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Evangelism #25708
Mon Jun 06, 2005 3:19 PM
Mon Jun 06, 2005 3:19 PM
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Tom Offline OP
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In one of Phil Johnson's blogs he writes:
Quote
Non-evangelism. Among more mainstream Calvinists, there are certainly some outstanding men who are earnestly evangelistic (Piper, MacArthur, and even Sproul). But it would be stretching things more than a little bit to insist that modern Calvinism as a movement is known by its passion for evangelism. Where are the Calvinist evangelists? I can think of only one outstanding example: John Blanchard. (There are surely more, but at the moment I can't think of any other famous Calvinists now living who have devoted their ministries primarily to evangelism).

Of course, I fully realize that the Arminian caricature of historic Calvinism as anti-evangelistic is a total lie. But one could hardly argue that evangelism is a key feature of modern Calvinism. Neither the writings we produce nor the conferences we hold focus much on evangelism.


Do you agree with Phil on these points?
If so why are there not more evangelists in modern Calvinism?

Tom

Re: Evangelism [Re: Tom] #25709
Mon Jun 06, 2005 6:21 PM
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Tom,

The paragraphs you quoted contained the following phrases containing a form of the term "evangelism":

earnestly evangelistic; passion for evangelism; evangelists; devoted their ministries primarily to evangelism; Neither ... writings ... nor conferences ... focus much on evangelism

My concern with the critique--assuming it was unaccompanied by a more in-depth explanation--is that it equivocates the term "evangelism" as understood among Arminians and Calvinists, and ends up measuring Calvinist activity by the Arminian understanding.

This shows up in the phrase "famous Calvinists now living who ...". Well, what if the biblical approach to evangelism does not necessarily generate fame for the evangelist? Think of parents who catechise their covenant children, elders who disciple their flocks over the decades, VBS teachers and children's club leaders who begin to expose the pagan children to their place in redemptive history, laymen who go out on evenings to talk to their neighborhood gang members about the sole rule of Christ, college students who meekly challenge the foolishness of their wise professors' presuppositions, reformed missionaries strengthening national pastors with sound teaching under the very noses of hostile governments; are not all of these doing the work of an evangelist, and are not each of these primarily equipped and motivated to do so, not by writings and conferences, but by the normal ministry of the church?

Having said that, yes--we have held evangelism seminars and classes--but primarily to raise these issues among those who were not so trained.

I would prefer to say that there is always room for improvement, but I would see this less in terms of "mega-evangelists", but rather more church-planting, especially in urban areas. (It constantly surprises me that the majority of the reformed participants at this site seem to be in rural/suburban environments, while a large majority of people in North America are city-dwellers) Within an hour's drive from here in the Bronx I could find over a dozen adequately reformed churches in suburban nothern New Jersey, but there are only a handful in this huge city itself. I appreciate rural Erskine College's decision last year to open a branch campus in Harlem. Would that more would be willing to go where most people really live, or short of that, to use their resources in a way that would assist those who do ...


In Christ,
Paul S
Re: Evangelism [Re: Paul_S] #25710
Mon Jun 06, 2005 7:04 PM
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Paul,

Excellent post! I would add two things:

1. Evangelism is the faithfully preaching of the Gospel, regardless of the response we get.

2. We forget that a major thing we are called to do is edify, encourage, and exhort one another in the truth. Preaching the Gospel to ourselves is important as well as preaching it to non-believers <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

I agree with you that the children of our churches are a whole mission field of their own. In fact, it would be devastating to forget that!

I also agree that more church-planting in urban areas should be done. I am thankful that my own church is committed to Reformed theology as well as committed to witnessing and serving in a part of town that is known for its poverty. It makes sense that Calvinists would be able to be used the most in an urban area, as one would most likely have to believe in the sovereignty of God, the power of the Gospel to save sinners, and the necessity of evangelism even when you face opposition.


