facts or story?

An interview with Lee Strobel at CT (no endorsement for either!) raises the question of methodology in apologetics. If you have read anything on postmodernism, Strobel won’t be saying anything new to you, but I wonder what you think of what he is saying.

If we personalize the gospel with our testimony, or make it a story in some other way (not compromising the message), is that more effective than a more direct proclamational approach? It seems to me that we have evidence of both styles in the book of Acts.

I don’t think this is an either/or question, rather, perhaps, a “best first approach” question. It seems that in order to win folks to Christ it will often take many contacts (sometimes from many different people), but my question is, can we make a hard and fast rule that ‘testimony-first’ is the best approach?

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Comments

  1. Don,

    I think one will inevitably lead to the other. It’s hard to talk only facts of the gospel without at least alluding to the change it has caused in your own life. At the same time, I can’t imagine a personal testimony that doesn’t sound out the gospel. How can it even be a testimony if it doesn’t do that?

    Aren’t these ideas inextricably linked? All of my witnessing includes an element of both.

    Chris

    • Well, I think what you say is true, Chris. However, I wonder if that is exactly what Strobel is talking about. I’ll have to go and look at it again. He may be talking ‘post-modern speak’ about putting the gospel story into a ‘meta-narrative’, i.e., not so much your personal testimony, but the story of the gospel. But as I say, I think I should go read that again.

      I do agree that there is power and effectiveness in a personal testimony and I don’t see how you can avoid it in a gospel presentation.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

      • Ok, I took a look again. He is talking more about ‘testimony’ type stories, I think. I think that is fine. I wonder if McDowell’s former methods (whom he mentions) were all that much “exclusively fact oriented” – somehow, I don’t think you can ever ‘escape’ some aspect of the testimony as you present the gospel.

        My biggest problem is not the presentation bit, though, but getting to first base. That is, how do you get people today to pay attention in the first place?

        Maranatha!
        Don Johnson
        Jer 33.3

  2. Don,

    I usually deal a lot with people my own age or younger. (I’m in the internet marketing business, so I tend to be surrounded by people 35 and younger.)

    It is my experience more and more that people of this age group want to cut to the chase. I’m not talking necessarily about a hard-sell gospel presentation, but openness and honesty about your intentions. If one makes this clear: “I am a Christian and I want you to be a Christian too”, there is usually less opposition.

    The round-about “I’m becoming your friend, secretly hoping I get the opportunity to tell you about Jesus”-trick is a dead loser. Savvy observers are onto that and have very little respect for it.

    Just an observation – I don’t know if it answers the question.

    Chris

    • Interesting. I once picked up a hitch-hiker in our national park, Jasper, on my way home to Alberta. I was about 20 and the guy was probably maybe 25. I was home for the summer working for my dad. (I probably wouldn’t pick him up today…) He was kind of a hippie looking guy, I think he might have been from the States.

      Anyway, he rode with me for several hours. I witnessed to him quite directly. He said near the end, “Don’t you think you might be more effective being less direct?” I said, “So you would want me to sort of ‘sneak up on you’ and hide my intentions before I got around to what I wanted to talk about?” He immediately got my point. And yours.

      So there you have it, you told it very directly and I told you a story!

      Anyway, I think you make an interesting point. Maybe it is just your techie nerd oriented friends! Or maybe we are being sold a bill of goods by experts, eh?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

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