Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths

How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths

Paul Louis Metzger;

We live in a multifaith society: an ever-growing, diverse cultural climate, where no religion is viewed as having a monopoly on truth. It is important when that Christ-followers not only share the Word of God but also listen and learn how to interact meaningfully with those of diverse perspectives as we engage in life’s most important conversations.

Connecting Christ encourages believers to be not only better communicators and witnesses but also listeners to people of other worldviews and traditions—skills that are crucial in defending against today’s negative connotations and ineffective approaches associated with Christian evangelism.

With extensive commentary from leaders of various walks of faith and life—from Judaism to Islam and Buddhism to atheism—theologian and author Dr. Paul Louis Metzger offers a spiritual compass to help navigate the intimidating yet critical dialogue of conveying our faith in Christ. Filled with practical guidance and insight into controversial topics, such as hell, fascism, and homosexuality, Connecting Christ reveals that there is a way of evangelizing that is neither disengaging monologue nor silent, lifestyle ministry but is, instead, an approach for evangelism and dialogue to go hand-in-hand.

We must remove ourselves as the stumbling block to salvation for others and embrace a way to proclaim the uncommon, compassionate God revealed in Jesus Christ—the Savior this world is dying to know.

Praise for Connecting Christ

“…fills a critical gap… an evangelical Christian and noted scholar, Metzger explores how the faithful and conservative Christian can engage in open and respectful dialog with those of other faiths without losing sight of the obligation to witness … should be required reading for evangelical pastors and preachers.” —Christian Graham in Library Journal, Volume 137, Issue 4 (2012), page 80.

“Many times evangelical treatments of new religions (pejoratively labeled cults)–and at times world religions–consist of doctrinal comparison, usually followed by apologetic refutation. Paul Louis Metzger’s volume moves beyond this template to consider new and world religions on their own terms while also relating them to the Christian faith. Not content with mere description, contrast, and rebuttal, Metzger invites representatives of the religious traditions he engages into conversation that includes critique. This dialogical approach is a refreshing addition to evangelical treatments of religion that should be of value to Christians in the academy, the pulpit, and the pews.” —John W. Morehead, director, Western Institute for Intercultural Studies; and director, Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy

“In this wise and stimulating discussion, Paul Louis Metzger calls for evangelical Christian to pursue ‘relational, incarnational apologetics’ in our engagement with a religiously and culturally diverse society. Drawing upon his extensive personal relationships with those from very different perspectives, as well as his experience in teaching theology, Metzger presents a fresh approach that listens carefully to Christianity’s critics while also pointing others to Jesus.” —Harold Netland, professor of philosophy and religion and intercultural studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“In Connecting Christ, my good friend Paul Louis Metzger writes on a topic he daily lives out–connecting Jesus to our post-Christian culture. How can we join the most important conversations of our time, rather than retreating to the comfort of our own subculture? Metzger has labored hard to build bridges here, in very progressive Portland, Oregon, making this a work deeply rooted in real-life experience. In this timely and compelling read, you will learn how to engage the culture more effectively for greater kingdom impact.” —Kevin Palau, president, Luis Palau Association

“I have trusted and respected Dr. Paul Louis Metzger so much that over the past several years we have asked him to periodically teach an apologetics course to our Young Life staff in the Northwest. His book Connecting Christ is consistent with why our staff loves his teaching–he weds a message of biblical orthodoxy together with the compassion of incarnational witness. Dr. Metzger’s book reads like a field manual for engaging disinterested and even hostile people with both the truth and grace of Jesus Christ.” —John Franklin, senior vice president, Young Life Western Division

“I find Connecting Christ to be as robust and clear a statement of evangelicalism as I have recently seen.” —Phyllis Tickle, founding editor [ret.], Publisher’s Weekly, religion

“Paul Louis Metzger loves Jesus, and this book shows that his love for his neighbors is just as palpable. Connecting Christ presents the kind of witness to Jesus that participates in the power of the gospel to change the world. The development of a viable and winsome evangelical apologetic in the twenty-first century receives a huge boost in the book you hold in your hands.” —Amos Yong, J. Rodman Williams Professor of Theology, Regent University School of Divinity