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
Re: Evangelism [Re: Tom] #25711
Mon Jun 06, 2005 11:17 PM
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I think Phil may have had foreign missions in mind in particular, and there I think what he says has substantial merit, and should be a cause for concern and reflection among Calvinists, especially those in Presbyterian denominations. If Baptists have not very often "reached for the stars" in doctrinal and systematic theology, Presbyterians have shown themselves to be less than impressive in the sphere of world missions. Read any work on evangelism or missions by a Presbyterian and you'll likely be impressed by its truthfulness and cogency, and even the "passion" and "fervency" of its writer. But what is lacking is more in the way of drive or fervency or burden among the laity and at the local church level to see the Gospel proclaimed to every tongue and tribe. With Baptist I feel this is more second nature, and it results more in action than talk, even if there is often a lack of serious theological reflection. Reflection tends to be more common among Reformed Baptists than among "Purpose-Driven" Arminians, but the passion for the glory of God in missions is no less intense. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/my2cents.gif" alt="" />


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Re: Evangelism [Re: Tom] #25712
Tue Jun 07, 2005 12:01 AM
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Food for thought:

What theology owns the term 'evangelical'? Personally I believe it is reformed theology. Joseph Smith and others of his ilk certainly had zeal, and growth in numbers but they did not own the evangel. Todays "evangelicalism" and "easy-believeism" do not own it, nor should we take lessons from them or use them for comparison.
We know from God's Word that preaching, and the sacraments are means of grace. I know less of Presbies regarding evangelism. But I grew up in a reformed denom that certainly supported missionary activity heavily. And I currently am part of a reformed church that does so as well. Certainly the preaching I hear from Lord's day to Lord's day is equipping me to give a defense to all who call on me to account for the hope that is in me.

I (Paul) planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. I Corinthians 3:6


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Re: Evangelism [Re: Paul_S] #25713
Tue Jun 07, 2005 2:45 AM
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Paul

Phil is not in any way wanting Calvinists to adopt Arminians strategies. He is just commenting on the fact that in the past Calvinism had a lot more Calvinists who were devoted to evangelism as their primary ministry.
Perhaps if you read the whole blog called Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism you would understand where he is coming from. (Scroll down to get to article)

Tom

Re: Evangelism [Re: Tom] #25714
Tue Jun 07, 2005 3:31 AM
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Tom,

Quote
Phil is not in any way wanting Calvinists to adopt Arminians strategies. He is just commenting on the fact that in the past Calvinism had a lot more Calvinists who were devoted to evangelism as their primary ministry.


I see now from the link you provided that his contrast (not readily apparent from the original quote, which is why I issued the caveat "assuming it was unaccompanied by a more in-depth explanation") was not between Calvinist and Arminian, but rather between "historic" and "modern/Internet" Calvinists.

That said, I restate my concern over his framing of the issue primarily in light of the practice of "famous Calvinists", including, according to the issue in the blog article, those with wide media access, particularly on the Internet, and reiterate that using that measure of comparison of evangelistic activity is itself a peculiarly modern, American concept of evangelism, predominant among but not unique to Arminians, in which the best evangelism requires the widest exposure of the most well-known personalities, rather than each in his own calling, primarily in the context of the local church.


In Christ,
Paul S
Re: Evangelism [Re: Tom] #25715
Tue Jun 07, 2005 6:02 AM
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Thanks for the link <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/BigThumbUp.gif" alt="" />. "Quick and Dirty Calvinism" is an EXCELLENT post on what promises to be an excellent blog. I've already shared it with several friends.

I thought the following points were especially important and well stated:


Quote

I don't think the problem really lies in Geneva, or in historic Calvinism, or in any of the classic Reformed creeds. I especially don't think the stench arises from any problem with Calvinism per se. In my judgment, the problem is a fairly recent down n' dirty version of callow Calvinism that has flourished chiefly on the Internet and has been made possible only by the new media.


