A means of addressing felt needs…

Today, we share the gospel primarily as a means of addressing felt needs. We give testimonies of changed lives and say to people that if they want to become better parents or overcome depression or loneliness, then Christ is the answer for them. As true as this may be, such an approach to evangelism is inadequate for two reasons. First, it does not reach people who may be out of touch with their feelings. Consequently, if men in our culture are in general less in touch with their feelings than women, this approach will not reach men effectively. Second, it invites the response, “Sorry, but I don’t have a need” Have you ever wondered why no one responded to the apostle Paul in this manner? If you look at his evangelistic approach in Acts 17-20, the answer becomes obvious. He based his preaching on the fact that the gospel is true and reasonable to believe. He reasoned with and tried to persuade people intelligently to accept Christ.

Now, if the gospel is true and reasonable to believe, then it is obvious that every person has a need for Christ’s forgiveness and power, whether or not that person “feels” that need. The only response to the Pauline evangelistic approach is either to accept Christ or deny the truth of the gospel. The person approached is not let off the hook simply because he is out of touch with his feelings or doesn’t recognize the “felt need: The fact that many respond to our evangelistic efforts by denying a need for Christ should tip us off to an important fact. If truth and reasonableness are not uppermost in our presentation of the gospel to a pagan culture already predisposed to regarding religion as a set of private feelings, then we’ll consistently hear this response: “Well, that’s fine for you if having those feelings helps you.” Religion is now viewed by many as a placebo or emotional crutch precisely because that is how we often pitch the gospel to unbelievers.

J. P. Moreland, from Love Your God With All Your Mind, kindle location 243

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