Billy Graham Center
World Congress on Evangelism, 1966
The materials from the World Congress on Evangelism are intended solely for the edification of visitors to our web site and cannot be copied or otherwise reused without permission.


The Obstacles to Evangelism in the World
by Harold B. Kuhn

Opposition to forthright and vigorous evangelism is as old as the proclamation of the Christian Gospel. As in Apostolic times, so today “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” Realism requires that the Church Evangelical recognize man’s built-in resistance to forthright assertion of the demands of Jesus Christ to be a constant element in the sinful human situation. Its presence should not surprise us, and the sensitive evangelist should be prepared to cope lovingly with its manifestations.

Realism demands keen awareness, also, that at given periods in history the factors in human experience which resist proclamation of the Good News frequently gain additional force and supporting rationale by appearing in some new form. We propose to identify and discuss those elements and movements that are especially and typically characteristic of our day, and that constitute a special obstacle to projecting the message of Christus Redemptor upon modern society. While most, if not all, of these elements are not entirely new, they seem to exert their force in new and formidable combinations as we move into the last third of the twentieth century. They find vigorous implementation in the dynamics of our time—a time whose developments we witness, not with fear, but with a sense of challenge and a spirit of faith. This issue should and must be considered in terms of a ‘realism of faith.’

(1) Nationalism as an Obstacle

The Christian finds himself perplexed by some of the problems posed by patriotism and especially by nationalism, its distorted syndrome. Love of locale (and with it, love of country) are a part of God’s endowment to man, and are significant factors in shaping man’s everyday life. Like all of God’s Ordnungen, they are open to distortion, and to implementation that may be humanly disadvantageous, even disastrous. It may be noted, parenthetically, that a part of the paradox of human freedom is that God permits the Ordnungen through which he is at work providentially in the world to be distorted by human error and human sin.

In its extreme form, nationalism is a distortion of that normal love of country, and normal pride which men and women take in their country’s group achievement. It is foolish to denounce nationalism without trying to understand its dynamics. In a very real sense, today’s growing nationalism is a reaction to the older colonialism by peoples who seek “a place in the sun.” It takes no political radicalism to suggest that God’s providence may be working in those movements whereby peoples historically disadvantaged by cultural, economic or religious factors try to share the freedoms and comforts achieved by the more prosperous societies.

There are movements, for example, as expressions of God’s providential order in the world, through which men and women heretofore limited by predetermined social structures are demanding and receiving the opportunity to participate creatively in a far broader society. Likewise Christians can applaud movements that erase the feeling of fatalism from the underprivileged and that recognize such infusion or restoration of a sense of self-worth as “the Lord’s doing.” At the same time, the rising tide of human aspiration may adopt shortsighted methods, and thereby thwart its own best interests. Seen in some contexts at least, nationalism may be one of these myopic techniques.

Nationalism may appeal too largely to past grievances; by holding these so prominently in memory it may jeopardize their proper evaluation and thus encourage an unwarranted and unfortunate clinging to obsolete cultural patterns that is to say, people under the pressures of nationalism may adhere to outmoded and deleterious social forms simply as a symbol of resistance to something else that is disliked or not wanted. Nationalistic feeling may thus result in perpetuating institutions and practices that are actually harmful to a given society, and may implement resistance to forces that would be beneficial, that would offer new horizons and fresh opportunities. This resistance and rejection may stem from lack of understanding or perspective. Sometimes, for example, even when the contributions of Christian missions are acknowledged and used, a proud people may reject their source on the ground that they represent something alien and foreign.

Such nationalism may identify the presence of an evangelistic agency or movement with colonialism, and as a reflex, advocate policies that are emotionally charged and that offer no positive and far—reaching benefits. Strong nationalistic feeling may lead, for example, to denial of visas to evangelistic missionaries, perhaps on the ground that “they would duplicate the work that nationals can do.” Where this is an understandable attitude, it may overlook the fact that the national may desperately need and want outside assistance and sympathetic support.

The Christian Church will need to live for a long time with the accumulated results of exploitive practices and condescendingly humiliating attitudes that secular agencies of the Western nations have exercised during the past two or three centuries among the underdeveloped peoples of the world. Or, to turn for a moment to the Church overseas, it may even be that in some places the paternalistic attitude of certain mission leaders has generated its own brand of reflex nationalism. In any case, no person interested in vital evangelism can afford to overlook or underestimate the dynamics of nationalism within the rising and aspiring nations. If nationalism contains elements that frustrate him, it may nonetheless also offer the fore-gleams of promise. Nationalism has a way of running its course, and better counsel often prevails after a period of fumbling national experimentation.