“Paul Louis Metzger has given us a remarkable expression out of God’s very heart. His proposal for a relationally authentic pursuit of engaging others needs to be heard by everyone. In his writing he is clear while not being simplistic, and he is courageous without being arrogant. A relational-incarnational apologetic model will challenge and release all of us to seriously live out of God’s heart, to love unconditionally with humility, repentance, and confession.” —Dr. Randall Y. Furushima, dean and executive officer, New Hope Christian College

“The variety of religions and philosophies across the globe is dizzying. The common way to account for such diversity–from the world’s perspective–is to say either all of it is false or there are many paths to fulfillment and the hereafter. Paul Louis Metzger, a leading expert on Christ and culture, gives us another perspective, a better way. Connecting Christ is a must-read on how to live Christianity in a world of diverse faiths.” —Michael Emerson, Allyn & Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and cofounding director, Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Rice University; and author, Divided by FaithUnited by FaithPeople of the Dream, and Transcending Race Barriers

“In this wide-ranging trinitarian apologetic, Paul Louis Metzger gently but firmly addresses people of various Christian denominations, other religions, and no religion from an evangelical perspective of solidarity with them, presenting the good news that because God is gracious to us in Jesus Christ, God will not let any of us go and will not let Christians separate themselves from anyone, even their enemies, because those who trust in the crucified Savior cannot let anyone else go either. Among other intriguing issues the relation of theology and science; the problem of universalism; how to understand Christianity in a pluralistic market-driven, consumer culture; and how to relate with others over divisive moral issues are also discussed. What makes this a very compelling read and an unusual one today is the fact that Metzger never wavers from pointing readers to the only One who can make us truly one and give us genuine hope for the future of humanity, namely, Jesus Christ himself. Anyone reading this book will see just how everything really does look differently in light of a theology of the Trinity.” —Paul D. Molnar, professor of systematic theology, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, St. John’s University

“Paul Louis Metzger paints a compelling and refreshing picture of our Christian opportunity to both share the good news and grow in love and relationship with others. Neither is negotiable. It is an honest look at how we have missed the mark in evangelism and steers us back to the heart of Jesus. I also love how Metzger lays out a humble and thoughtful display of different religions. He does not belittle or generalize but invites us into real relationships and real conversations with others. What a helpful resource for people who want to grow in their witness!” —Vikki Rubens, area director, Oregon, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, USA

“This is the best book available for instructing us all in how to talk about Jesus to people of other religious traditions. Christian witnesses must read it.” —Terry Muck, dean, E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission & Evangelism, Asbury Theological Seminary

“This is the manual for evangelism and apologetics for the next decade.” —Rick James, publisher, Campus Crusade for Christ; author, Jesus Without Religion

“Dr. Metzger allows us to eavesdrop on some profound conversations, giving us a glimpse into the mind-set of others from differing faiths and a better understanding of how to share with those who have yet to respond in faith to Jesus Christ.” —Luis Palau, world evangelist

“This is how to do apologetics in the 21st century. In Connecting Christ, Paul Metzger carries on a real dialogue with representatives from a wide variety of religions and worldviews. He listens and allows each to explain their views. And it is in the dialogue, and in the context of the relationship he has with these individuals, that Paul compassionately, but unflinchingly, points them to Jesus Christ. This book is unique, as is Paul’s approach to evangelism, yet it is bold and thoroughly biblical. It is apologetics done well in a diverse culture and pluralistic world.” —CruPress Green (read the full review, along with chapter 12 and the corresponding responses)

Connecting Christ, written by theology professor Paul Louis Metzger, empowers Christians to reach out to groups we often consider ‘untouchable.’ Although an academic author would seem more likely to approach apologetics with facts and research, Metzger does the opposite, focusing on relationships and respect as the best methods for apologetics… Metzger’s willingness to engage with culture in his research illustrates his philosophy of ‘bearing witness to Christ in contemporary culture.’ However, the Bible is still the dominant source here… This is recommended reading for anyone who desires to bridge the gaps between ‘us’ and ‘them’ that often seem impassable.” —Kimberly Mauck (read the full review at The Christian Chronicle)

