Editorial Keynotes

Evangelistic Orthodoxy and Unorthodoxy

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry

One of our younger evangelists, about to begin a series of meetings with a subject other than Daniel 2 as his opening topic, was reprimanded by his superior. The assertion was made that such would not be orthodox Adventist evangelistic procedure. As ultimate proof this superior stated that he had always, in his own past evangelistic work (a long way past, incidentally), opened with Daniel 2. And every evangelistic series, he averred, ought to begin with that theme.

Fortunately this does not happen to be the ease. If it were, then standard handbills might well be printed wholesale, with only name, place, and date to be filled in. Conditions vary, com­munities differ, and audiences have a char­acteristic personality. World interest, or con­cern, at the moment, may offer the key to the successful approach. We must give our mes­sage, but we should adapt it to the immediate circumstance. We must present Daniel 2—pre­sent it more impressively and effectively than was ever possible in the past—but not neces­sarily in the same sequence or under the same topic.

The deadly similarity of sequence and topic on the part of some evangelists immediately dis­closes their denominational identity and subjects them to needless prejudices and handicaps from the very first. We must win confidence concern­ing truths on which we are often maligned and misrepresented. We must reach groups that our spiritual forefathers rarely ever touched. We must declare ourselves outspokenly on the great basic verities of Christian faith, as well as on our distinctive truths. Orthodoxy in method does not consist in the repetition of a former pattern. Christ, our example, varied every ap­proach to the individual, the group, and the community, in the light of the immediate inter­est and concern. From thence He led into the very, heart of His message. We cannot improve on His method.

Nor is there any support or mandate in the Spirit of prophecy for a rigid sequence of sub­jects. We are admonished repeatedly that varying conditions—city or rural, educated or illiterate, Catholic or Protestant, homeland or foreign—call for varied approaches. There is inspired soundness and divine wisdom in these counsels from God. Let us not set ourselves, our personal opinions, or our traditions above them. Rather, let us follow the authoritative blueprint. This is needed as never before.

Finally, there is no General Conference ac­tion, Autumn Council policy, or evangelistic council manual of instruction that designates Daniel 2 as the orthodox opening subject. There is not even an unwritten tradition to that effect. Many have used this as an opening topic, but by no means all. Such a contention is merely some individual's notion, probably based upon the frequent usage of many Let us not put metes and bounds about the free operation of the Spirit of God, who still leads men in the choice of topics and the best form of approach for a given man in a given series in a given com­munity, and under given conditions. It would be well if some were to lose the sermon outlines that they used twenty years ago (with varying success), and make a fresh study of God's changeless message in the light of the challenges of 1944.

L. E. F.

 

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L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry

February 1944

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Editorial Keynotes

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