(2) Totalitarianism as an Obstacle

Viewed pragmatically the questions posed by totalitarian systems for Christian evangelism seem to resolve themselves into simple black and white terms: where totalitarian systems prevail, mission fields close and evangelism, of the public variety at least, ceases. The question comes immediately, however: should the Christian Church accept this pattern as a final and foregone conclusion? While it is difficult to project the ‘world of the future,’ yet there is reason to suspect that while they grope for viable political and social systems, many of the slowly developing lands will experiment with some form or other of totalitarian or quasi—totalitarian governmental forms. In some cases this fact may lead to temporarily closed mission areas. It is also possible, however, that the processes by which totalitarian systems modify themselves from within may so continue to work in some lands formerly closed to evangelism that opportunities for the Gospel present themselves sooner than we think. In other words, if, for example, citizens under dictatorships move increasingly toward stability and away from disruptive revolution, some of the developing lands now not open to public evangelism may in the foreseeable future become lands of promise for evangelistic endeavor. At the same time we must reconcile ourselves to the probability that some countries formerly regarded most suitable for missionary and evangelistic endeavor may not be capable of penetration for several decades.

Those of us who are vitally interested in evangelism are perplexed by the fact that, as a rule, churches in totalitarian lands cease to be prophetic in several important senses. First, they seldom speak with a prophetic voice, for example, concerning the corruption of their youth by doctrinaire anti- religious teaching. Second, they tend to develop a protective mentality——to remain as inconspicuous as possible lest they be drawn into conflict with official policy. As a consequence, evangelism tends to be eliminated altogether, or to be confined to groups in the church’s immediate orbit. In short, churches under totalitarian governments tend to become priestly, ritualistic and cloistered, and fall prey to more or less subtle forms of nationalisms

Today’s evangelistic church needs to be keenly alert to possible small opportunities in totalitarian lands. It must be recognized that some countries wholly closed to evangelistic endeavor five or ten years ago manifest a 1tcrack in the door for operation of a free—church form of evangelization. Openings need to be explored and potential opportunities seized——always with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. There must be no place in the mentality of men and women of faith for a theological fatalism that accepts as final the slamming of a door by revolutionary movements. Not despair, but cautious exploration, should be the mood of the Christian who seeks by all means to become all things to all men.” It is helpful to recall that originally Christianity was projected into a world that was under a sophisticated totalitarian system. No doubt St. Paul and the other Apostles, no less than the Fathers, felt frustrated and limited in many aspects of their work. But they never allowed forbidding external circumstances to paralyze them into inaction. Then as now, those who view things with eyes of faith see God working providentially also in human governmental structures, however imperfect as media they may seem for expressing God’s activity.

(3) Modern Materialism as an Obstacle

The charge of ‘materialism’ is frequently leveled indiscriminately and without discrimination against all who are concerned with the material and temporal aspects of human life and society. Some of the unstructured thinking on this question, in the West no less than in the East, has failed to remember that God is creator of the material order, and uses it to channel and accomplish both His providential redemptive purposes. To be thoroughly and characteristically Christian in perspective one must give proper recognition to the Divine ordination of the material structures of our world; one must see how the New Testament emphasizes the placement of Christians as stewards within them.

We readily grant that concern with the temporal and the material may very easily degenerate into a form of idolatry, into an absolutizing of visible finites. We recognize also that at this point certain thinkers tend rather uncritically to posit false antitheses, For example, it was once fashionable for representatives of Eastern cultures to say to the West, “You have refrigerators, but we have spiritual values.’ Obviously this is a radical oversimplification, for people of Eastern lands desire to participate in technological progress no less than do men and women of the West. Modern advertising has seen to that!

There is, of course, a legitimate place for recognizing and criticizing the wave of materialism that has swept over our world, that has gone hand in hand with the industrial revolution, and more recently with the technological revolution. It is an oversimplification to say that the factory——the assembly line if you wish——causes materialism. It is more correct to say that materialism is a distortion of something that is divinely implanted——a drive that impels man to greater heights of human comfort and human dignity. It must be acknowledged, after all, that while the advent of the machine placed heavy loads upon mankind at some points, it also relieved men of certain heavy and degrading burdens. No critique of current materialism is thoroughly penetrating unless it comes to grips with this fact.

