Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Silent Evangelism"?

In writing yesterday's post about keeping Christ in Christmas, I came across this web site run by a chapter of the Knights of Columbus (a Roman Catholic paramilitary organization :-O) promoting the sale of the magnets I've seen so many of locally the past few weeks. Apparently this KC chapter sells these magnets in bulk to be used in local church fund raising efforts. And here's what their website says about the program:
Now, I'm not going to comment on the propriety of this kind of fund raising approach, or even on the contradiction in terms that "evangelization" (is that even a real word?) and "Roman Catholic" are. There are so many ways that this whole thing is just...wrong. But what I am going to comment on is the notion of there being such a category as "silent evangelism."

Is there such a thing in the Biblical model of evangelism? Do we see any evidence in the Scriptures of the silent communication of the evangel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Is that even possible? Methinks not. The Gospel is always seen in the Biblical narrative as something to be communicated with words, as a propositional truth to be proclaimed and witnessed to.

Of course, it's really popular these days in evangelical circles to talk about "witnessing with our lives." A form of silent evangelism, so to speak. Of course, we are called by Christ as His people to live holy lives, to conduct ourselves in a manner that honors and glorifies Him. A life marked by sin and unholiness makes our claims of knowing Christ ring hollow to a skeptical world. But has a life lived in silent godliness capable of communicating the truth of the Gospel of Christ? It can certainly be a testimony to the reality of salvation, of the changed life true faith brings. But apart from a clear testimony of the reason behind that changed life, namely the new birth that comes through God's grace, there's no possibility of salvation. No one will ever be saved from their sin apart from an understanding of the essential truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And these truths must be communicated, testified to, proclaimed.

In fact, the whole idea of "witnessing with our life" seems to miss the entire point of the Gospel. Because the Gospel is not a life-improvement strategy, or a self-help program, or a means to live a more moral life. But if all we ever "witness" with is our lives, that's the message we give. That's what people will be drawn to. A life well lived by faith in the Son of God may be something God uses in His pursuit of sinners. But it is only the truth of the Gospel, communicated in words and not in silence, that will save anyone.

1 comment:

. said...

Agreed. The facts of the Gospel cannot be observed in a life lived as we might imagine it should be. The observer of an obedient Christian are not going to grasp the intellectual notions of:
1) their sinful nature
2) that they are seperated from God because of that sin
3) their sin needs to be dealth with on an eternal basis
4) that upon repentence and commitment, they can be positionally in Christ
5) and that position leads to God "reckoning" them jusitified through Crist's death, burrial and resurrection.
Hummmmm, don't think you can communicate that without words.