Monday, March 05, 2007

Convincing Evangelism

Dallas Willard has as one of his final chapters in The Great Omission one entitled "Jesus the Logician." Not a common concept of Jesus, especially in our world. People both inside and outside the church have a hard time seeing Jesus as a logical thinker on par with Aristotle or Kant. Those outside the church see the caricatures like the "angry Christians" of recent posts at Texas In Africa, or mine below and think of Jesus as a simpleton or buffoon. But those inside the church walls in recent years have been somewhat anti-intellectual in seeing Jesus as a thinker or philosopher as well.

Jesus didn't develop his logic in a theoretical or philosphical sense like an Aristotle; rather his logic was at the deeper more practical level. It was geared toward encouraging life-changing "eureka" moments in his listeners. "That is, he does not try to make everything so explicit that the conclusion is forced down the throat of the hearer. Rather, he presents matters in such a way that those who wish to know can find their way to, can come to, the appropriate conclusion as something they have discovered" (The Great Omission, p. 183).

Perhaps this affects my big issues with Evangelical evangelism and the modern church's strategies for sharing the gospel--it tries to logically argue to force the right conclusion. It focuses on the point-of-sale transaction. We try to lead people in our discussions, instead of allowing the person and the Spirit to connect in their own "eureka" moment. Honestly, I think that people come to faith in Jesus in spite of us much of the time.

Jesus never took this approach. He never shied away from conflict or truth, but he spoke in such a way that made space for people to have their own "eureka" moments.

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

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