Imagine getting the opportunity to go for a coffee with a seasoned Christian apologist and hearing them share their wisdom from a lifetime of communicating the gospel. And then imagine that as you chatted with them you discovered that not only were they adept at defending and commending the good news in their public ministry, but that they also had countless stories of getting into everyday conversations with all sorts of people and warmly talking about the claims of the Christian faith.
Well, if that doesn’t seem a scenario likely to happen to you any time soon, fear not, because that’s pretty much the experience of reading John Lennox’s new bitesize little book from 10ofthose, Have No Fear. Aside from the coffee and literally hearing Lennox’s dulcet Armagh tones, you’re not really missing much from the real thing. And that makes this book a helpful little tonic to persuade normal everyday Christians to persevere with sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Genius and Normal Geezer
Though a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Oxford who has published over 70 peer-reviewed articles in his field, Lennox is perhaps best known for writing extensively on the relationship between science and religion and publicly debating prominent atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Peter Singer and Michael Shermer. In recent years he has become an Adjunct Lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and is much in demand as a teacher and preacher on the subject of communicating the Christian faith and answering sceptics. Pretty impressive for seventy-five years old.
And yet as well as having all the intellectual and communicative capabilities that you’d expect from someone who can hold their own against the likes of Dawkins, Lennox also comes across as a delightfully engaging character, as winsome and affable as he is erudite.
That’s just as well, because I assume that most of us aren’t academy-level experts in mathematics or science. Sadly too often the language of apologetics puts most of us off, but the surprise with Lennox is that despite his academic credentials he comes across as a ‘normal person’ (no offence intended!), and so you know his advice and experience on ‘being salt and light even when it’s costly’ (as the subtitle of this book puts it) comes from a relatable perspective.
0 to 60 in No Time At All
Seven brief chapters take us from a general overview of the times we live in and the New Testament’s expectation that Christians will be ready to share something of the hope we have, through to some of the practicalities of how we might seek to do that in our secular, post-Christendom age. For me it was the second and third chapters on ‘Making a Defence’ and ‘Conversing about Jesus’ that were particularly helpful, despite their brevity still full of wisdom and perceptive insight on practically having conversations that ‘acknowledge’ Jesus. Another chapter focuses in on reading the Bible with people in a one-to-one context, with Lennox advocating The Word One-to-One resource, as developed by William Taylor and Richard Borgonon. Another addresses the importance of our lifestyle backing up the message we speak, whilst the final two chapters see Lennox share how he often explains the difference between Christianity and other religions, i.e. between grace and works.
It’s pretty impressive how much ‘essentials’ Lennox manages to cover in so little space. This makes it a very useful resource, particularly for people who don’t read many Christian books. And all the way through, Have No Fear is littered with stories and examples from encounters Lennox has had. Crucially, rather than portray Lennox as some evangelistic-superman, they exude an infectious desire to speak of Christ.
Inspired & Enthused
To be honest, there’s not much to lose with a book like this. Coming in 10ofthose’s little pocket-size range, Have No Fear will only take you a couple of hours to read, and yet I’d put good money on you coming out the other side with a fresh desire to want to share the gospel. Lennox’s own aim is that the book would:
“…demonstrate that you – yes, you – can actually be a faithful witness to Jesus. Furthermore, this is not some grim task that you do because you feel guilty. Instead, it will bring you a great sense of joy and strengthen your Christian life and experience immeasurably.”
Even if all of Lennox’s advice and tips aren’t news to you, then at least you’ll be encouraged by his enthusiasm and intentional perspective on talking about Jesus, not to mention the infectious example of all the conversations Lennox recounts. The man evidently lives with a conscious trust in the providential hand of God and seeks to be available and open to using everyday moments to help others discover something of the Christian faith. That is stirring in itself.
Looking for a punchy and brief book to spark off someone to begin thinking about sharing their faith, or to encourage someone who has the desire but feels clueless (most of us?). Look no further…
You can pick up a copy of Have No Fear from the publisher here for just £2.99, with reductions available for bulk buys. Order 100 and they’ll cost just £1 each.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but I hope this is still a fair and honest review.