Contemporary Evangelism Potpourri Part II -- By: Earl D. Radmacher

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 123:490 (Apr 1966)
Article: Contemporary Evangelism Potpourri Part II
Author: Earl D. Radmacher

Contemporary Evangelism Potpourri
Part II

Earl D. Radmacher

Confusion concerning the Method of Evangelism

If we suppose that we have come now to some agreement on the underlying motives for evangelism and the inherent nature of the message of evangelism, what then is to be our method of presentation? Once again, there are those who claim that we must first meet the social needs of man before we present this message. Now these folk are not confusing the method with the message, but what about their order of presentation? Is it valid? One must admit that it certainly has the force of logic on its side, as the ancient Chinese proverb says: “It is difficult to tell the difference between right and wrong when the stomach is empty.” In more recent times, (Mahatma) Ghandi observed: “To the millions who have to go without two meals a day, the only acceptable form in which God dare appear is food.”1

The great Princeton scholar, J. Gresham Machen, addressed himself to this thinking: “Persons who adopt that attitude may with plausibility argue that the most important thing that you have to do for a man is not always the first thing that you must do for him. If a man is in the water drowning, the most important thing to do for him is to preach the gospel to him for the saving of his soul, but that it not the first thing to do for him. The first thing to do for him is to pull him out of the water and give him artificial respiration.

“It might seem to be the same way with humanity as a whole. Humanity is drowning in the water, or, to change the figure slightly, is sinking in the mire. The first thing to do might seem to be to pull it out in order that after it has been pulled out we may ask it to deal with the unseen things. Let the church show what it can do with the plain emergency as it actually exists in this world—so the argument might run—and then, if it proves able to do that, the world may think it worth listening to if it talks about God. Plausible reasoning this—plausible, but utterly untrue.

“In the first place, the program that this reasoning proposes will not work. It proposes that we shall first deal with the political and social emergency, and then afterwards deal with the unseen thing, but what was it that brought the emergency upon us in the first place? Was it something in the realm of that which can be seen? Not at all. The physical resources of the world were amply sufficient for the world’s needs. No, the thing that brought the emergency upon us was something in the realm of the unseen things.

“Moreover, if it was something within that realm that brought the emergenc...

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