Evangelism

Terry Mattingly remembers Robert Webber. He begins,

During one of his early visits to London, Billy Graham was confronted by an Anglican leader who causally dismissed the entire crusade effort.

“Young man,” said the priest, “I do not approve of your style of evangelism.”

“I’m sure that what I’m doing isn’t perfect,” replied Graham. “But I like the evangelism that I’m doing better than the evangelism that you’re not doing.” …

“The problem with evangelism is that churches either do it or they don’t,” Webber told me, before a Denver speaking engagement in the mid-1980s. This was about the time that he began to emerge as an influence on progressive evangelicals, in large part because of his strategic years teaching at Wheaton College, home of the Billy Graham Center.

“I think every church that is alive has within it people who are gifted at evangelism,” he added. “If a church doesn’t have these people, then there are some tough questions that have to be asked. … You may be dealing with a dead church.” …

Webber was convinced that far too many liturgical Christians — Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and the Orthodox — have abandoned the task of evangelizing nonbelievers and those estranged from the faith. In their rush to reject what Webber called a “Lone Ranger,” “hit-and-run” style of evangelism, the leaders of these flocks have veered into apathy and silence.

There is also a chance that many of them no longer want to discuss sin, evil, repentance, grace, death and, horror of horrors, heaven and hell. These eternal concerns are not going to fade away, said Webber.

2 thoughts on “Evangelism

  1. This is a very important issue. Catholics don’t usually “witness.” From the 19th Century until the mid 20th there was a great spread of Catholicism concurrent with colonialism. The end of colonialism and Vat. II changed attitudes of missionaries in the developing world. This ended much of the chauvinism and arrogance but led to missionaries adopting Marxist theory. Back to the present; how will Catholics deal with Evangelism?

  2. Benedict XVI is in Brazil, he has been remarking on how the Catholic church is loosing people to sects and other denominations. Is it the structure? Is it the point that evangelism is associated with preaching which happens to be reserved to ordained ministry in the Catholic Church? Just asking.

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