Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Contrast Continued

We have been discussing how we present the gospel so that we encourage genuine faith in Jesus Christ and discourage false faith. We have seen the contrast between the method used by Evangelism Explosion (EE) and the method used by Richard Baxter. Let me enumerate some distinctions I noticed.

1. Baxter has a strong sense of the inability of the sinner to believe. EE treats the sinner's inability as unimportant. In fact, EE gives the distinct impression that the right presentation will significantly impact the outcome.

2. Thus, Baxter seeks to powerfully persuade the sinner by pointing to Christ but intentionally refrains from leading the sinner in a prayer or any other religious action. He simply urges the sinner to act. He closes by praying to God himself on behalf of the sinner, but does not ask the sinner to pray a prayer. EE treats "the sinner's prayer" as the whole goal of the gospel presentation.

3. Baxter's concept of trusting in Christ includes a robust sense of fully turning from the old way of life. Without this there is no conversion. EE seeks to assure the "convert" of everlasting salvation simply on the basis of right answers to a few questions and a brief prayer.

4. Given his concept of conversion, Baxter emphasizes using the means of grace. EE omits this entirely as irrelevant to the gospel.

Though there are obviously many similarities in these two presentations of the gospel, the differences are stark and significant. They encapsulate two different conceptions of Christianity.

Post Script: For those who would like to consider further how one's doctrine influences the presentation of the gospel, you may wish to read these two recent blog posts:
(1) An Open Letter to Seekers
(2) A Five-Pointer Shares the Gospel

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