How to Argue like Jesus

By Charles Huang, Contributing Writer

What does JC stand for? Jesus Christ to most, John Coleman (MBA/MPA OJ 2010) to others around campus. What both JCs share though, is a gift and talent for communication. Coleman has demonstrated his prowess as winner of the Fall 2008 HBS Speech Club’s BS Competition. However, some of Coleman’s oratory skill is undoubtedly modeled off of the other JC. While Jesus Christ of Nazareth roamed the earth thousands of years ago, his persuasive communication skills are still apropos today in the 21st century (ahem) argues John Coleman and his co-author Joe Carter (JC again?!?!) in the recently published book, “How to Argue Like Jesus”.

The book sets out first by establishing the persuasive qualities that Jesus employed to convert non-believers and attract followers in his day: pathos, logos, and ethos which all can be effectively employed thousands of years later in today’s world for similar impact and result. (For those who are rusty in their recollections of AP Latin and for those who generally are confused by certain terms, Coleman and Carter have included a succinct glossary for reference.) Chapter 4 (Narratives and Imagery) utilizes passages from the Bible containing stories of Jesus or how Jesus used stories to convert individuals to his cause. Chapters 5 and 6 focus on Discipleship and Heavenly Heuristics (or rules of thumb) to further impart insight into how leaders can ensure they maintain the ability to attract and retain followers. Finally, the last chapter is a series of applicable case-studies that reinforce elements of JC’s persuasive and effective communication technique. In fact, the case connections are so effective that perhaps more in depth examples could be used to further demonstrate the efficacy of Jesus Christ’s persuasive communications techniques.

Not Just Preaching
By Justin Joffe, Contributing Writer
How to Argue Like Jesus is not just for followers of Christianity. Coleman and Carter successfully use scripture as one of many examples to illustrate powerful principles of persuasive communication. The book presents a set of foundational principles and techniques, and illustrates how Jesus effectively used these techniques to evoke emotion and passion in his followers. Coleman and Carter extend beyond religion, touching topics of government, business, and personal life. The authors reference figurative giants of the likes of Aristotle, Clinton, Mandela, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Adam Smith, Julius Caesar, and modern pop-culture references such as Tom Cruise, Andre Agassi, Rocky Balboa, Emily Dickenson, and Malcolm Gladwell. The use of cultural references, political figureheads, and religious leaders across international boundaries (references to the Chinese philosopher Mo Tzu and the Nyaya schools of philosophy in India), make How to Argue Like Jesus an intellectually stimulating read for a broad audience.

The authors successfully tie the book’s content to practical applications in the reader’s life. Whether using these techniques to win an argument against a sibling, create a connection with your audience in public speech, or create an effective mission statement for your company, the authors neatly link their content to gain relevance with readers. Each chapter also concludes with a well-summarized quick-reference guide of key concepts.

How to Argue Like Jesus is a well-written, entertaining, and intellectually valuable read.

Both Justin and Charles believe..
Best Reason to Read:
– RCs: provides helpful supplemental reading for NEG
– ECs: provides helpful skills for negotiating down costs for yet another long EC
weekend trip to the Caribbean
– HBS Partners: provides helpful skills for persuading your HBS partner to feel guilty about all
the time they spend with section and HBS classmates to justify your recent shopping purchase
– HBS Staff: provides helpful skills for negotiating yet another sponsored research trip to
Latin America during the cold Boston winter

Best Feature:
– Checking in at 159 pages, the small book only has slightly more text than the typical BGIE case
(with exhibits of course)

Check out John at the following speaking events:
– March 9th: Harvard Business School Book Event, Aldrich 112 3:00 pm
– March 18th: Discussion with the Harvard Business School Christian Fellowship, location tbd 6:00 pm
– April 9th: Discussion with the Harvard Kennedy School Christian Fellowship, location and time tbd
– April 13th: Book event at the Harvard COOP, 7:00 pm