The real heart of the matter is, of course, that the precise meaning of materialism is found in an outlook, an attitude toward life, which measures the meaning and goals of man’s life in terms of visible and tangible things, and which dogmatically casts aside all values which cannot be resolved into these terms or harnesses to the acquisition of goods. In other words, materialism may exist not only at the level of ideology, but may also become a total philosophy of life. At the ideological level, materialism may exist quite independent of the presence or absence of the actual symbols of material existence. The mere availability of material objects (although this very availability or non-availability may complicate the problem) is not what generates materialism as a Weltanschauung rather, it is a basic attitude toward the structures of the universe and toward the nature of human existence that determines this point of view. Our divine Lord had this in mind when He said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

It must be said here that while today’s materialism is often covert and unarticulated, it is at the same time constitutive. At the most obvious level, and in the closest meaning of the term, few persons will openly profess materialism. Even in Marxist lands, professed materialism is the articulate creed of the few. Wherever even the most superficial acknowledgment is given to doctrines of human worth and dignity, materialism becomes unpalatable. This reaction answers to something deep within man—something which we gratefully acknowledge has survived the Fall. However, while it is possible to disavow the materialist creed, it is possible at the same time to manifest its consequences and expressions to a disturbing degree. Such practical materialism, which uncritically measures all values in terms of visible and tangible things, can produce a climate of indifference which, in the long run, may be less responsive to the Christian Evangel than the climate of active resistance and articulate rejection that stems from avowed materialism. Certainly the latter is less difficult to recognize than the former; and certainly anyone who professes materialism as an overt creed is more self-conscious of his position, and therefore more susceptible to direct confrontation by the claims of the Living Christ.

We are simply saying that covert materialism may offer an oblique form of opposition to Christian evangelism that has far more frustrating aspects than does creedal and dogmatic materialism. Outspoken and articulate opposition is frequently less difficult to measure and to penetrate than is the mildly curious and bland type, which tends simply to bypass the claims of our Lord as irrelevant. A message that emphasizes the unseen and the eternal frequently appears quaintly antique and colorless to the materialist mentality which uncritically but persistently measures life in terms of visible achievement, in terms of acquiring the symbols of power and status. True Christian evangelism summons men and women to a vital commitment to the unseen - to a Person who in this life must be “seen with the eyes of faith.” It is tragic that a genial, practical form of materialism can decisively dismiss Christ and His claims with a shrug or smile no less than can the hard, dogmatic type.

It would be a grave error to suppose that today’s materialism is seen only in its attitude of commitment to tangible and marketable items. On the contrary, the materialism so evident in our affluent civilization is a way of thinking which stresses its own ‘invisibilities.’ These are frequently such factors as leisure, entertainment, modes of ‘escape.’ We would unhesitatingly call ‘materialistic’ those mental attitudes which, for example, make the mere attainment of retirement age a value, and which seek the earliest possible opportunity to withdraw from creative effort, in order to ‘enjoy life’ at the beaches and pass simply as spectators on the world scene.

For all its stress upon how things are to be secured, the spirit of modern materialism rejects the Christian view of work as something God-given, and returns to the ‘classical’ view which regards work as a necessary but unwelcome intruder into the life of man. As Carl F. H. Henry rightly observes, the materialistic mood of modern man tries to solve the qualitative problem posed by the Biblical mandate to work in narrow quantitative terms. The qualitative approach regards work as a stewardship, to be pursued under the recognition that some day the Lord of the Harvest will call the laborers to a reckoning. The quantitative approach tends to view and evaluate life in terms of how men and women are released from grinding toil in order to engage in a narrowly-construed ‘pursuit of happiness.’

Certainly no Christian can deny that there are forms of work and exploitation by ruthless employers which violate human dignity and reduce men and women to something less than persons. The evangelical cannot reflect the heart of his Lord without not only sympathizing with those thus bound, but also without identifying himself as a Christian citizen with movements that offer genuine promise of remedying social and economic wrongs. It must be remembered, however, that if exploitation by an unjust employer has served to dull the worker’s ears to the Good News, the tyranny of uncreative leisure is scarcely much better for opening the heart to the Lord’s “Follow me.”