Quote

Today's rank-and-file Calvinists are more in the mold of Pink, Boettner, and J.I. Packer than they are like Spurgeon or Whitefield. In other words, modern Calvinism is producing mostly students and polemicists, not evangelists and preachers. That's because Internet Calvinism is simply too academic and theoretical and not concerned enough with doing, as opposed to hearing, the Word (James 1:22). To a large degree, I think that's what the medium itself encourages.


Quote

The upsurge of Calvinism on the Internet in the 1990s seems to have spawned a large and unprecedented movement of jejune Calvinists who wear arrogance as if it were the team uniform. That kind of hotshot, shoot-from-the-hip Calvinism is ugly. I don't blame anyone for being appalled by it. I'm worried about those who think it's a good thing.


Quote

Yes, Calvinism is virile; it's relentless when it comes to truth; and it's not always easy to swallow. But it is full of truths that should humble us and fill us with compassion rather than swagger and conceit. The best Calvinism has always been fervently evangelistic, large-hearted, benevolent, merciful, and forgiving. After all, that's what the doctrines of grace are supposed to be all about.


Quote

And meanwhile, my advice to young Calvinists is to learn your theology from the historic mainstream Calvinist authors, not from blogs and discussion forums on the Internet. Some of the forums may be helpful in pointing you to more important resources. But if you think of them as a surrogate for seminary, you're probably going to become an ugly Calvinist—and if you get hit in the face with a rotten egg, you probably deserve it.


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Re: Evangelism [Re: Paul_S] #25716
Tue Jun 07, 2005 8:05 AM
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Quote
Paul_S said:
That said, I restate my concern over his framing of the issue primarily in light of the practice of "famous Calvinists", including, according to the issue in the blog article, those with wide media access, particularly on the Internet, and reiterate that using that measure of comparison of evangelistic activity is itself a peculiarly modern, American concept of evangelism, predominant among but not unique to Arminians, in which the best evangelism requires the widest exposure of the most well-known personalities, rather than each in his own calling, primarily in the context of the local church.

I think that a systemic misinterpretation and thus misuse of Matt 28:19, 20 over several decades has been the biblical foundation for this modern idea of "evangelism"; i.e., the mass onslaught of "soul winners", totally untrained yet zealous to speak and/or gargantuan "crusades" that attract 10's of thousands to football stadiums where they are entertained and then given the "Four Spiritual Laws" or something similar.

In actuality, that passage does NOT say, "GO and make disciples... etc." but rather it says, "AS YOU ARE GOING make disciples... etc." The word for "go" in the Greek is an aorist participle. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> Thus the Lord's emphasis wasn't telling His disciples to go but as they were going about they were to make disciples and teach the Word to those whom they met. Yes, there is a place for missionaries, both foreign and local who are to evangelize, make disciples and teach them all things; the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). And on a lesser scale, all who profess Christ are to do likewise as the Lord provides the opportunity, i.e., as they go about in their daily lives, they are to speak of Christ at opportune times. This is in stark contrast to the typical hyper-zealous soul-winner who indiscriminately stuffs a tract in people's hands and blurts out, "God loves you!" to everyone who even comes near. I am of the notion that the bulk of evangelism done by "non-professional evangelists" should be personal; i.e., expressing your genuine personal concern for an individual as a human being rather than going out and trolling for "victims" and seeing people as potential "trophies".

That's my [Linked Image]


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Re: Evangelism [Re: Pilgrim] #25717
Tue Jun 07, 2005 9:47 AM
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I believe that one thing that stands out the most when one enters a reformed church for the first time, as I did myself not so long ago, is the focus that is placed on Missions. I was delighted to experience that awareness presented every Sunday on missions and missionaries. I was also very delighted to see that apart of the churches ministry was the fact that the church leaders are taking the job of Christian education seriously for the training and preparing anyone who felt lead to enter into the missionary field. I thought to myself.... "Wow! They actually expect people to consider entering into the mission field." They actually take foreign missions very seriously!" This is awesome. I came from a church that put absolutely no importance on missions.

