How to Argue Like Jesus: A Review

by on March 1, 2009

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Carter, Joe and John Coleman, How to Argue Like Jesus. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 174 pp. $15.99.

Joe Carter, not the baseball player, is the managing editor for Culture11, an online magazine, and writes on his personal blog, The Evangelical Outpost. John Coleman was named the nation’s top overall intercollegiate speech competitor in 2004 and is pursuing an MBA/MPA at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School.

In their book How to Argue Like Jesus, Carter and Coleman set out to analyze Christ’s communication methods and how we can learn to be better communicators ourselves by studying Jesus’ rhetoric. They divide the book into two sections with the first section being comprised of three chapters and the second with four chapters. The first section is based upon Aristotle’s three essential components of rhetoric (logos, pathos, and ethos) and how Christ utilized them. The second section provides more examples of Jesus using other various rhetorical devices to reach His hearers. The final chapter gives us examples from pop culture and politics to show how these rhetorical devices are still used today.

This book is an excellent read for anyone, Christian or non-Christian, who wants to learn how to communicate well with others. Some of the sections may be lost on one who does not have a background in logic or philosophy. However, the book was specifically written for the one who wants to better communicate and not for the logician or philosopher who wants to win more arguments.

When I first picked up the book, I was skeptical as to its contents. My fears were relieved by the fourth page when the writers professed faith in the “divinity, death, resurrection, and salvific powers of Jesus.” These two authors used Scripture to show how rhetoric, when properly applied, is most effective. This book would be a nice resource for anyone who feels called to pastoral ministry as well as anyone who simply wants to learn how to more effectively communicate with others.