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With a PhD in communication (Purdue University) and a PhD in New Testament (Oxford University), Duane Litfin—president emeritus of Wheaton College—is in a unique position to write on the relationship between words and deeds, between verbal and non-verbal communication. In his new book Word versus Deed: Resetting the Scales to a Biblical Balance (Crossway, 2012), he explores this issues, arguing that both are essential and must be understood in their proper relationship.

In the video below I ask him a few questions about the project:

Crossway has provided a table of contents with timestamps:

00:01 – The subtitle of your book is “Resetting the Scales to a Biblical Balance.” What is the imbalance that you are seeing?
2:03 – Could you sketch a rough outline of how this imbalance came to be?
5:35 – How does your own history play into your interest in this subject?
7:07 – Tell us a little about the non-verbal aspect of communication.
9:30 – So in a sense, this is also a corrective towards conservatives who’ve downplayed the role of deeds in the life of the church?
10:21 – Could you give us an example or two of the ways in which the Bible is being misapplied in this discussion?
17:24 – What are the dangers of a church defining their mission as only evangelism?
12:10 – What is your take on Matthew 25? How is that passage in particular being used in this discussion?
16:08 – What, in your view, are the long-term effects of motivating the church to do good and legitimate things, but building them on the wrong basis?

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5 thoughts on “An Interview with Duane Litfin on “Word vs. Deed””

  1. Dane Ortlund says:


  2. John says:


    Every time the issue of “deeds not creeds” comes up I have the same questions:

    What good deeds? With limited funds we can not do every thing.

    How many good deeds does it take? The Boy Scouts used to say one a day.

    The reason I ask is because I have never been in a church that didn’t do any good deeds or even know an Individual who did no good deeds.

    So what has to be done for the good deed stamp of approval?

    On the other hand I have been in many churches that have stopped preaching the Gospel and I have met many individuals who can not tell you what the good news is.

    Has anyone else experienced this? I just can’t think of one person whether they are religious or not who did not do any good deeds. I don’t even know of any organization that doesn’t do any good works. So it must be a matter of quality and quantity. Lots of people talk about it but I have not found an answer yet.

    The answer I am sure of is found at the cross of Jesus.

  3. Susan says:

    Very good point about Matt. 25. I’ve often thought that what is missed in the social justice emphasis is that we are first and foremost to be caring for fellow believers….then others.

    There is definitely an imbalance away from evangelism in most churches currently. It seems to be forgotten that if we don’t verbalize the gospel to those we seek justice and mercy for we are leaving them on the broad road which leads to hell….but then hell isn’t spoken of much anymore either (I think there’s a connection there). Many fail to recognize the power of the spoken word of the gospel, and that our deeds aren’t necessary to the power.

    Many good points!

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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