A Field Guide to Evangelism (2/10)
Sharing the gospel with skeptics is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. It is a risky enterprise, and the greatest risks involve the apologist’s own soul. That’s why C.S. Lewis, in the midst of his WWII evangelistic endeavors, warned youth leaders of the need to walk circumspectly when operating on the front lines of apologetic activity: That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality — from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself. That also is why we need one another’s continual help.
In addition to risking public reputation, and the real possibility of spiritual fatigue, the apologist will also be forced to come face-to-face with his true convictions. The apologist’s views will be laughed at, and his commitments scorned. Unless the evangelist to skeptics is adequately rooted and established in his convictions, there will be temptation to dilute beliefs in order to earn credibility.
A great deal of these temptations stem from a lack of confidence in the gospel and a misunderstanding of the nature of ministry to skeptics. Many think evangelism aimed at this demographic is limited to apologetics, a defense of the faith. This notion is too narrow, though. Evangelism is not merely negative and reactive.
Seeing evangelism as negative and reactive can lead to a passive witness instead of an intentional and positive assertion of the truth. That’s why evangelism in any setting should include both an affirmation of what the gospel is as well as a defense against objections and misunderstandings. Without a balanced approach, the apologist will be tempted to abdicate certain biblical foundations for the sake of establishing neutral ground.
So what is the best way to share the gospel with skeptics? What is the best form of apologetics? Those familiar with the nuances of apologetic approaches will know that there is no shortage of controversy regarding which form is the most biblical, so I don’t intend to answer these questions for you in this brief chapter. Instead, I’d suggest that you consider a book like Steve Cowan’s Five Views on Apologetics to inform, shape and refine your own convictions. What I would like to offer are seven imperatives, or broad categories, for sharing the gospel with skeptics. These are parameters to keep your gospel witness on track without falling into compromise.
The content is taken from chapter nine of the SBTS Field Guide to Evangelism available in print or as an eBook here.