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. Continue reading
J. Gresham Machen observed seventy-five years ago “this curious fact—when men talk thus about propagating Christianity without defending it, the thing that we are propagating is pretty sure not to be Christianity at all. They are propagating an anti-intellectualistic, nondoctrinal Modernism; and the reason why it requires no defense is simply that it is so completely in accord with the current of the age.” Nobody objects to a nondoctrinal Christianity because there is nothing to object to.
— Kevin DeYoung, from Why We’re Not Emergent, p. 107
The version of Christianity that was planted in Africa was largely divorced from the intellectual legacy of Christendom that had produced first-rate Christian scientists, moral philosophers, political thinkers, artists, business entrepreneurs, etc. It was instead the product of a pietistic strain of evangelicalism which was already in intellectual retreat in the West by the time it was coming to maturity in Africa. In short, since the advent of the missionary movement in the latter eighteenth century, the Judeo-Christian tradition has never been rooted in Africa as it had once been in the West. The West may presently be busy hacking away at the root of its moral foundations, but Africa in one sense has yet even to break ground in order to lay down a strong biblical foundation within its many cultures.
— J. M. Njoroge, from “Apologetics: Why Your Church Needs It” in Just Thinking the triannual communique of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Vol. 18.3, p. 19
If we think the gospel is simply a good deal that any reasonable person would accept, we’ll not only be amazed at how many people turn it down, but we may actually distort the message in the process of proclaiming it. We may strip the gospel of its supernatural and convicting elements, talking about the offer of a free gift, or going to heaven, or living forever, or feeling the freedom of forgiveness, or the need to make a decision as if these were parts of a benefits package.
To be sure, these are important components of the gospel message. But without the context of God’s holiness, the horror of our sinfulness, the need for repentance, and the necessity of the Cross instead of just a guidebook to better behavior, we’ll terribly misrepresent the gospel.
People need to hear the bad news in our message before they can appreciate the Good News. Not only do the minds of nonbelievers need to be persuaded, but also their knees need to buckle.
— Randy Newman, from Questioning Evangelism, p. 35
Some think of a personal testimony as evangelism. Certainly a testimony of what God has done in our lives may include the Good News, but it also may not include it. In telling other people how much Jesus means to you, you may not have told them the Gospel at all. Have you explained what Christ did by dying on the Cross? It is good to share your own testimony of what God has done in your life, but in your testimony, you may not actually make it clear what Christ’s claims are on other people. Continue reading
There must be a solid content in our evangelistic proclamation of Christ. It is our responsibility to set Jesus Christ forth in the fullness of his divine-human person and saving work so that through this “preaching of Christ” (Romans 10:13-14, 17) God may arouse faith in the hearer. Such evangelistic preaching is far removed from its tragic caricature, all too common today, namely an emotional, anti-intellectual appeal for “decisions” when the hearers have but the haziest notion what they are to decide about and why.
— John Stott, from Your Mind Matters, p. 66