The Anomaly of Evangelism (Part 1)

‘The anomaly of evangelism? What in the world is that,’ one might ask?

Why would I connect the two words anomaly and evangelism?

Just recently, I was at a pastor’s meeting with leaders from different types of church backgrounds. The moderator-leader of the gathering led a discussion that revolved around evangelism. It was quite telling to hear the plethora of different responses concerning the nature of evangelism. Some of them quite good, some of them, at least I believe, quite unhelpful. Even from pastors.

In the time allotted, we were only ever able to discuss the barriers to evangelism. We never really got past that. But in all, it was odd as I considered all the varying responses given. And this was highlighted as I later discussed some of the answers with a friend of mine. But some of the thoughts, at least as I can best understand evangelism, seemed quite narrow and reductionistic in regards to what evangelism is actually about.

So I am wondering if we have some kind of anomaly here, some kind of misunderstanding of what evangelism is all about.

I suppose an anomaly actually deviates from the norm, at least as many definitions suggest. And so some might argue for a particular view of evangelism that seems part of the norm, at least part of the inherited norm handed down to us from our evangelical fathers. But I believe that, to simply view evangelism through such a particular lens, is in fact an anomaly itself. I am certain that what many people proclaim as the gospel and subsequently seal with the evangelism-stamp-of-approval is not really central to what evangelism is all about.

I believe that before we could ever explain what evangelism is, we need to first know what the evangel, or good news/gospel, is? I think we would all agree on the importance of the gospel, whatever it is. But do we actually know what the gospel is so that we can proclaim it?

And that’s what I want to do over the coming posts, however many come forth. I want to look at what the good news is. What was the good news Jesus proclaimed? What was the good news Paul proclaimed? Were they different? And what does this mean with regards to evangelism? What is an evangelist? And perhaps there are other questions that will arise.

So let me start out by asking: What is the gospel?

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9 thoughts on “The Anomaly of Evangelism (Part 1)

  1. “So let me start out by asking: What is the gospel?”

    Hah! Good question. One of my lecturers asked this in our first week. The traditional evangelical answer usually involves something about accepting Jesus as your personal saviour for the remission of your sins. But that is not how the Gospel is defined in the NT.

    The Gospel is the good news of the Kingdom of God (Luke 8:1, 9:2, 11, 60) and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12).

  2. The “good news” that Jesus shared was that His kingdom (the ‘church’) was at hand — ready to start when His work was completed. Paul’s good news was similar: that the kingdom of God HAD arrived, was present and operating, and that it was started and led by Christ – a living Christ.

    The founding of the kingdom of God on earth (and also in heaven) is the good news. Christ is the author and sustainer of His kingdom, the cross being the vehicle upon which the age of His kingdom was ushered in. Sin is a footnote; it is no more; it is finished. We are now free to enter His kingdom simply by believing the truths about Him (birth, life, death, resurrection) and choosing to abandon our own life and allowing His life to be lived through us, both for salvation/justification (once) and sanctification (ongoing).

    If that’s not good news, I don’t know what is. 🙂

  3. Yes, His rule existed, but not on earth. Earth was dominated by sin and the devil until the work of redemption occured. God had his “people”, but not a “kingdom”. Israel was ruled by MEN, against God’s wishes. But now Christ rules in men’s hearts, as God always desired, and eventually He will rule as a physical king. But that kingdom started when Christ rose again to stand at the right hand of God. This is why He repeatedly told the people that the kingdom of God was at hand and what the kingdom of God would look like — sinless — not because people would be without sin, but because His sacrifice would cover it all. THAT’S the good news — the kingdom of God is here, and you can be a part of it.

  4. Ken –

    I agree that, in Christ, the greatest expression and reality of the kingdom has arrived, continued in the powerful work of the Spirit. But reading the OT leaves me very much to believe He has always been reigning, i.e., Ps 145:13.

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