Apologetic evangelism: an oxymoron?

by Phillip Jensen

sorryApologetic evangelism is neither apologetics nor evangelism. Since the language of today is apologetic, and certainty is considered arrogance, how then can we evangelise modern, or post-modern, society?

Evangelism is the declaration of the great news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is the announcement of God’s victory in his Son; the proclamation of the coming of the age of salvation. It calls upon people to repent and tells them to trust Jesus for their salvation. It assures them of the full, complete forgiveness that Jesus has won for them and the new life that his Spirit brings them.

There is nothing to apologize for in evangelism. It is the most wonderful news that we will ever have to tell anybody. Judgement over, condemnation passed, sins forgiven, new life commenced, eternity awaiting us as we grow in God’s loving grace.

But today the world accuses those who speak with such confidence, of arrogance. They ask: Who can really speak of knowing the truth that will set you free? Isn’t everything just a matter of opinion and everybody’s opinion of equal worth? At best you can suggest that it “may be worth considering” the view that Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification.

So our modern evangelist suggests it with apologies—“I know that it is a view that is old fashioned and caused some considerable strife, dividing communities and even families—but it may be worth pondering.” “I know I can’t prove that it is true, that it’s all a matter of opinion—I am only asking you to ponder the possibility that there may be something in it.”

If we are going to be so bold as to suggest that people should change their religion, shouldn’t we apologise for all the wrong things that our church has done over the centuries? Shouldn’t we assure people that they are every bit as moral as we are and their views have as much, if not more, good points than ours? Isn’t considering Christianity superior pride?

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