The Gospel Of American Individualism Versus The Gospel Of The Kingdom -- By: R. Alan Streett

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 01:2 (Fall 2003)
Article: The Gospel Of American Individualism Versus The Gospel Of The Kingdom
Author: R. Alan Streett

The Gospel Of American Individualism
Versus The Gospel Of The Kingdom

R. Alan Streett

Chairman and Professor of Evangelism
The Criswell College
4010 Gaston Avenue
Dallas, TX 75246

While the kingdom of God was the central theme of all gospel preaching in the New Testament, it has been virtually ignored by modern evangelists in the Western world. Considering the amount of time Jesus spent teaching and preaching about the kingdom, one assumes that the heralds of the twenty-first century would emulate their master. But not so!

Biblical scholars such as Ladd, Beasley-Murray, and Wright,1 whose insightful writings on the kingdom of God have impacted New Testament and theology departments in our seminaries, have barely seen the light of day in our departments of evangelism. As a result, professors of evangelism persist in teaching their students to preach a message and follow a method of evangelism whose roots can more easily be traced to the American Frontier rather than back to Jesus. Therefore, is it any wonder that an anthropocentric gospel of American individualism has replaced the God-centered “gospel of the kingdom?”

A Personal Investigation

Over the past several years, I have made a point to examine scores of evangelistic programs and publications to determine if and to what extent they focus on the kingdom of God.

My findings show a great dearth in the area. For example, Evangelism Explosion and F.A.I.T.H, the two most popular evangelistic programs used in American churches, do not mention or examine the kingdom at all. Likewise, none of the best-selling evangelistic tracts produced by our two largest tract societies deal with the kingdom in any significant way.2 Neither do such gospel booklets as The Four Spiritual Laws, Steps to Peace with God, and Bridge to Life. Additionally, within the past decade, no academic textbook on evangelism has been written which gives adequate attention to the kingdom.3

This absence of kingdom-centered evangelism has had devastating effects on the western church and has now reached a critical mass. The deficiency is so great that most evangelists and professors of evangelism would be hard-pressed to even define the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matt 24:14; Mark 1:14). Consequently, few who profess faith in Christ are actually converted, making for an anemic form of Christia...

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