Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Being like Edwards in a Finney Culture

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2-5 ESV

When I was a child, I attended a small Southern Baptist church which was both very Baptist and very Southern. Though I hold to a different theology now, I still have very fond memories of that church. In the church's office and educational building (which also included the Baptist favorite-the "fellowship hall"), above every door there was a sign that read "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE MISSION FIELD." As I'm sure I've mentioned before, my husband and I are committed to becoming career missionaries. Though we still have a few years before all the necessary degrees and ordinations are obtained, we often discuss our future on the "mission field" which will probably be overseas. Lately, I have been reminded that God's command to evangelize does not suddenly become applicable when all the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted. God requires me to evangelize now. But what does evangelism look like from a person who believes that the human spirit in it's natural state is totally dead and depraved? Francis Schaffer has much to say on this issue in his book, The God Who is There:

"Each person must be dealt with as an individual, not as a case or statistic or machine [p. 130]." "We must remember that the person to whom we are talking, however far from the Christian faith he may be, is an image-bearer of God. He has great value, and our communication with him must be in genuine Love. Love is not an easy thing; it is not just an emotional urge, but an attempt to move over and sit in the other person's place and see how his problems look to him. Love is a genuine concern for the individual....Therefore, to be engaged in personal ´witness' as a duty or because our Christian circle exerts a social pressure on us, is to miss the whole point. The reason we do it is that the person before us is an image-bearer of God, and he is an individual who is unique in the world. This kind of communication is not cheap."

The following are links to some very interesting videos about evangelism.

NOTE: I apologize that my title has disappointingly little to do with the actual content of the blog. I had intended to go in a slightly different (and believe it or not, more academic ) direction.

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