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New View as Key to Evangelism

Not only is evangelism important in this New View, but the New View might be a key to evangelism many people in Western cultures, and possibly also in other cultures. It might even be a key to revival led by the Holy Spirit. Here are some initial points to consider:

On the Role of Evangelism

Something is wrong. In the days of the New Testament, the gospel was Good News. But in the Current View (Evangelical Version), the gospel is Bad News - "Unless you take Jesus as Saviour and Lord, you are doomed to Hell. And if you do, you must then submit to loads of rules that prevent fun." The Charismatic Version adds "Hey, you can get power to do supernatural things - but then you're expected to obey your church leaders without question, and to find worship the only thing in life worth doing." The Calvinist Version is even better, because it adds "And, by the way, you can't do anything about it, you're utterly helpless unless the Holy Spirit happens to select you for salvation."

In the days of the New Testament, evangelism was something the followers of Jesus Christ went around doing because they wanted to and found themselves in situations where it happened, and being a 'witness' was simply telling others (by word or life) what God had done. But under the Current View, evangelism and 'witnessing' are synonymous: telling people how to 'get saved', and they are something we 'ought' to do, though since most of us don't want to do it, it involves us screwing ourselves up to do this and our church leaders being under pressure to 'encourage' us to do it.

Yes, something is wrong with the Current Version. This New View tries to be such that the gospel is again Good News, 'witnessing' is again telling people what God has done, and 'evangelism' is such that we go around doing it without trying.

On the Place of Conversion

If the collection of people who are acceptable before God and will enter the Kingdom of God is wider than the set of those who pray to receive Christ - that is, if Christ's death is effective even for at least some of those who have not prayed that prayer - then what is the point of conversion? To answer this requires that we step back a bit.

It long perplexed me that there is very little in the New Testament that says unmistakeably "You must pray a prayer to receive Christ as Saviour and Lord in order to be acceptable before God" and only once "You must be born again". We can find the odd command by Peter to the Jews "Repent and believe". But many in Acts do something different, and their road to acceptance by God is varied. And in the Gospels we find much more about God's kingdom than about conversion.

When I asked "What makes a person acceptable before God?" it seems that it is not works, not is it accepting Christ and his atoning death; it is a humble attitude. It is summed up in Peter's words "God resists the proud but accepts the humble", and we find it throughout Scripture (e.g. "A humble and contrite heart, O God, you will not reject"). Therefore some act or 'decision' to accept Christ seems unnecessary in some cases. As long as the person has this humble heart orientated towards God.

But - perhaps paradoxically - I find myself inviting people to 'accept Christ' by just such a prayer. I find that, in practice, getting people to make a deliberate, volitional response to Christ and express that as a prayer of repentance, thanks and commitment, does something in and to them. Therefore, in my view, the 'prayer of commitment', though not always necessary, is not to be easily rejected.

So What Can Men Do?

In the UK at least, there has long been a problem of men, as opposed to women, being actively involved in 'church'. Men need a meaningful role, and this seems denied them in church unless they are in leadership. In a chat with Richard Russell recently (CSU), it became clear that a positive approach, which focuses on our destiny, on what we are intended to be, is better than focusing on the negative side. It starts with vision, even if it then goes to our failure and future hope. And it begins with a vision that is deep inside of us even though we don't know it.

Being shepherds of the rest of creation is a vision that can be very attractive to men-of-today especially.

Being shepherds of the rest of creation - to develop and care for it - means not just caring for the individuals, but also developing and opening it up. This means the whole challenge of science, technology, etc. as we open up the distinct spheres of law of creation to 'live with God for the world he loves'. (For a philosophical view on this, see Dooyeweerd's view of progress.)

(Contradiction? Did I not say elsewhere that this vision is for men and women equally? Of course. But in the culture of the Western world, and also of Africa and other places, our cultural expectations have been distorted away from this. In this section I am meeting the practical issue of how to envision men, men-as-they-are-today, not discussing generic theological points about pre-fall situations.)

Practical Ideas

But how? New View might provide a 'Green Gospel' (GG). Two draft practical tools are suggested: These have yet to be worked out properly, but we could develop a training scheme in which the elements of the gospel are summarised in a list of sentences, just as Campus Crusade (CC) and Evangelism Explosion (EE) did some years ago.

This page, URL= '', is offered to God as on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 8 June 2008. Last updated: 24 July 2008 all evang pages rationalised: brought evang, evang.key here; added section on men. 5 March 2017 links corrected, new .end, .nav.