Tuesday, November 07, 2006

willimon on the task of evangelism

I love this quote from Bishop Willimon where he describes how evangelism should be offering people in Christ an entirely new set of wants and an entirely different world. He suggests we've often lost the gospel in the name of evangelism. I'm really digging this book.
I heard a distinguished professor complain that "when the average Joe hears us preach, he sits there thinking, 'None of this really relates to my world.'" But evangelism is more than some limp attempt to relate to the world of the "average Joe." Evangelism is an assult, a rearrangement, a reconfiguration, a recreation of a world that would not be there had not Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and make disciples.

The way I read church history, some of the greatest theological mistakes made by the church have been made in the interest of evangelism. In so wanting to reach out to speak to the world, sometimes we fall in. We substitute worldly wisdom for gospel foolishness. We offer the world, in the name of the gospel, what the world wants before it is told by the gospel those wants worth wanting. We become a pale imitation of the world, a mirror reflection, a mode of life that is already available in the world, without bothering with the church. Therefore we must judge our prayer and praise theologically so that we might be confident that the God to whom we testify is the Christ who has given us something to say and to show to the world in the first place. (Pastor 244-245)

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