In his recent essay, Tim Keller has entered his bit in a persistent dialogue regarding how Christians should speak in public. The players in this dialogue, including James Wood, Aaron Renn, and Simon Kennedy, are working to sort out how Christians should speak outside the church. At odds is not sermonic form or structure but what it should sound like when Christians are called to “give an answer” (1 Peter 3:5).
Keep in mind that the content of the answer is, for the most part, not up for debate. “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23), they all say. But I am not so sure.
Keller has settled on an account of “persuasion” as the form Christian speech should take in the negative world. Though I am no more satisfied with Wood’s account of a more confrontational approach, Keller’s account of persuasion falls flat in the negative world. Indeed at the heart of persuasion, what should be called apologetics, is a functional agreement between the speaker and the audience….