As a member of the Christian task force, the evangelist must therefore bear in mind that today’s materialism has a two-pronged thrust: on the one hand, it encourages and underwrites high (and frequently inordinate and unrealistic) forms of temporal aspiration; on the other, it tends to make man a prisoner of his own leisure, of his own quest for entertainment, of his own pursuit of spectatorism, of those ‘escapes’ now sought the world over. The result in either case is a shrinking of what is meaningful in human life – of what gives relevance to life. The most vicious aspect of the tyranny of materialism is its ability to produce merely earth-bound aspirations, to produce a climate in which the transcendent and other-worldly seems strangely antiquated and dull. It is against this kind of materialism that Christian evangelism must do its work, and into the mood created by materialism that evangelism must project its message.

For all the contemporary stress upon individuality and individualism, current materialism nevertheless tends to be anti-individualistic in a particularly invidious sense, in that it affords a wider variety of ways to evade moral accountability. There are trends in our materialistically oriented society which erode the sense of individual self-reliance and foster ‘great expectation’ quite apart from either personal endeavor or personal worth. Without assuming a spirit of uncritical and wholesale opposition to programs that try to increase people’s security within a technological society, the Christian must nonetheless recognize that the welfare state, by assuming responsibility for ever more areas of human life that were once considered the legitimate realm for exercising human initiative, undermines the sense of individual responsibility.

This fact has inevitable repercussions in the area of personal evangelism, where proclamation of the Good News is considered to have a basically individual appeal, and in which the Proclaimer, through the power of the Divine Spirit, seeks to bring about the confession that “against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight!” (Psalm 51:4). The calls of our Lord are, after all, intensely and persistently personal and individual, A constituent part of evangelism is the isolating of an individual from the crowd, and confronting him with the issues between him and his Maker. Loss of the sense of individual responsibility, chargeable in significant part to a materialistic outlook, tends to cause modern man to relegate high ethical and spiritual decisions to the limbo of “matters that are of concern only to the aged, the infirm and the life-evaders.” This mood is a powerful enemy to the projections of the Christian Evangel.

In summary, let it be said that materialism, insofar as it objectifies the aspirations of long disadvantaged groups, is a factor with which we must reckon permanently, until there come “a new heavens and a new earth.” Nor will it suffice for the Evangelical to take refuge in any simple and acquiescent misapplication of the Scripture, “the poor ye have always with you.” There are, obviously, grave and subtle perils in the contemporary and unstructured demand for ‘involvement,’ which has come to mean the identification of great ecclesiastical structures with some specific program of social and economic betterment. At the same time, there are equally grave perils implicit in the danger of restricting the cutting edge of the Christian Evangel solely to the matter of personal redemption, and, of neglecting the manner in which the Christian mandate includes bringing the claims of the Sovereign Lord of all life to bear upon the structures of society.

But at whatever level materialism asserts its claims within the movements and structures of modern life, it will pose both problems and temptations to the evangelical Christian. Nothing will be gained by an indiscriminate attack upon technology, or by any proposal for some artificial simplification of today’s life. Clarification of vision and Christianization of our value judgments: Yes. Return to an allegedly simply agrarian form of existence: No. Evangelism must take a realistic measure of its opponents: It must seek to examine and to evaluate as highly determinative the issue of man’s involvement with materialism in an increasingly complex society. The emphasis must be, not upon a mere denunciation of trends, but upon skillful application of the weapons at our disposal to the task of breaching the walls which material-minded modern man has entrenched himself - the walls of exclusive preoccupation with one-level existence, of cultural and ethical relativity, and of collectivistic evasion of responsibility and ethical accountability.

(4) Today’s Intellectual Climate as an Obstacle

The Christian cannot dismiss current intellectual trends with a sweep of the hand as being either basically friendly or unqualifiedly hostile to the proclamation of the Christian message. At the same time, it is unrealistic to fail to recognize that the general Zeitgeist of the 1960’s tends to operate in a manner that is anti-evangelistic in several important senses. A brand of intellectualism is abroad which associated itself all too easily with a cavalier attitude toward public, mass evangelism. In some allegedly sophisticated circles, it is regarded as ‘in’ to take the stance of downgrading evangelistic institutions. It is to this mood that dramatist Bertolt Brecht appealed in his Heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe (St. Joan of the Stockyards) with its brutal caricature of the Salvation Army.

