Christian Evidences in Evangelism

If our ministry is to be effec­tive, we must adapt our methods of presenta­tion to the mental and spiritual outlook of the generation in which we live.

By W. L. EMMERSON, Editor, British Present Truth

Writing to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul expresses his deter­mination to be "all things to all men" that he might by all means save some. Therein he lays down a principle which is vital to effective gospel ministry. He realized that although the gospel is everlasting and un­changeable, his presentation of it must be adapted to meet the varying needs and con­ditions of men. His epistles show how, by inspiration, he was enabled to do this. The epistle he sent to Rome was eminently suited to the legal minds of the Roman church, while to the Corinthians and Ephesians, who were familiar with the "mystery cults" of Delphi and Eleusis, he expounded the "mysteries" of Christ.

That the other disciples recognized the same principle is evident from a study of the Gos­pels. Matthew, writing to the Jews, demon­strates how the Old Testament prophecies, with which they were so familiar, are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Luke, penning his Gos­pel for the philosophical Greek, sets out to con­vince Theophilus by the evidence of facts that Jesus was different from other men. John begins with the "Logos," or "Word," a con­ception well known to both Jew and Greek as the principle of order in the universe, which shows that Jesus is the incarnate Logos.

In like manner, if our ministry is to be effec­tive, we must adapt our methods of presenta­tion to the mental and spiritual outlook of the generation in which we live. The most promi­nent characteristic of our time is a skepticism of everything handed down from the past, whether political theory, economic law, or re­ligious dogma. There was a time when a "Thus saith the Lord" from the pages of Holy Writ was accepted as authoritative. Today, however, the Bible is no longer regarded as a revelation of the thoughts of God, but as a compendium of man's thoughts, often very primitive, about God.

Consequently, however apt the preacher may be in quoting chapter and verse for his mes­sage, he will not secure conviction until he has changed his hearers' whole attitude toward the Bible and its teachings. He must be able to give a reason for the hope that is within him before he can communicate that hope to a skeptical generation. In order to clear away these intellectual difficulties of the modern mind, the preacher today must invoke the evi­dential method of approach. He will seek, in his early contacts with his congregation, to show that the modern view is the result of an imperfect knowledge of the Bible and hasty deductions from the facts, and that whenever the Bible can be put to the test, it is in har­mony with true science.

Evidence of Prophecy.—The fulfillment of prophecy remains one of the most valuable of Christian evidences. The preacher can ef­fectively draw attention to predictions of Bible prophets written two or three thousand years ago, and show how they have been fulfilled with the most marvelous precision at exactly the time specified. As it is generally recog­nized that the human mind cannot penetrate the future with any degree of certainty, the conclusion is inevitable that the prophecies of the Bible are of divine and not of human origin, and through the evidence of Bible prophecy many a skeptic has been led to accept the Scriptures as the inspired word of God.

Bible and Science.—In the same way, other evidential lines of approach may be used to dispel doubt and inspire belief in the divine origin of the Bible. It is commonly believed that the Bible account of the origin as well as of the miracles recorded in the Sacred Word is at variance with the "assured results" of modern science, and that in consequence it is unacceptable to the modern mind. It now appears, however, that the hasty conclusions of the destructive critics of the last century are one after another being negatived by the latest findings in the realm of science.

The crude materialism which explained everything in terms of chemistry and physics is no longer accepted by leading scientists, who now recognize that the universe must have been originated by a First Cause outside of itself. The doctrine of biological evolution, so triumphantly invoked to repudiate the early chapters of Genesis, is no longer regarded as a foregone conclusion.

Life only from preexistent life, and the un­deviating reproduction of species "after their kind," are two other principles laid down in the Scriptures which are entirely in harmony with scientific facts. Similarly, the theory of religious evolution from magic, through poly­theism, to the worship of one God, is now shown to be entirely out of harmony with modern anthropology, scientists now support­ing the Bible view that monotheism was man's first religion.

These facts, which demonstrate the scientific accuracy of the Bible, may be convincingly used in clearing away intellectual difficulties from many minds.

Voices from the Dust.—Perhaps the most thrilling confirmations of the trustworthiness of the Bible are those which have been pro­vided during the past century by Biblical archeology. A few decades ago the critic could brush aside the stories of Abraham and of Ur of the Chaldees as myths, and the be­liever could adduce no evidence outside the Bible to contradict him. The critics could pour scorn upon the fate of Sodom and Go­morrah and laugh at the idea that Jericho's walls fell flat, and the Christian's only reply was that he accepted by faith the accuracy of the record.

In the providence of God, however, the new science of archeology is now placing in our hands a mass of facts, which vindicate in a most remarkable way the trustworthiness of Bible history, geography, and chronology. Ur has been found, and its buried treasures have been uncovered by Leonard Woolley. The five kings of Genesis 14, led by Amraphel, have been identified in contemporary records. Sodom and Gomorrah, we are told by Melvin Grove Kyle, were destroyed by fire ; and Jericho's walls, according to Professor Garstang, did fall flat.

