Evangelism in a Postmodern World: Acts 17:16–34 -- By: Norman L. Geisler

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 21:2 (Spring 2004)
Article: Evangelism in a Postmodern World: Acts 17:16–34
Author: Norman L. Geisler


Evangelism in a Postmodern World:
Acts 17:16–34

Norman L. Geisler

President and CEO
Professor of Theology and Apologetics
Southern Evangelical Seminary
3000 Tilley Morris Road
Matthews, North Carolina 28105

My title this morning is, “Evangelism in a Postmodern World,” and I want to begin with a testimony. When I became a Christian fifty-three .years ago, February 12, 1950,1 was a senior in high school. The people who discipled me believed in on-the-job training. I was saved on Sunday. Monday, we went door to door calling, cold turkey; I was one day old in the Lord. Tuesday, we did three meetings cold turkey. Wednesday, we had prayer meeting, and Thursday we went to a jail service. (That is where I met my wife. She was playing the organ; I was preaching). Friday, we visited the city rescue mission in downtown Detroit (where I am from), and Saturday was dedicated to Youth for Christ. Sunday was church. That was my week; I thought everyone did that. I just assumed that was the normal Christian life. I did not have any time to backslide. Three or four weeks into my Christian life, I was witnessing downtown in front of the rescue mission, and a drunk staggered up to me and said, “I am a graduate of Moody Instibibletute, and you are not supposed to be doing this.” Then he grabbed my Bible, red-letter edition, out of my hands and said, “Now look at this.” He pointed to a section in the Gospels and said, “Read that.” I looked at it and read, “Jesus said, ‘Go and tell no man.’ “ Then he said, “Now get out of here. Jesus doesn’t want you to do this.” I had no idea what that verse meant.

Jehovah’s Witnesses had tied me up already; Roman Catholics tried proving to me that you have to have a priest to forgive your sins, and I had to make a decision. The decision was this: Either I am going to have to get some answers, or I am going to have to stop witnessing. I dedicated my life to getting answers, and here I am fifty-three years later to tell you that there are answers. As we evangelize this postmodern world, we can not separate apologetics from evangelism. It is absolutely impossible to do so. I would like for you to turn to Acts 17 as a primary example of how to do apologetics in a postmodern world. Acts 17:16–34 reads,

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers and in the

marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. Then certain Epicurean and Stoic ...

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