With predictable and almost boring frequency one hears the typical ‘liberal’ verdict: “the day of mass evangelism is past.” This sentiment had so filtered into the thinking of non-religious circles, that until events of the past two decades called it into serious question it was accepted almost as an axiom. Happily God in His providence has brought movements to the fore which have challenged this assumption in wide and significant circles.

Too, scientific naturalism - enjoying tremendous prestige - has been an articulate foe of the major premises underlying Christian evangelism, The honest Christian cannot but admit a certain ambivalence in his attitude toward contemporary naturalistic science. On the one hand, science has discovered techniques and released procedural resources that have revolutionized his way of living and greatly increased his comforts. On the other hand, the overall impact of naturalistic science upon the intellectual and spiritual climate of our age has meant the undercutting of many factors that are indispensable to vigorous propagation of the Good News. It tends to: reduce the force of the Gospel’s appeal to the individual sinner to turn to the supernatural. It tends to crowd out from modern man’s perspective any compelling glimpse of the life to come, and to exclude from his concern those issues which would make the pursuit of that future life an urgent issue.

Again, the intellectual climate of the day frequently caricatures Christianity’s role in the world. This may be done at a number of levels, The modern secularist spirit abstracts the unfortunate elements in the total impact of Christianity in history - these have indeed existed and have done their work - and makes them a gauge for evaluating Christianity as a whole. Or, modern intellectualism may implement its objections to the Christian revelation by appealing to the alleged claim by other religious systems to exclusive authority. Those who argue thus overlook the fact that what is genuine inevitably calls forth its counterfeit; moreover, it is one thing to lay claim to an exclusive authority, and quite another to proclaim a Person who has come into man’s daily life, and who in His own person has come to grips with life’s most persistent and staggering problem and has emerged triumphant from the conflict.

Realism demands the recognition also that today’s intellectual climate is shaped by a hedonistic spirit, a spirit that regards pleasure (often understood very superficially) as the highest good. This spirit is articulated in life philosophies that parade as ‘new’; adherence to them, accordingly, whether in theory or in practice, is regarded as ‘in’ and thus culturally acceptable. Among these none has greater appeal it seems than the so—called ‘new morality.’ Regrettably some theologians, seeking to be avant garde, are lending the support of their scholarship and reputation to the so—called ‘situational ethic,’ which ranges itself against all forms of principal morality, and insists that every behavioral situation is unique and sui generis, and should therefore be met, not by any appeal to principles or revealed mandates, but by applying an unstructured form of agape, which allegedly is sufficient, even in volatile and emotionally-charged situations, to tell persons what to do.

We do not intend to give a detailed critique here of this system. It must be said, however, that it caricatures the ethical demands of the Christian Evangel, and leaves the inexperienced person with the overwhelming task of navigating the seas of a precariously balanced moral world without chart or compass. Moreover, its net result is the weakening of the sense of moral obligation to which the Christian evangelistic message addresses itself. When the ethical norm is rendered nebulous, when the individual himself becomes the ultimate ‘source of ethical judgment, it is no wonder that a person’s awareness of God’s claims upon him is weakened and diluted.

A parallel trend is that precipitated by certain superficial psychological systems which seem determined to undercut man’s understanding of the problems of sin and guilt. Accounting for human behavior on the basis of environmental pressures upon “normal and neutral response-patterns,” they reduce or eliminate the sense of personal responsibility for those types of behavior which Christianity considers sinful. In many intellectual circles it is fashionable to insist upon a radical reappraisal of all that has historically been called ‘sin’ or ‘sinful’ and to do so within a context that tries to cope with what are termed ‘feelings of guilt’ rather than to point men and women to Him who gave Himself to destroy sin and to lift the crushing burden of man’s guilt through genuine forgiveness.

The implications of this for Christian evangelism are evident enough. Projection of the claims of the Lord Christ, in terms of the message which by the help of the Holy Spirit seeks to precipitate a sense of guilt in keeping with the realities of man’s sin-predicament, and to produce Evangelical repentance, must face the fact in today’s intellectual climate of sophisticated and highly articulated ideological foes. False intellectualism unceasingly insists that man is somehow ‘captain of his soul’ and haughtily suggests that to press upon him the claims of supernatural assistance is to downgrade him. This spirit creates a formidable barrier in appealing to the Gospel to meet man’s distressed and helpless plight, and his need for supernatural rescue. St. Paul may have referred to just such elements in the intellectual climate of his day when he reminded the Church at Ephesus (and the Church of our day with them) that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

