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How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator Paperback – January 2, 2009

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How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator + Renewal as a Way of Life: A Guidebook for Spiritual Growth + Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (January 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433502712
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433502712
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"How to Argue Like Jesus will help communications professors to teach angelically. Carter and Coleman Christianize Aristotle and add heavenly heuristics that show how Jesus used story and imagery, and how we can go and do likewise."
Marvin Olasky, Editor in Chief, World News Group

"This engaging and edifying study by two gifted Christian writers shows that Jesus understood better than all the others both who he was talking to and what they needed to hear. It turns out that the right kind of straight talk really can confound the smooth experts, and being rhetorically effective doesn't have to be at the expense of your good name. This is a genuine self-help book."
Peter Lawler, Dana Professor of Government, Berry College; author, Homeless and at Home in America

"Anti-intellectualism plagues the modern church, but the best response is not a false intellectualism. How to Argue like Jesus falls into neither trap. It effectively teaches logic and critical thinking in the context of a well-lived life. This is what the church needs."
John Mark Reynolds, Founder and Director, Torrey Honors Institute

"Carter and Coleman take a complex topic and distill it into a clear and readable volume on proper communication. I highly recommend this book."
William J. Bennett, Fellow, The Claremont Institute; co-founder of Culture11

About the Author

JOE CARTER is the managing editor for Culture11, an online magazine. His personal blog, The Evangelical Outpost, was voted Best Religious Blog in the 2005 Weblog Awards and was named one of the Best Spiritual Blogs by Carter, who earned his BA from Excelsior College, contributed to Crossway's The New Media Frontier

John Coleman (Berry College) was named the nation's top overall intercollegiate speech competitor in 2004. After working for two years at a top management consulting firm, Coleman is currently pursuing an MBA/MPA at the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School.

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Customer Reviews

The book is easy to read.
As such, I can highly recommend this book.
Andrew F. Wood
This book would be helpful for everyone!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Andrew F. Wood on February 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you speak to do well - but also to do right - How to Argue Like Jesus is a worthy addition to your library. I say this not only as an occasional instructor of public speaking classes but also as an agnostic who, nonetheless, is impressed with the message contained in this book.

The authors lay out an impressive goal: to employ an Aristotelian framework that unpacks the rhetorical strategies of Jesus (even as Jesus offers a means to illuminate Aristotle's notions of ethos, pathos, and logos). Given my interest in logos, I am particularly drawn to the reminder that, "While many modern anti-thesists argue for the irrationality of religion, Jesus is an exemplar of reason, rationality, and logic" (p. 44). The authors then expand their gaze to explore Jesus' use of imagery, his strategies for message dissemination, and the ways in which his rhetorical principles may be applied to contemporary speaking challenges.

This is, after all, a practical book. The authors expertly shift from historical context to rhetorical analysis to personal application, demonstrating how even complex concepts and strategies may be employed in familial, academic, and corporate environments. Notable contributions include a rich description of argumentative strategies and a section exploring the five C's of effective parables that will prove useful to those who would motivate people in both businesses and places of worship (pp. 94-95) -- though I would add that the bright line between grows ever more dim.

Perhaps the most fascinating component of this book appears (at first) to be its least rhetorical: a discussion of the cellular process or organization growth and maintenance. The authors state, "So Christ commanded his disciples not only to stick together but to disperse" (p. 119).
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Anglican Bibliophile on March 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
This exceptionally readable volume is both a fine introduction to Jesus' use of rhetoric for those studying that subject, and an insightful study of Jesus and his effective use of language for those seeking to know more about him. It is not a devotional book on the one hand; on the other, it is not a mechanistic manual of rhetorical devices. But it succeeds admirably in teaching the reader things about argument and about Jesus that chances are the reader has not learned before--or surely not with such effect.

While there is much about the writing and content of this book that is noteworthy, where I think the authors have truly made their mark is in producing a book so suitable for so many audiences. Beyond the many individual readers, Christian and non-Christian alike, who will benefit from this overview of Jesus' use of rhetoric, the book is an exceptional resource for undergraduate and seminary courses on Jesus, for homiletics classes, for introductory rhetoric classes, for church and college book groups, and for church school classes. The subject matter and presentation lends itself to all of these groups, but the addition of study questions and case studies ensures that any group can easily adopt this book for its situation. Likewise, the book's content would not be intimidating for better high school students, but in no way is too elementary for those with advanced degrees. This achievement itself is an endorsement of the authors' skill and understanding of the very subject matter they present.

Joe Carter and John Coleman are to be commended for what this reader hopes will be the first of many such books. Crossway has enhanced its reputation further by publishing this superb and perceptive book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jon D. on February 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
How to Argue Like Jesus by Coleman & Carter is a powerful yet easy to comprehend guide book allowing the common reader to understand and master the skills of our world's greatest philosophers and leaders from throughout time. From Aristotle and Socrates, to understanding why Martin Luther King's "I Had A Dream Speech" is so powerful, Coleman & Carter teach the most crucial moments of history & bible and how we can use them to make a difference in our lives, work, and communities.

Distilling the essence of argument and impact, the book endows us with an understanding of the skills that have provided the greatest leaders/speakers with the platform for driving impact and making a difference.

I sincerely recommend reading this book if you are interested in leadership and driving impact, persuading those around you, or better understanding the underpinnings of how Jesus and other great leaders of the past used rhetoric to change the world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. Grotzke on December 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Point: Jesus was the most effective communicator the world has ever seen, and we can learn from his example.

Path: The authors demonstrate how Jesus effectively used pathos (1), logos (2), ethos (3), narrative and imagery (4), discipleship (5), and a variety of other devices and strategies to make his message count (6). They then finish with several case studies offering other examples for the previous chapters.

Sources: The authors heavily rely upon the Gospel accounts in Scripture to demonstrate Christ’s interaction with his audience. In the chapter on discipleship they repeatedly make references to the churches of Andy Stanley and Rick Warren.

Agreement: The format in which they couched their argument helped me to see the variety of methods Jesus employed. He was an incredible communicator.
Their short portion on parables was helpful.

After reading the book, I thought the title should be “Communicating like Jesus”. They included his arguments, but more than just that.
It felt as though they had a previous structure and then strip mined the gospels at times to find fitting examples.

Personal App: Jesus was not interested in cheap arguments and gimmicks. He had deliberate answers to both validate his purpose and disprove his antagonists. Do I settle for logical fallacies and chicanery?

Favorite Quote: “But apart from these rare moments of distinction, the man who would later launch the world’s most popular religion spent 90 percent of his time on earth doing manual labor and living with his humble family, in a humble place, at a time when it was bad to be a Jew and worse to be a Nazarene in a land controlled by Rome” (13).

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.
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