THERE is a well-known story of a stranger who stopped to ask a local the way to a certain place. The local replied, “Well, if I were going there, I wouldn’t start from here!” When we, as Christians, seek to share the message of the Gospel in our post-Christian culture, could it be that we are starting at the wrong place?
There is widespread ignorance of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. No longer can we assume that the people we seek to reach have any concept of the meaning of sin and salvation. Add to this the increasingly vocal message of the “new atheists” who insist that evolution has removed the need to believe in God, and we begin to understand why we so often seem to be sowing seed on stony ground. The opponents of Christianity have chosen to use evolution as their main weapon, and have convinced multitudes of uninformed people that Christianity is no longer believable. Evangelists, especially those who work on the streets, tell us that evolution is the main stumbling-block to faith. So why do so many Christians continue to insist that the creation-evolution issue is not relevant to evangelism? Jesus taught that we should love God with our minds as well as our hearts, so why do we so often shy away from this challenge, and refuse to defend our faith as something that is logical and intellectually satisfying?
THE RIGHT STARTING-POINT
When Paul preached in Athens, he recognised that the Greeks, unlike Jews, lacked knowledge of the Old Testament. Grieved at the Athenians’ idolatry, and having noticed an altar inscribed “To an unknown god,” Paul used this as a starting-point to tell them that “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” (Acts 17: 24). Then, having got the attention of the people, Paul went on to tell them that they were answerable to this God, who had revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, and through whom He would judge the world.
So often, our evangelism begins with an appeal to people to repent of their sin and believe in Jesus Christ. Maybe this is the wrong starting-point. If many have been persuaded that the “discoveries of science” mean that belief in the Bible is no longer credible, why do we expect them to listen? Of course, conviction of sin is a work of the Holy Spirit, but surely we have a duty to remove stumbling-blocks to faith? And it is undeniable that evolution is a huge stumbling-block to many. With more and more scientists doubting evolution, and a growing surge of convincing evidence against it, it is time to meet this challenge head-on. There are so many wonderful, good-quality resources now available — books, DVDs, the internet — that there is no excuse for opting out of this challenge.
AIDS TO EVANGELISM
Part of the ministry of organisations like CRT is to equip Christians to defend their faith, and give them confidence to share it. We fail to understand why, with the plethora of aids to evangelism now available, so many won’t even take the trouble to look at resources which tackle the main arguments used by the enemies of the Gospel. And they wonder why people are not responding!