“Philosophers,” wrote Karl Marx, “have only interpreted the world differently; the point is, however, to change it.”
However unlike they are in fundamental affirmations, the Christian Gospel and Communism are at this point in agreement. But the agreement goes little further. Distinctively, the Church proclaims the changed world as the consequence of changed men. Reflective man produces new philosophies; it is only regenerate man who holds the clue to a society that is really new.
It is this conviction, grounded in the Good News that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself,” that makes evangelism immensely more than a theory or a slogan. It brings it into focus as a necessity. At this point, however, the question rises: How do we go forward with an evangelism—a widening of the circle of faith so that it includes more and more people who have transformingly trusted Christ as Savior—that is continuous, contagious, and compelling?
Under the title, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Asbury Seminary’s Professor of Evangelism, Robert E. Coleman, has presented a set of principles and sketched a scheme which, studied carefully, will go far toward rescuing the concept of evangelism from the realm of the “special” and the “occasional,” and anchoring where it belongs in the essential, on-going life and witness of the congregation.
There is nothing in the following pages that belittles what the Spirit of God has done, and continues to do, through the colossal, concerted, temporary undertakings of such evangelistic specialists as Moody, Sunday, or Graham. On the other hand, there is much that beckons us to the disciple-winning that works through small groups and builds toward congregational witness-all of it calculated to demonstrate the connection between the Gospel to which we bear testimony and the life which that Gospel enables us to live.
The author’s work, concentrating as it does on the pattern we see in our Lord and His disciples, is saturated with Scripture. His style is unembellished. It is plain. It is direct. It unfailingly echoes the transparent sincerity of the mind that has thought long on the theme with which it is at grips.
Only this morning I heard a radio speaker make the observation that, in most matters, we move in either of two directions: from words to things, or from things to words. That is to say, if we do not make the journey from theories and ideals to concrete situations, then the concrete situations will be lost under a smog of words. From the latter peril I believe this earnest volume can help deliver us. It is therefore a pleasure to commend it.
Paul Stromberg Rees