“This book is a unique way to do apologetics. It is very sensitively written out, and is a bold attempt to speak the truth in love to both Christians and especially non-believers coming from the various faith traditions. I like the way Metzger painstakingly tries to represent as accurately as possible his understanding of religions, neo-paganism, and the cultural religions of this age. The book is very informative, filled with descriptions of personal encounters with real practitioners… If you are looking to do apologetics that enables one to speak the truth in love, this is the book to use.” —Dr. Conrade Yap (read the full review at Panorama of a Book Saint)

“Some might accuse Metzger of merely talking the good talk; I can assure them that he also walks it. I had the opportunity to be a part of Dr. Metzger’s World Religions class where we traveled around and spoke at length (sometimes for four or five hours) with representatives of various faiths local in the Portland area.  Dr. Metzger was not only generous in these sessions, but the dialogue opportunities our class benefited from represented the reaping of long-term relationships that Dr. Metzger cultivated over the years.  Without abandoning or circumventing his Christian convictions, Dr. Metzger nonetheless engaged with these leaders (who were themselves quite respectful) in a dialogue of mutual enrichment and mutual placing, where true similarities and true differences could come to the fore without becoming barriers to civility or solvents watering down conviction.” —Derrick Peterson (read the full review at A Greater Courage)

“This book is a must read for anyone who seriously desires to understand others and their beliefs, how to respond in love to them practically and also to help one discern the error of their thinking and beliefs.” —Gea (read the full review on GoodReads)

“Metzger did so many things right here: he showed that Christians shouldn’t abandon argument altogether, just because we might be embarrassed about the way our predecessors handled it. But on the other hand, Christians should acknowledge that a Buddhist can be just as satisfied intellectually as a Christian, because the core differences in the systems are not intellectual anyway-something early Christians in the Roman context new but later Christians forgot as they gained political power. Most nobly, Metzger chose opponents that are just as educated and just as eloquent as he, is instead of picking on easy targets, and the book is stronger and more useful because of it. Metzger models the confidence mixed with genuine humility that could actually cause people to refer to Christians as ‘Christlike’ again.” —Matt (read the full review on GoodReads)

“I would encourage you to get this book into your hands so that you can think about the ways that you can engage and listen to people of other faiths and hot topics in our culture with the truth and love of the gospel of Christ.” —Andrew Kruse (read the full review at Reaching Youth for Christ)

Connecting Christ will challenge your views on the goal and purpose of interfaith work. Whether or not you agree with Metzger’s main premise, you will be prodded to reflect on how and what you share, in good faith, with others whose beliefs differ from your own.” —Patricia Farris (read the full review at Ministry Matters)

“When we think of apologetics we think of rational debate yet what I adore about this book is the key infusion of relational engagement. Want to learn about the worldviews of other faith communities? Want to learn how to engage from a Trinitarian perspective? Want to see how the relational model of Christ intersects beautifully with apologetics? Then read this book and I promise you you’ll never regret it.” —Emil Khooda (read the full review at Amazon)

Connecting Christ shows Paul Louis Metzger at his best—humble and vulnerable, eminently readable, culturally aware, and unabashedly orthodox in his theology. Speaking as one who is not part of the evangelical world but who has keen interest in it—and great hopes for it —I recommend this book to passionate Jesus followers who are searching for ways to connect with those of other faith traditions, or of none. Wondering how can you do this without selling out Jesus or hiding who you are? Metzger has compelling answers. For Christians keen on making their faith public and persuasive, and on fostering a productive dialog with those outside of evangelicalism, Metzger points the way forward.” —Tom Krattenmaker (reviewed at Amazon)

“In Connecting Christ, Metzger, like the Apostle Paul (strange coincidence!), presents a wonderful way to imitate in our witness of Christ to the world. And while we live in a world of diverse paths, Connecting Christ presents a Christocentric path of evangelism and dialogue so as to be faithful to the way of Christ–a way drenched in His incarnational love.” —Matthew S. Farlow (read the full review at Amazon)

