The Christian Is Witness

The Witness: Message, Method, Motivation, by Urie A. Bender (Herald, 1965, 159 pp., $3), is reviewed by Herman J. Ridder, president, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan.

Although he makes no reference to it, D. T. Niles’s famous definition of witness fits Bender’s description: “Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread.”

Because he sees the Christian as a witness whether or not he wants to be one, the author begins his treatment with some of the key hindrances to witnessing. The reader sees himself implicated in a variety of ways. The hindrances are real.

Describing witness, Bender says: “To witness is to report; to present the evidence growing out of personal experience. That is all” (p. 54). “Every aspect of personality expressed outwardly in any form projects an image and carries a message” (p. 65). Or again, “Witnessing is being oneself before others, the new self in Christ Jesus …” (p. 66). And this is the burden of his presentation throughout the book. He is anxious to convey the impression that witness is not some special activity engaged in under certain structured conditions but is rather the natural expression of the Christian in any kind of situation.

Bender has his eyes open to the world. He sincerely wants to let the world “write the agenda” as the Church seeks to relate the Gospel of Christ to the world’s need. He sees witness as what it indeed is: hard, exacting labor. One sometimes tires of the approach that suggests that evangelism can be “made easy.” There are no easy ways of discipleship, which involves the bearing of a cross.

Bender is so concerned about the naturalness of witness that he is led into a fatal overemphasis on it, thereby neglecting ...

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