Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Witness vs demonstration

Further to my earlier post, I have to comment on one aspect of one of the talks from last year's Vineyard Leaders Conference (UK) that I've been listening to. The rather uninspiringly titled "The reformation today: Theology 2" (link to mp3) is one of the best and most challenging talks I've heard in a long time. Highly recommended, even if the audio quality is a bit lacking.

One of the points made in the talk was that when Jesus sent out his disciples (Matt 10, Mark 6, Luke 9) to preach, his instructions were simple:
  1. Preach the simple message "the Kingdom of Heaven is near"
  2. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, drive out demons
  3. If anyone is unwelcoming, simply move on to the next place
At no point in there is the instruction to debate non-believers, or attempt to convince anyone of anything - if people don't want to hear, just move on, leave them alone, someone else will want to hear.

How come nobody seems to view evangelism in those terms today? Some folk seem to go out of their way to try and persuade those who aren't interested about the reality of the gospel.

Oh, hang on, the problem with the 'proclaim and demonstrate' model of witness is that (for the most part) we don't seem to be willing or able to do the 'heal the sick' bit these days. Or rather, it is easier to try to engage with non-believers on an intellectual level, because if they don't believe this is due to some fault in their perception of reality. Whereas if we tried to heal people and nothing happened then it would be our lack of faith, our fault.

Hmmm. Maybe we should be more about demonstration than debate.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words” as St Francis of Assisi once supposedly said.

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