Book Notes: Every Square Inch / Talking with Catholics about the Gospel / How to Talk So People Will Listen


An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians
Bruce Ashford

Reading Every Square Inch is like reliving my personal journey of discovery, which in many respects, mirrors Bruce Ashford’s: immersion into another cultural context, viewing the USA from the outside-in, and wondering what Christianity offers regarding the big questions of life, society, and culture.

Every Square Inch is a splendid introduction to the Christian calling to live under the lordship of Christ in every sphere of life. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and its message impacts every area of life.

Here is the greatest story ever told (arts) about what the world is truly like (science) now that a crucified messiah is King of the world (politics), a King who has formed a generous people in His image (economics) and now commissions us to teach others to obey all Christ’s commands (education).


A Guide for Evangelicals
Chris Castaldo

The relationship between evangelicals and Roman Catholics is fraught with tension — from the Council of Trent’s anathemas against the rediscovery of justification by faith alone to evangelicals’ frequent failures to represent Catholic beliefs and practices accurately and precisely. Meanwhile, evangelicals and Catholics are co-belligerents in the debates over marriage and abortion, and ecumenical ties have never been stronger. Trying to do evangelism in this environment is perplexing. Is the Catholic a misguided brother or sister who needs to be educated? Or a lost person in need of regeneration?

Chris Castaldo has written on this subject before. His part-biographical, part-informational book, Holy Groundis a good place to start when considering how to witness to Catholic friends and family members. I interviewed him on the subject back in 2009.

Castaldo’s newest book, Talking with Catholics about the Gospel, goes deeper into the history of Catholicism, and opens a window into its sacramental worldview, its authority mediated through church structures, and the specific points in which evangelicals find themselves at odds with Catholic dogma. Along the way, he helps us differentiate between cultural Catholics and traditional Catholics. He also helps us avoid the most common evangelical misrepresentations of Catholic teaching. Then, he offers fruitful avenues for evangelistic conversations that emphasize God’s grace and the authority of Scripture. This is a resource worthy of frequent consultation as you engage Catholics with the gospel.


Steve Brown

This book by author, radio host, and professor Steve Brown could just as easily be titled How to Listen so You Know How to Talk. This is a practical guide to multiple kinds of conversation — personal, pastoral, and public.

Brown’s personality shines through the pages, an odd combination of down-to-earth realness with an edginess that makes him interesting. His personal anecdotes carry the reader through his own successes and failures in conversation and public speaking.

If you’ve read a lot of books on communication, you won’t find any earth-shattering new insights here. But you’ll be hard pressed to find a better book on the basics that is geared to pastors and church leaders.