But with saying that, I do not see allot of importance placed on local evangelism. There is no ministry that I see in the local reformed churches around where I live that are "taking it to the streets." But I do see that at some of the bigger reformed churches around the country that there are ministries that focus on this type of evangelism. So I do not think that this should be a matter of concern.... BECAUSE..... guess what? I don't see that sort of ministry happing in other churches in my local area either, Episcopal, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic etc... I do go and attend and read literature from other churches periodically. This helps me to be a better church leader. I don't see allot of evangelizing going on in any of the smaller denominational churches.

I believe there is a reason for this. The "Evangelizing" that is being done is from the pulpit. This is where the Word and sacraments are being given. I believe it is our responsibility as laymen to be a strong witness and encourage people to attend church. This is one way we can evangelize and bring people to Christ. Although, If someone asks you about your faith, I believe that you ought to be prepared to share the gospel.

There were some example though given by Phil Johnson.... R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper. Well.... come on, these examples are all pretty HUGE ministries. If you don't consider these ministries making a huge impact for the reformed faith, think again. I can say with assurance that it is because if R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries that the reformed faith is being taught and shared in the PCUSA church that I used to attend. I believe that MacArthur's ministry is making a big impact in the baptist community.

But I would just like to add a few more reformed names here to the list that I believe are also making an impact for reformed evangelism.

Jerry Bridges is an author and Bible teacher. His most popular title, The Pursuit of Holiness, has sold over one million copies. He has authored several other books including The Discipline of Grace and Trusting God. As a full-time staff member with The Navigators for many years, Bridges is currently a part of the Navigator collegiate ministry group where he is involved in staff training and serves as a resource to campus ministries. For 15 years he was the vice president for corporate affairs for The Navigators. He also speaks at numerous conferences both in the U.S. and overseas. He and his wife Jane, live in Colorado Springs, CO.

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson serves as a Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary's Dallas, Texas campus. Dr. Ferguson has been a Visiting Professor of Systematic Theology with Westminster for many years and serves as an editor with the Banner of Truth Trust. In addition, he previously served as a full time professor at the Philadelphia campus until taking a call to St. George’s Tron Church in Glasgow, Scotland in 1998. He studied at the University of Aberdeen for his M.A., B.D., and Ph.D. degrees, was ordained in the Church of Scotland in 1971, and served in pastoral ministry in Scotland from 1971-1982.

Dr. James White is the director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, AZ. He is a professor, teaching Greek, Hebrew, and apologetics. He has authored more than a dozen books, including The King James Only Controversy, The Forgotten Trinity, The Potter's Freedom, and The God Who Justifies. He is an accomplished debater, having engaged leading proponents of Roman Catholicism, Islam, and Mormonism in moderated, public debates. White is also an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. He has been married to Kelli for twenty years, and has two children, Joshua and Summer.

The Reverend Dr. Philip Graham Ryken is the senior minister at Philadelphia's historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He joined Tenth Presbyterian in 1995 and assumed the senior minister position in 2000. Dr. Ryken was educated at Wheaton College, Westminster Theological Seminary and the University of Oxford, from which he received his doctorate in historical theology. Dr. Ryken also serves on Board of Visitors of Wheaton College, and as Council Member with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He has written over one dozen books including some which he co-authored with James Montgomery Boice.

The Rev. Dr. Michael S. Horton is Professor of Apologetics and Theology at Westminster Seminary California. He is also the editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine and the main host of The White Horse Inn radio broadcast. He received his M.A. from Westminster Seminary California, his Ph.D. from Wycliff Hall, Oxford and the University of Coventry, and also completed a Research Fellowship at Yale University Divinity School.

G. I. Williamson received the B.D. degree from Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary. He has served congregations of the old United Presbyterian Church of North America, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, but most of his ministerial labors have been with the Reformed Churches of New Zealand and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church—in which he continues to serve. He is author of popular study guides to the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Shorter Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism, and is presently editor of Ordained Servant, a journal for elders and deacons.

