EDITORIAL: Cheap Evangelism

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Unconditional inclusiveness is becoming the false evangelism of the 1990s. A few years ago, the nineties were proclaimed to be the "decade of evangelism" by some of the world's church leaders, especially in the Anglican Communion.

In December 1991, Anglican George Carey, then the incoming archbishop of Canterbury, editorialized in CHRISTIANITY TODAY that a decade of regeneration within the church would occur if there was a renewed focus on evangelistic outreach and evangelistic preaching. His endorsement of this decade-long focus on evangelism was great encouragement to African church leaders, myself included.

But four years later, Christian leaders in some quarters--as I discovered in the United States during consultations on evangelistic outreach--are being drawn into wrongful understandings concerning the teaching that the gospel is for all people, regardless of their sinfulness. If Christians call unbelievers to "come as you are, stay as you are," they are denying the gospel's transforming power. In certain seminaries, local churches, and at the denominational level, I have observed a weakening in the Christian commitment to God's call to transformation, particularly when it comes to sinful expressions of sexuality and harmful lifestyle choices.

As a church leader in Lubumbashi, Zaire, I often compare the church to a hospital, which welcomes everyone who is suffering, whatever their condition, but welcomes them with a compelling and life-changing purpose: to bring them healing. The medical staff will treat the sick person and do their best to cure the sickness or at least alleviate the suffering. The goal is restoration of life and lasting change.

We acknowledge that Jesus, the Great Physician, welcomed everyone, but he ...

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