(5) Obstacles Created by the Influence of Alien Elements Impinging Upon the Church

To a degree sometimes unrecognized, the Church finds that the thought of both her members and her leaders is subtly shaped by outside forces which are uncongenial, at times even hostile, to her evangelistic thrust. Interaction between the thinking of the Christian and the thought—climate of his world is inevitable. It is likewise to be noted that the mid-twentieth century Church has been singularly unaware of the massive, if glacial, incursion of paganism into the contemporary world, Far too long, multitudes of Christians have assumed a sort of ‘inverted Constantinianism’ in this respect – inverted in that the Church has not assumed responsibility for the thought modes of the world, but instead has tended to assume the world to be essentially Christian is its ideology.

It is not easy for an organization or for individuals to be keenly aware of the essentially alien quality of much of the surrounding world-climate, on the one hand, and, on the other, to operate affirmatively and creatively within that climate. A certain peril besets anyone who does indeed possess an awareness of the crucial and crisis nature of the Christian’s position in an alien thought—world, a peril, namely, of assuming defensive attitudes that will alienate the non—Christian, A greater danger, however, seems to lie in uncritically accepting the ideals and norms of the world and in doing so becoming their prisoner. To be specific, it is possible for well—meaning Christians to become immersed in the materialistic Weltanschauung to a degree which they do not realize, an experience which leaves them really unimpressed with the urgent claims of the Christian Evangel, with its strong insistence upon the reality of the unseen. After all, materialism is materialism whether it creeps or gallops!

Further, the Church too often finds her self-image, the vision of her mission, and the understanding of her destiny to be subtly shaped by the essentially pagan nature of her environment. After all, it is not pleasant to realize and acknowledge that the civilization of the so—called Christian West has been erected upon principles which very largely omit God from their reckoning. But it is this that lies at the heart of paganism; and seen in this light, our culture can scarcely be judged in any other terms. In such a situation only a prophetic Church can retain her ‘vision glorious’ and her ‘hope eternal’; without these, her evangelistic task inevitably loses meaning and dynamic.

Moreover, the Church needs always to be aware of the peril that she may be paralyzed into inaction by the sheer weight of the forces ranged against her, The statistical trends of the day are not encouraging, for it is evident that growth in world population is greatest in those areas where the Christian witness, so far as one can see, is the weakest; nor has missionary endeavor by any reckoning been able to keep pace with the population increase, Perhaps here the Church needs to listen to those whose world vision entitles them to speak, and who say that never has there been a time when so many persons from “every nation, kindred and tongue” lift their voices in a sincere “Our Father.” At the same time, the vast forces ranged against the Christian Gospel and the Christian Church may cut the nerve of evangelistic endeavor, unless they are counterbalanced by a strong assurance that it is “the Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.

The foregoing obstacles suggest the imperative need for a renewed spirit of discernment, no less than a spirit of dedication, by the Church -- a renewal which takes realistic account of the alien and paganizing forces ranged against her, and which at every level and front threaten to penetrate her own thinking. The Church needs to become acutely aware that the creeping paganism of the time bears no friendship for the essential facts that underlie aggressive evangelism, such as; the universal sinfulness and consequent lostness of men apart from Christ the Redeemer, the imperatives of repentance and faith in Him, the certainty of a final day of reckoning, and the overwhelming sterility of life lived apart from the living Christ. Insofar as the world impinges upon the thinking of the Church, to that degree the presence of built—in opposition to the Evangel at these levels constitutes a potentially hostile base of operation against a vital evangelism, especially if this opposition conceals its objectives by subtle invasion of the intellect.

* * * * * *

This constellation of obstacles to Evangelism in the world and in the intellectual climate of the world points up several imperative needs within the Church as she faces her task of proclaiming the Gospel. There is need for a renewal of vision. There is need for a realistic assessment of the magnitude and organization of the forces ranged against her. There is need for a renewed appraisal of her mandate to world evangelism in terms of her ‘marching orders,’ paralleled by a realistic reassessment of the inner dynamic of her message.

Christian realism will dictate an awareness that the crucial and decisive phases of the Church’s struggle cannot be won by any vast holding-operation, however well this might be planned and articulated. This struggle is a conflict that can be met only by a vigorous and affirmative thrust of the Evangel into the age. For such a thrust, our age must have a highly skillful and deeply discerning Evangelistic Task Force.

Return to BGC Archives Home Page

Last Revised: 11/1/06
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2006