Evangelicalism is committed to evangelism-that is, the proclamation of the gospel in the full confidence that it contains something God-given that will enable it to find a response in the hearts and minds of men and women. Evangelism is natural to evangelicals. "The church," wrote Emil Brunner, "lives by mission as a fire lives by burning." Evangelism is something intrinsic to the identity of the church-not an optional extra, but something that is part and parcel of its very being.

To give such an emphasis to evangelism is thus to recognize both the inherent rightness of the gospel and its intrinsic attractiveness. That attraction is supremely the person of Jesus Christ. It is a "pearl of great price," something that is recognized to be worth seeking and possessing, and whose possession overshadows everything else. Evangelicalism thus fosters an attitude of expectation-an expectation that the gospel will be a delight and joy to others. This is coupled with a systematic endeavor to uncover the ways in which the inherent appeal of the gospel can be best articulated, in the certainty that this appeal rests on a reliable and responsible historical and theological foundation.

It must be stressed that there is no question of altering the gospel to make it more attractive. For evangelicalism, that is the supreme error of liberalism-doing violence to the gospel itself in an attempt to make it more easily acceptable to modern culture. The issue is ensuring that the gospel is preached faithfully for all it is worth, without the misrepresentations that cause offense to so many.

Many secular writers respond to this emphasis on evangelism by reaching for the nearest cliche and writing of "Christian imperialism"; others suggest that the ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.