Editor’s Introduction -- By: Anonymous
RAR 2:3 (Summer 1993) p. 9
Is there any subject which more interests those who are vitally related to Jesus Christ than evangelism? Indeed, even those from the more liberal traditions and mainline denominations have taken increasing interest in the subject in recent decades, what with the decline of membership in their respective churches.
Interest in evangelism has concerned the Christian church from its inception. Did not Jesus teach His disciples that after the Holy Spirit came upon them, “you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)? We read in Acts 8:4, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” When the Holy Spirit came upon the infant church the promise of Acts 1:8 was applied to all, not just to the apostles. The task of evangelism has always been the concern of the whole church, and especially so in times of Spirit-given awakening and reformation. Though evangelism is not the same as revival—a mistaken assumption of the past 50 years or so in the evangelical movement of the West—one can not pray for spiritual awakening and remain disobedient to the task of evangelism and mission. As John Blanchard has written, “No church is obedient that is not evangelistic.” Evangelism of the best and most effective sort will be a major evidence of any genuine revival that we might experience in our generation.
But what is evangelism? Why should we engage in it? What methods does Scripture warrant us to use in reaching men and women with the message of Christ? What does theology have to do with evangelism?
Evangelism for well over a generation has been done in a doctrinal vacuum in the West. And much of what has been exported to other fields of Christian mission has reflected this same doctrinal fuzziness and shallowness. Time has come to reflect seriously upon much of what is being done today in the name of evangelism. If what we are doing is truly
RAR 2:3 (Summer 1993) p. 10
evangelism, well and good, but if it is busy activity only, or, worse yet, harmful activity, then we must call it into question on the basis of sola scriptura.
The result of this doctrinal vacuum can be seen in our preoccupation with methods of evangelism, to the virtual exclusion of understanding and concentrating on the question of “What is the evangel itself?” Are the messages being preached, the tracts handed out, the patterns of presentation memorized, and the booklets distributed genuinely faithful to the gospel message itself? Mass campaigns, radio and television...
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