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Discussion Starter: An Illinois circuit court recently ruled that a Baptist group could legally distribute anti-Catholic leaflets at a Catholic festival. Meanwhile the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said that it was unconstitutional to restrict passing out Christian tracts at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. So now that such festival evangelism is legal, the question is: Is it effective?

"The practice of proselytizing in public is as old as the New Testament. Jesus preached at public gatherings during feast times, and Paul preached openly in the marketplaces. So there seems to be a very old precedent for this kind of activity. Furthermore, Paul recognized that some preached Christ with good motives and some with bad; nevertheless, he was pleased Christ was preached at all. Perhaps here the question becomes more complex and must be considered along two different lines at least. The fact that people can preach Christ in an unsavory way would require that those participating in marketplace evangelism monitor themselves to prevent abuses. Plato noted in The Laws that 'an abuse does not nullify a proper use.' If we judged any segment of society by its worst examples, who could stand? Nevertheless, to legislate against the bad uses in a way that prevents valid uses is itself an abuse."

"Most Muslims and most people, the statistics show, come to the Lord through a process of God dealing with them over a period of time. Very seldom does anybody do the classic 'somebody's a non-Christian who has never heard the gospel and you give them a tract, they read it, and at the end get saved.' That's very rare. But if you use the tract to open up a conversation with someone, you can find out their felt needs; you can meet ...

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Should We Still Give Out Tracts?
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August 2011

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