These are just some of the names that I pulled up within a couple of minutes that have been very active supporting and spreading the reformed faith and evangelizing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Y.B.I.C,

Dave


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. - Galatians 2:16
Re: Evangelism [Re: Pilgrim] #25718
Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:00 AM
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I think evangelists should be like Phillip the Evangelist in the book of Acts. He was an "as you go" sort of a guy, did what the Lord asked of him. He does several things at the beginning of the book, baptizes the Ethiopian then is carried away and we don't hear from him again until Paul stays with him toward the end of the book. And see how the Lord blessed him with a home and a family? No you don't need a football stadium to preach the gospel and it's not about what comes out of your mouth. (More likely its what doesn't come out of your mouth.)

I'm sure the Lord has used some of these big ol' Supersized crusades to bring some folks to the Lord, but as I've said before there's not much aftercare of the babes they produce. Can't say that about the ones who are saved as a result of local church activity--most of the time.

Frankly, if a fellow doesn't get the idea that he needs to get saved after listening to R.C. Sproul or MacArthur or one of those guys then there's a problem that can't be fixed. (I don't know if Packer preaches but that'd be something to hear!)


Josh
"...the word of God is not bound."--2 Timothy 2:9
Re: Evangelism [Re: doulos] #25719
Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:41 AM
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Just one more note. I believe if one is truly "reformed" in their faith, then one truly believes the concept of a "remnant", and if one is post or amill, one doesn't necessarily believe that there will be a large conversion in the church. I think... sorry, I'm still new to the whole eschatology thing. But anyway, my point is that we ought to take our evangelism seriously but at the same time always trying to keep a balance and in realizing that "evangelism" shouldn't overshadow everything else like modern evangelicals tend to teach. I also believe that "conversion" in most people is not an overnight process. I don't believe in alter-calls and the effectiveness of inviting "Jesus into your heart" after an emotional sermon. I believe that we each have a small part to play in someone's conversion experience and it's up to the means of grace and the Holy Spirit to truly work in a sinners heart. So if one is truly "reformed" then I believe one looks at evangelism in a slightly different way then your main stream evangelical faith believer. Not to minimize it's importance but to view it in a right perspective.

One other thing I would like to point out. It seems to me that there is SO MUCH focus on evangelism and conversion in the main stream evangelical church that it has completely lost it's focus on the sanctification/perseverance of the saints. Which I see as a gross error, a very gross error.

I really like this article found here on The-Highway. Reformed Evangelism by Morton Smith

Dave.


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. - Galatians 2:16
Re: Evangelism [Re: Pilgrim] #25720
Tue Jun 07, 2005 2:42 PM
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Pilgrim

Do you agree or disagree with what Phil said?

Tom

Re: Evangelism [Re: Reformation Monk] #25721
Tue Jun 07, 2005 3:02 PM
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Thanks for posting that link. It was very helpful <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
Re: Evangelism [Re: Tom] #25722
Tue Jun 07, 2005 4:31 PM
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Tom said:
Do you agree or disagree with what Phil said?

Neither! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Not being familiar with every Calvinistic church that currently exists nor having any reliable data to affirm or deny what MacArthur wrote, it wouldn't be prudent for me to offer an opinion, one way or another. It would appear that his main concern is in the area of "full-time" evangelists, i.e., itinerant preachers as opposed to laymen speaking of Christ on a regular basis. I do agree, however, when he said that we should not use the modern Arminian model of evangelism as a standard and by which we would then make a judgment. If, however, we accept that Missionaries are the biblical "Evangelists", then I would say the majority of Reformed/Calvinistic churches are doing a reasonably good job. If we were to judge the quality of many (most?) Missionaries sent out by Reformed/Calvinistic churches, especially in regard to the message they preach and teach, then I would say the situation is appalling. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rolleyes2.gif" alt="" />

In His Grace,


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