“Metzger’s book provides a very practical, winsome, relational approach on how to engage real people with specific worldviews. His approach allows ordinary Christians to enter into the world of Jewish people, Mormons, Buddhists, etc., seeking to understand, love, and respect before engaging others with the gospel. But Metzger doesn’t provide a formula or a cookie-cutter approach. More than anything, he mentors us in how to build relationships with others as we seek to connect Christ to their world. The subtitle certainly delivers on its promise: “How to discuss Jesus in a world of diverse paths.” —Matthew Woodley (reviewed at Amazon)

“One thing that struck me while reading Paul’s book was that he can find good in anyone. He is able to find good in the Atheist, the Buddhist, and the Muslim, to name a few. Although Paul does not agree with their religious points of view, he is open and humble enough to admit that they have some good qualities. He builds relationships based on those qualities, thus opening the door for Christ to use him and build true relationships, which in turn can lead to turning souls to Christ… I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths. Read it and take it to heart. Let God put within you a passion for winning souls for Christ.” —Bill Kneer (read the full review at Amazon)

“This book is one I plan to re-read again slowly and integrate into my own approach of how I connect to those outside of the Christian faith. Connecting Christ has really helped me to re-think my vision for reaching others with the Gospel.” —Tim (read the full review at Amazon)

“It is my belief that Dr. Metgzer’s work in Connecting Christ is both critical and timely… As a student of people and of the scriptures, Connecting Christ was helpful as a resource. It is a “where theology meets the streets” handbook, of sorts. A thoughtful and thorough work, this book should be read by every minister in every context. It has become a must read for all of my ministry partners… Never before has a book compelled me to the heights (depths?) of being a stalker. Connecting Christ did just that. Upon completing this book I tracked down Dr. Metzger to show my appreciation for this important work of practical theology. I would not be surprised if you felt the same.” —E. J. Riley (read the full review at Amazon)

Connecting Christ helps round out my understanding of incarnational theology and serves as another example in how to faithfully engage others. I think Dr. Metzger does a honest job in attempting to understand the ideas of these different people and seeks to find Christ at the same time.” —R. Fox (read the full review at Amazon)

“As a pastor who serves an increasingly diverse congregation and community, I am concerned about how we connect with others who aren’t Christians. That’s why I found this book so helpful. Why? Because the author listens. He listens without the soft bigotry of “tolerance”, or the squishy convictions of an olly-olly-oxen-free inclusivist. He’s admirably firm in his commitment to bear witness to Christ in all circumstances, but gracious enough to allow space for others to say what they believe. I highly recommend this book to pastors, ministry leaders, and any lay people who are seeing the walls thrown up around the church. So often, they’re constructed from within.” —S. Mitchell (read the full review at Amazon)

“In an ever increasingly interconnected world, I’m sick of formulaic, ‘product-tested’ apologetics approaches. Connecting Christ is a phenomenal, flexible, diverse, up to date, 21st century approach to apologetics. I love Metzger’s call for Christians to be LISTENERS and to dialogue, rather than preach. His practical approaches for dismantling cultural land mines were especially helpful. I’ve been looking for a book like this for years. HIGHLY recommended.” —Emory (reviewed at Amazon)

“I have now read this book twice. Connecting Christ filled a place in my heart and in my understanding. As someone who enjoys mission work both home and abroad, I found Dr. Metzger’s writings motivational in reaching out to others… If you are trying to build a bridge of understanding and respect with neighbors, co-workers or friends; this is the book to help you.” —Julie A. Hartman (read the full review at Amazon)

“Metzger introduces a new approach to Christian witness called the relational-incarnational apologetics… For the church to be more effective in a pluralistic world, this book helps church leaders to understand both our differences and our common humanity so that respectful conversations can open opportunities for friendship and evangelism.” —D.J. Chuang (read the full review at Amazon)

“Dr. Paul Metzger has written a fine work relevant to the multifaith society we live in. He offers a perspective that is both unapologetically evangelical and irenic… Metzger models a refreshing approach for evangelism that is welcome in a climate that seems to be increasingly strident in spheres such as religion, politics and nationality.” —D. Chinn (read the full review at Amazon)


Sample Selections

Read chapter 11, “All In (Nietzschean Atheism)” and a response from Thomas W. Clark at CruPress Green

Read an excerpt at Christianity Today


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