- I'm familiar with the fact that reasoning in syllogisms (B because A, C because B, D because C, so if you believe A, you must believe D) is a very western thinking pattern but not universal, so one common failing in our efforts to preach the gospel is that we package it in a way that doesn't make sense to hearers from other cultures. Far more effective throughout most of the Middle East is narrative reasoning that makes its point indirectly, but unmistakably. Strongest proof of the premise: Jesus didn't reason in syllogisms, but taught in parables. Paul, on the other hand, was all about the syllogism, but his education had a huge root in classical Greco-Roman thinking.
- The thing that hadn't occurred to me is a question Jabbour says many Muslims ask of Christians: "Why do the Christian nations favor Israel over the Muslim world when Islam is so much closer theologically to Christianity than Judaism? Jews deny that Jesus was the Messiah, and the Talmud even says Jesus is in Hell. Islam accepts that Issa was born of a virgin, did many miracles, and is in Heaven with Allah. Why can't Christians recognize their brothers?"
There was a family made up of father, mother, and several children, and the mother's father lived in their household. He had not aged gracefully, and was known for his sharp tongue. He denounced the father's work, the mother's decisions, and the children's lessons and games with loud, hurtful language. When guests came to visit, they marveled at the hostility the grandfather showed, and praised the family for taking care of him, even while he made his presence so very unpleasant.
One day, a visitor came from a neighboring town to complete a brief business errand. His parents had been childhood friends of the father and mother, but tragically, were no longer alive. Upon his arrival, everyone was struck by his resemblance to the children. He could easily have been mistaken for their brother! He spent the evening with them, telling stories and enjoying games, and everyone agreed that his nature fit with theirs perfectly. At the end of the evening, he said, "Why don't I simply become part of your family and live here? You can tell everyone that I'm another of your children that was away at school, but returned home to live in the house because of my great love for all of you?"
The mother smiled. "It is a blessing to us that you've visited, and we treasure your friendship, but we have no room here. Our family fills all the rooms in the house."
"But if you were to move your father out, I could take his room," the young man said. "He undercuts everything you do and say, while I am much closer to you in appearance, belief and attitude. I would fit here perfectly. Why not accept me in his place?"
Very, very gently, hoping not to hurt his feelings, the father replied, "Even if my father-in-law's words do not please us, my family would not exist without him. The relationship we have with him is genuine. It is living proof of our family's history. The relationship you propose is based on deceit. You are very near to us, but to tell the world we shared a blood tie would be a lie. We hope always to enjoy your friendship, but friendship with you is not a sufficient reason for us to deny what is."
It's a clumsy first attempt, but at least it doesn't fall into the error of framing the reasoning in a way that will only breed confusion, not understanding.
And that leads me to wonder whether anyone has paid serious attention to contrastive apologetics? Contrastive rhetoric is a fairly young field, having begun in the 1960s with the work of Robert Kaplan, and that makes me curious as to whether anyone has tackled the work of reframing reasoning that clarifies difficult questions in Christian thought in argument patterns that work in different cultures? That might be a research project for this summer.