Published by Zondervan on June 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Theology
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The practice of offering reasons for the Christian faith, or apologetics, strikes many unbelievers today as offensive, an attempt to proselytize, while Christians themselves often view apologetics as unsophisticated or even faith-undermining. After all, shouldn't a believer focus on presenting the gospel rather than attempting to argue people to belief?
In Telling a Better Story, author Joshua Chatraw presents a new and better way to do apologetics, an inside-out approach that is attuned to our late-modern moment and respectful of unbelievers, all the while remaining focused on Jesus. With chapters on cultural understanding, dealing with the difficult issues, and presenting Jesus in a holistic, contextual manner, Telling a Better Story offers a roadmap to effective apologetics both for experienced apologists and those new to sharing their faith with others.
Christians can no longer assume that the people around them share their basic assumptions and interpretive frameworks for life, and theologian Joshua D. Chatraw encourages us to change our views of apologetic conversations to fit with the needs of our secular era, instead of frustrating others with outdated methods or giving into relativism. In Telling a Better Story: How to Talk About God in a Skeptical Age, he addresses a variety of cultural scripts, frameworks for meaning, and objections to Christianity, showing how Christians can challenge the plot holes and lack of coherency in secular stories while offering Christianity as the meta-narrative in which our deepest longings and values make sense.
Instead of making arguments for Christianity based on logical premises that others do not share, believers can engage with the deeper questions behind everything, helping their friends and neighbors see the lack of consistency in views that borrow from Christian values in order to support narratives that otherwise become incoherent and unlivable. Chatraw addresses a variety of different secular beliefs, and honors the complexity of how people understand themselves and the world around them. He does not assume that everyone who espouses a particular view lives it out in the same way as someone else, and encourages people to pursue deep and nuanced conversations.
However, Chatraw does not illustrate his points with personal stories about conversations that he has had with others. I understand that he wants to avoid reducing evangelism to a particular method or structure, but in such a story-oriented book, it surprised me that he did not illustrate real-life examples. Nonetheless, this book is a great resource for people who want to have meaningful, belief-oriented discussions with others, and it can uphold readers in their own faith as they face a world of competing narratives.