on March 17, 2005
Our adult Sunday School class is just starting this study & we're very excited about it. There is a coordinating DVD that we're using also. Based on the principles from "Purpose Driven Life", the format is fresh and the questions are relevant. My only criticism is that the lessons are designed to take an hour & 1/2 and we only have an hour for Sunday School. If you're looking for a packaged program to draw your group closer through fellowship & Bible study, this is for you.
on October 16, 2008
The DVD includes six 10-15 min. video segments with discussion questions and is suitable for a small group study. The six speakers are Chip Ingram, Steve Farrar, Anne Ortland, Bruce Wilkinson, Doug Fields, Steve Arterburn. They were all good with one exception; Doug Fields speaking on evangelism.
Session 5 "Sharing Your Life Mission Every Day", by Doug Fields
The theme of Mr. Fields talk is, since you don't want to appear as a lunatic Christian, and you can't possibly know all the answers, just share your story. Don't feel bad if you can't articulate the biblical terms for salvation. After all, it's too technical and is not a good way to attract people. What we need is a new gospel. Not a gospel of `words' on repentance and forgiveness through Christ, but a gospel of `deeds' that will appeal to unbelievers and make Christianity more acceptable.
The model for evangelism promoted by Doug Fields can be done with little or no biblical content. This caught my attention and provoked a response because compromising the gospel is no small issue. While his message is not blatantly false, it is certainly out of balance. The problem is not so much with what Mr. Fields promotes, but the fact that, in a talk about evangelism, he dismisses the core message of the gospel.
Throughout his talk he minimizes truth and emphasizes love. But just as truth without love has its problems; love without truth is equally in error. Neither is a biblical expression of love. In evangelism, as with any other area, truth and love are to work in tandem. Doug Fields actually discourages and at times nearly ridicules reasoning for the truth of the gospel. He does this by offering two caricatures; the lunatic and the intellectual.
Listen to Mr. Fields characterization of a person who shares a biblically informed gospel message.
* "memorize the "four happy hops to heaven" and be ready to repeat them"
* "stand in the middle of your neighborhood street and flag cars down and say hey roll your
window down I want to tell you about Jesus"
* "screaming preachers with bad toupees"
* "guys on the street corner accosting innocent pedestrians"
* "those who go door to door wearing name tags for Jesus"
* "we must master mesmerizing verbal assaults that will wow people into placing their faith in
* "possess all the right weapons to handle the spiritual showdown at the water cooler"
* "we're called to be lights, not lunatics"
The spin is to create a negative image of those who use tracts, do street evangelism or are well prepared to reason for what is true. If you do these things you risk being labeled a "lunatic".
Let's say you're not a lunatic. Is it possible for the average, well mannered Christian to effectively reason for the truth of the gospel? The spin here is that substantial, persuasive answers are out reach for the average Christian. Therefore, don't worry about not having answers, just tell your story. Here Doug Fields uses rhetoric to leave the Christian feeling hopelessly ill-equipped.
* "say all the right things to someone in order to lead them to Christ"
* "to know all of the answers and be verbally powerful and persuasive"
* "able to answer difficult questions on the spot"
* "handle the pressure of a public debate"
* "give a detailed explanation of Mosaic law"
* "know how many angels can fit inside of a Volkswagen"
* "questions about evolution, creation, abortion, male pattern baldness,
* "questions you can't answer"
Here is his gospel of good deeds that dismisses the role of truth.
* "the text reads, "see your good deeds". It doesn't say "hear your good words"
* "words are weak"
* "when your faith is attractive, you're a light amongst darkness, when you're a light amongst
darkness you're being evangelistic!"
* "You don't need to be overtly Christian in order to show people Jesus"
* "when you love others your actions do all the speaking"
* "stories of people finding Christ because a neighbor met their practical needs"
* "I don't believe that God calls us to confront others with the gospel"
Showing love to unbelievers through meeting their practical needs is appropriate and essential. Mr. Fields is right in saying, "evangelism begins with showing love", but he has little to say about the gospel. In fact he says, "Acts of love are an effective way to let our lights shine bright and to reach our friends and neighbors for Christ." This is being a good neighbor. It is not sharing the gospel.
Here are examples of the new gospel message we are encouraged to adopt.
* "I was blind but now I see"
* "Jesus changed my life and made me whole"
* "I was a sinner and Jesus forgave me"
* "God has done something big in my life"
These are wonderful responses of gratitude, but they are not the gospel. When we lose a clear biblical message, what remains is a sugar coated shell with no content. There is nothing distinctly Christian about evangelism based on "good deeds and my story".
In the last few seconds of the video Mr. Fields quotes 1 Cor. 2:2. "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." He says, "this is what it's all about; Christ and Him crucified. And this truth should be the driving motivation in all of our contacts with the nonbelieving world". Here Mr. Fields adds the missing element to his presentation. My concern is that it's too little too late and inadequate to offset 10 minutes of a badly distorted message. It's little more than a veneer of truth to disguise a false gospel.