There are two kinds of ’emerging’ evangelism currently growing in popularity. One is the “mystical, spiritual sensory experiences” method, and one is the “dialogue and conversation” method. These methods are being used in response to the “postmodern” worldview and thinking in our culture at this time. The predominant worldview is humanism and intellectual relativism which denies the ability to know truth. And of course, everybody is “spiritual”.
The “dialogue and conversation” method may or may not be related to the “missional” method, which is about being “relational”, and “incarnational” with the gospel- that is, just “being” Jesus to someone, i.e., because you are such a great guy, a person will see and be impressed, and get saved, even if they have no idea who Jesus is, or what He did or why. We talked before about the importance of words, and the idea that if being “missional” means being an imbedded, indigenous, ‘tent maker’ believer who shares the gospel with words in his natural setting, in relationships and encounters with people, as he goes about his life, that is effective, strategic evangelism; but if words are not used somehow to convey the message, that this is not actually evangelism- it is just being nice and friendly.
Dialogue and conversation with a relativistic humanist intellectual is fine if you actually get around to sharing the gospel, as propostitional truth, with words, to them, even if they think that propositional truth can not be known, or that we can’t know the meaning of words. This is not to say that good Apologetics should not be used to answer questions and to prove and defend the faith. Apologetics is a very important ministry and often is a part of evangelism. But if only dialogue occurs, in which both parties share what they believe as though they are both equal and valid belief systems or philosophies, this is not evangelism. The enemy is using this method to try to turn believers into doubters/skeptics as dialogue acheives consensus, and a happy compromise and synthesis of philosophical “middle ground” is agreed upon by the opposing sides. This is how the Harlot global spirituality (one world religion of universalism/globalism) is being created, right now. Rev.17. Everyone and anything is welcome in this Religious Babylon, except the true Jesus and true bible believers, who just won’t get synthesized into the mix.
For those trying to reach the “spiritual” in the culture, some are turning to icons and symbols to express a sense of aesthetic spirituality–even if the symbols are intended to represent Christ and the gospel– but again, this is not evangelism. To share Christ, words must be used, because this is God’s method. Jesus is the Word, so Jesus is God’s method, as well as the message. And God chooses to use us mere, weak, redeemed, vessels of clay, to bring the message of words to those He wants us to share them with. So, we are used by God (as we are led by the Spirit), as His method of bringing the gospel to men, with words. This is why we are called “ambassadors for Christ” (2Cor.5:19-20.). We bring the message with words.
The method (words) and the message (the gospel of Jesus Christ) have not changed to fit postmodern thought. The gospel has not changed for the 21st Century. God has not changed His instructions to us to preach, teach, tell, and proclaim.
If this seems out of touch with current trends, and unsophisticated and unintellectual or foolish to the postmodern world, that is ok. God is pleased and honored by His method and His message, and our obedience to His commands, and that is what matters. God is faithful to save those who are the called, who will believe through the truth of the gospel proclaimed.
For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through it’s wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed, Jews ask for a sign, and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.1Cor.1:18-29.
Here is an excerpt from another excellent article on the importance of words; this one by Bob DeWaay. This article compares using words with using icons or symbols alone:
Words are the gift of God to rational man (created in His image) that allow us to make distinctions and transfer our knowledge of categories to one another. Attacks against the reliability of words to convey meaning are attacks against God Himself who has spoken. When God wished to communicate His plan of salvation in the greatest way ever, He didn’t send symbols, icons, or ambiguous religious experiences; He sent His Son into tangible human history, and He spoke! The Bible says, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1, 2).
Satan is always making the same challenge to God’s Word that he made in the Garden—“Has God said.”
Continue reading Why Icons Cannot Preach the Gospel.