A Review Article
Evangelism is confronting the Church with a renewed and stirring challenge. Both its nature and its methods of promotion are receiving increased attention. There is a deepening conviction that responsibility for evangelism is really the task of the Church rather than of itinerant and independent evangelists. There is present dissatisfaction over both content and methods. Some feel strongly that present-day evangelism presents a truncated Gospel that is unrelated to pressing social problems.
Indicative of the critical mood is a recent book by Charles B. Templeton, Evangelism for Tomorrow (Harper, 1957, $3.00). Its author has had wide experience in the field of evangelism and writes from firsthand experience.
Fosdick Versus Graham
Most evangelicals will be quite appalled by Dr. Templeton’s evaluation of the relative significance of Harry Emerson Fosdick and Billy Graham. He writes of Dr. Fosdick, “A strong case could be made for the assertion that the greatest evangelist of the past generation was Harry Emerson Fosdick.… There was an unmistakable evangelistic note at the heart of Fosdick’s sermons and real evangelistic passion. It may be that, though anything but typical of his predecessors, he will be seen to have been the outstanding evangelist of his day” (pp. 84–85). He “damns” Billy Graham with faint praise, adding that “Graham has a deficient understanding of the nature of sin, a strong tendency to present conversion as a transaction, a tendency to ally God with America in a common opposition to Communism, and a rather naive conviction that revival will resolve the world’s great issues. On the whole, his message typifies the strongly conservative, evangelical Protestant view, and though the majority of the ...1
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