The stories of Joseph and Moses, of the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan, have been substantiated by the records of ancient Egypt, while the contacts of Israel with Babylonia and Assyria are abundantly confirmed from con­temporary documents of these nations. The much-abused geography of the Acts of the Apostles, to mention only one New Testament item, turns out to be more accurate than that of the Greek and Roman geographers.

The trustworthiness of the Bible records now stands in most striking contrast with the historical records of Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Again, therefore, the conclusion cannot be resisted that the Bible is different, not in degree, but in kind, from other books, and a foundation is laid for recognition of its real character.

Limitations of Christian Evidence.—As they deal only with the intellect, Christian evi­dences are, of course, not a substitute for the exposition of the gospel which wins the heart and constrains the will. The gospel must ulti­mately be apprehended by faith, and no amount of evidence will commend Christianity to one who is determined not to believe. On the other hand, Christian evidences can and do remove real intellectual difficulties imposed upon the mind by a skeptical age, and they are able to lead the unbeliever to the threshold of faith. They show that the Christian is not a victim of blind credulity against the evidence of his senses. They demonstrate, on the contrary, that faith is eminently reasonable, and in har­mony with recent scientific investigations.

Application to Evangelism.—From these considerations we adduce several principles which the preacher should observe in the ap­plication of Christian evidences to the work of evangelism.

1. As an approach to the Bible peculiarly suited to an age of doubt, subjects like "Can We Believe the Bible ?" "Creation or Evolu­tion?" and "Voices From the Dust," may profitably be introduced early in an evangel­istic campaign. Some have run whole efforts on evidential lines, with considerable success.

2. Christian evidences lend themselves to treatment as stereopticon, or lantern, lectures, and often help to hold a congregation which is beginning to thin out as a result of the presentation of testing truths.

3. Whatever your subject, be sure that you master your facts and state them accurately, or you may expose yourself to valid criticism of hearers who are well versed in the theories you are attempting to refute.

4. On the other hand, do not imagine that a mastery of facts will best be revealed by a lib­eral use of technical language. Remember that your congregation is not a scientific society, and that you must simplify your presentation so that the humblest may easily follow you.

5. Though you seek to destroy false concep­tions, make your presentation positive rather than negative. Let the final impression be that the Bible is right, rather than that the critic is wrong.

6. Finally, never ridicule the unbeliever. His difficulties may be real and sincere, and he will be repelled rather than convinced if you adopt a scornful attitude toward him. Ever keep in mind the advice of the apostle Peter, and how­ever devastating your argument, advance it with meekness and godly fear.

Bibliography of British Works (Not including Adventist publications)

General

"History of Christian Apologetics," Gravie.

Bible and Science

"Evolution and Revelation," J. A. Fleming.

"Case Against Evolution," B. O'Toole. Macmillan.

"Evolution in the Light of Modern Knowledge," Blackie Publishers.

"Science Rediscovers God," R. C. Macfie. T. & T. Clarke.

"Bible and Modern Science," L. M. Davies.

"Origin and Growth of Religion," W. Schmidt. Methuen.

"The Unknown God," A. Noyes. Sheed & Ward.

Archeology and the Bible

"Digging Up Bible History," J. G. Duncan. S. P. C. K.

"Accuracy of the Old Testament," J. G. Duncan.

"Joshua—Judges," J. Garstang. Constable.  

"Heritage of Solomon," J. Garstang. Williams and Norgate.

"Bible Is True," C. Marston. Eyre & Spottiswoode.

"Hittite Empire," J. Garstang. Constable.

"Bible Comes Alive," C. Marston. Eyre & Spottis­woode.

"Accuracy of the Bible," Yahuda.

"'Samaria in Ahab's Time," J. W. Jack. T. & T. Clarke,

"Exploration at Sodom," M. G. Kyle. Religious Tract Society.

-The Stones Cry Out," F. W. Fawthrop. Marshall, M. & S.

"Excavations at Babylon," R. Koldewey. Mac­millan.

"The Sumerians," L. Woolley.

"Ur of the Chaldees," L. Woolley.

"Monument Facts and Higher Critical Fallacies," A. H. Sayce. Religious Tract Society.

"New Archaeological Discoveries," C. M. Cobern. Funk & Wagnalls.

Higher Criticism and the Bible

"A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament," R. D. Wilson. Harper.

"The Bible Under Fire," J. L. Campbell. Harper. "The Bible, Christ, and Modernism," T. J. Mc­Crossan. Covenant Publishing Co.

"Bible and Modern Criticism," R. Anderson. Pickering and Inglis.

"Deciding Voice of the Movement," M. G. Kyle.


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By W. L. EMMERSON, Editor, British Present Truth

April 1939

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