Being Salt and Light even when it's Costly
“The purpose of this little book is to 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.”
A couple of years ago I attended a Lennox-run seminar on “apologetics” (not a term that pleases him). Admittedly, I had largely forgotten about it until discovering that the seminar formed the material for much of Have No Fear. Coincidently, it was remarkably difficult to read this book with anything other than his soft, Irish tone. And that was no bad thing.
The little book is a pragmatic help to our evangelism, particularly seeking to soothe witnessing worries. Driven by the oft-quoted 1st Peter 3:15, Lennox points out the importance of placing “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” alongside the much-neglected first sentence of the very same verse: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” That is, our fear of sharing our faith decreases as our fear of God increases; the rest of the book is to be read in the light of this “rival fear”.
With the motivating passage in place, Lennox switches to a cocktail of (seemingly un-ordered) practical nuggets. These include asking somebody what their hope is so that they ask the same question in return (to force a 1st Peter 3:15 situation), not attempting to answer a question there and then if we do not know the answer, and to understand the importance of knowing when to let the conversation go. There is a lot of wisdom to be found in this smattering of techniques.
Have No Fear benefits immensely from Lennox’s humility. This is particularly to be lauded; if anyone has reason to boast, the professor of mathematics has greater. And yet his formidable intellect does not drive a wedge of gifting between him and us. Anecdote-studded, the book is gripping, accessible, and most importantly, (by and large) imitable.
There is much else to commend here. Crucially, Lennox relishes a Scripture-driven approach to evangelism, but this is coupled with a pleasing willingness to give the reader space to explore her own approach. Lennox champions “The Word One to One”, but is quite happy with Uncover and the wealth of other resources on offer; his only requirement being that the self-authenticating Bible is allowed to speak to the non-believer. There are also one or two helpful illustrations on offer to adopt into our gospel explanations. Refreshingly, and, I think, rightly, Lennox is not shy to see God’s sovereign hand at work in evangelism. One such example emerges from an anecdote in which the Jesus-centred conversation in question is set up seemingly supernaturally by what our charismatic brothers and sisters call a “divine appointment”.
There are a couple of holes in Have No Fear. The book does not have an overly developed guide to leading somebody to Christ; interestingly, it could be argued that this is symptomatic of a broader lack of expectancy in our circles for God to save people.
It also becomes apparent early in the book that Lennox is quite happy to pluck up conversations with strangers (in which he is uniquely quick-witted) and does not appear to offer advice in how to go about doing so. This is likely to lose a number of readers, especially seeing as this is precisely the leap that many, if not most, will fear. Of course, this will presumably emerge from a fear of the Lord that outweighs our fear of people, but even so, it would have been useful to develop. Having said this, reading the book re-kindled a desire to speak about Christ more frequently with strangers, demonstrating that Lennox clearly does offer something in this area.
There are a number of good introductory evangelistic texts out there (indeed, the whole Christian book genre is somewhat over-saturated), and I think that I would suggest other books, such as Get Real, over Have No Fear. The latter, however, has the advantage of being shorter. This is what really sets it apart. Therefore, for those who both do not read voraciously and have not yet taken strides into evangelism, this book is perfect. For those already witnessing, something meatier like Apologetics is likely to be the better recommendation.