I had the amazing opportunity last night to go with a couple of friends to here Ravi Zacharias and Stuart MacAllister speak in Gastonia, NC. Hearing these two men of God speak on the supremacy of Christ was a real treat to say the least. In the midst of all of this a couple of things stuck out to me that pertain to the nature of evangelism or mission in the United States today. First Dr. MacAllister said that the apologetic that is needed the most in American today is, borrowing Paul's words, "Christ and Him crucified." Later Dr. Zacharias went on to tell a rather humorous story about a family who didn't know the story of Jericho's wall being brought down. These two points, along with the rest that was said, made me ponder the state and method of evangelism in America.
1. Do we need to begin approaching our home territory similar to the way we approach missions abroad?
- The reason I bring up this question is because, like most of western Europe, the US is in danger of becoming a "post-Christian" society. We are losing young people in droves as they enter into college and the workforce. Religious discourse is all but banned from the public arena and the pseudo-intellectual phenomenon called "post-modernism" is spreading like an unpleasant rash. Fewer and fewer people have any idea who Christ claimed to be and their knowledge of the name comes from it's deplorable use as an expletive. Thus, it may be unfair and unwise for us to assume that the people we come in contact with and are trying to reach have any real notion of Christ, His message or His work.
2. What role do Christian apologetics play in the evangelistic effort?
- This a particularly troubling question to me because I am in the final stages of writing a thesis explaining the importance of apologetics in evangelism. I still firmly believe that the value of apologetics cannot be overstated but if a person is obstinate and clearly immovable in their unbelief, when to we pull up our anchor and move to more friendly harbors? To me, one of the primary appeals of apologetics is that it shows the Christian message and worldview to be at home in the intellectual marketplace. That is, this is not an old superstition that is based on myth and unfounded hope. Rather the Christian worldview not only holds it's own in the world of ideas but supersedes the rest in every way. It is coherent, comprehensive and matches with reality.
3. Are the days of massive, nationwide revival over?
- I, for one, do not believe so. One of the things that was pointed out last night was the Churches ability to grow exponentially in times of persecution. Ravi made mention of a man in India who said that if you want the Christians to go away, leave them alone. Because if you persecute them (us) they will multiply. This is the unpleasant truth about Christian history. When ever the belt was tightened on the Church or taken off and used against the Church, she has grown. While we still live in a free and largely tolerant society the winds of change can be felt on that front. It is massively unpopular to be an evangelical, orthodox, conservative Christian. We may see the day when believers are truly persecuted here in our nation. If that is the case I would put my money on a massive resurgence of Christianity in America. Does it have to happen that way? No, I do not believe so. History shows us again and again that revival has swept the land even when it was amiable to Christianity. However, it may be that this time it doesn't come to us so easily.
4. When do we knock the dust off of our shoes and simply give up and move on?
- Simple, never. If God was going to give up on humanity it probably would have been when we were nailing His Son to the cross...but God didn't. That is not to say that, to use an analogy from last night, we don't move to another branch for a while if we have to but I don't think we should ever give up. Another important reason I say this is because I think about the view of the earth from space. The countries aren't different colors and there aren't lines between Canada and the US or Mexico. It is all one world and God cares about the people of the world. One objection would be that God cares especially for the Jews. Yes He does but even that nation is not defined by geography. God cares about all of His creation, it is all groaning for the day of His appearing and I don't think we should ever "give up" on a nation or country because Christ died for all. Undoubtedly God allows some to continue towards the flames and removes the unction of the Holy Spirit but that is God's business and we are not God. It would be unfair of us to assume that God has quit trying on some people only to find out we were being used by Him to try again.
Just some thoughts I had.