Telling the Truth

Telling the Truth, edited by DA Carson ★★★
This book is written as a compendium of a series of talks given at a conference held at Trinity Theological Seminary in Chicagoland. The subtitle suggests that the focus is on addressing the gospel to the post-modern world. The first few talks help to define in a very cursory fashion the nature of post-modernism, with a focus on the writings of Richard Rorty and Michel Foucault. Subsequent chapters deal with the issues of evangelism in the community. The book does a poor job of developing the thought structures of post-modernism. The development of evangelism specifically to the post-modern mindset was really not discussed well. The use of various post-modern terms, such as “metanarrative” was used in just about every chapter to make it post-modern oriented, though dealing with a post-modernist seemed similar to dealing with the pre-modernist or modernist, i.e., speaking and living the truth. The book is written almost entirely by either academic or college evangelists, such as Campus Crusade or Inter-varsity personnel, with emphasis on how to reach students. It leaves the assumption that students and academics are the only post-modernists, and not necessarily the man on the street. The book thrives on the discussion of techniques, failing a Reformed perspective of God’s work in evangelism. Several chapters simply should have been omitted completely, such as a chapter emphasizing Christ-centeredness in all Biblical reading which does violence to best Biblical hermeneutic. Worst, as mentioned before, the lengthy advice given for evangelism is true regardless of whether one is witnessing Christ to a post-modern, modern, pre-modern or normal person. There was no connection on how to specifically engage a person devoid of truth concepts, outside of the normal engagement of the person. I don’t wish to be too hard on this book. There was much good thought and discussion about engaging the culture which I found relevant to my own personal life. I think that Francis Schaeffer, though writing 30-40 years ago but definitely not dated, offers still the best advice about the engagement of the culture. A Teaching Company series by Louis Markos is excellent at exploring (in the last three lectures) the modernist and post-modernist mindset from a Christian perspective. With Markos, the Modernist is a person who rejects the ability to communicate or know the truth but will never deny the existence of truth. With post-modernism, communication may occur, though you are communicating nothing relevant since truth simply does not exist. Yet, as Schaeffer insists, the modernist (and post-modernist) cannot live by his own assumptions. Penetrating those inconsistencies in a clear and loving way was not discussed in this book. We live in a society which one would love to escape. The moral turpitude, the despair and mindlessness of even the academic elites, the wonton materialism and narcissistic hedonism which governs our culture make it challenging to survive let alone thrive. Yet, God calls us, and this book challenges each of us to creativity at the task of preaching the gospel in an intelligent yet winsome fashion. Lord help us.