Scott McKnight alerted me to a couple of posts by philosopher Jeff Cook on the topic of desire and reason in evangelism (1,2). Cook contends that “the debate about God today is not about what’s reasonable—it is almost entirely about preferences and desire.” That doesn’t mean he is opposed to using reason or providing evidence for Christianity in our evangelism of the lost. He simply believes that this alone will not persuade most people because it is not rationality alone that causes them to reject Christianity.
Cook proposes that if people are going to be persuaded by our reasons for Christianity, they must first want there to be a God. In his words, “Wanting God to exist is more important than believing in God. By ‘more important,’ I mean desire is more crucial to the transformation of a person’s heart, more helpful in moving them toward faith in Christ, and more instrumental in one’s ‘salvation’ than right thinking. … It seems then that enticing the passions and wills of those who do not follow Christ is far more important than targeting their intellect with arguments for God’s existence. Showing that God is desirable will be the primary target of the successful 21st century apologist, for wanting God to exist opens highways for subpar apologetics; yet a closed heart will not here [sic] the voice of wisdom.”