Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


The Uncomfortable Evangelist

Author Jana Riess, whose book, Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor, is on my list of must-reads- you can find her regularly blogging for the Religion News Service at “Flunking Sainthood”- recently posted a review of the book, Dinner with Muhammad, by Marilyn Hickey.

Tellingly, for Riess, reading Hickey’s book was an exploration of Riess’ own discomforts with evangelism- many of which I, too, share.

We evangelicals- and I count myself among them, insofar as someone like Karl Barth might be called an “evangelical” (and we could have a whole discussion about whether Barth really qualifies here)- place a high premium on evangelism.  We have good reason.  Jesus’ so-called “Great Commission” to “go and make disciples” appears in all of the Gospels.  The whole Acts narrative of the apostle Paul’s journey to plant churches from Jerusalem “to the ends of the earth” hangs on this command.

“Making disciples” may necessarily require our discomfort.  But it is also true that “making disciples” should never demand our own “superiority,” which we evangelicals can tend to ground in a kind of reckless abandon to “certainty for certainty’s sake.”

This is problematic, not too mention disingenuous.  There are very few things that as I grow older I realize I’m certain about.  I don’t think I’m alone here.

Yet in much of the evangelical world, certainty around a pretty narrow set of beliefs becomes a kind of credential for evangelism- and, I might add, for our own superiority in interacting with so-called “unreached people groups,” such as Muslims.

I applaud Riess for shining a light on the pitfalls of such approaches to evangelism.

Have any of you read Hickey’s book? Did you share Riess’ impression?  

 



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