B.R. Holt is an executive editor of Ministry.

Have you read the latest best seller from the evangelical religious press? The one everyone is talking about—Was Blind But Now I See?

The publisher's promotional piece says, "Follow the odysseys of Paul, a liberal theologian whose contempt for evangelical, fundamentalist Christians is dramatically changed when he finds himself unexpectedly born again in a blinding experience with the Lord. You'll thrill at his miraculous conversion; weep as he patiently endures suspicion and hostility in the local church; and find yourself praising the Lord as the former staid scholar careens from one narrow escape to another in his unconventional witnessing ministry. Here is a man whom the Lord has used mightily, and now you can share his intimate story. Look for Was Blind But Now I See at your local Christian bookstore."

You're right; it isn't on anyone's best seller list. Thankfully, it hasn't even been written, but only because Paul lived too long ago by a few hundred years. Today we would never allow such a fantastic (not to mention lucrative) story to escape.

Thumb through almost any evangelical magazine nowadays and you can't avoid noticing a disturbing trend more and more—we are focusing on people and less and less on the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, maybe that's not a really fair accusation. Evangelical publishing is producing some solid meat, but the glorification of individuals and the search for the most exciting story is escalating—rapidly. Nor is the trend confined to publishing. The lecture circuit, the TV and radio talk show, and the cassette "ministry" are all involved. Everyone has something that he is pushing, and if it can be tied to a celebrity or a sensational experience, so much the better for sales, especially if the copywriter can somehow get in the words born again.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a person's giving his Christian witness. Even Paul told his story on two or three occasions. But according to the record, he didn't send out a direct-mail piece urging Christians to see him in person at the sports arena flanked by the recently born-again coach and halfback of the Super Bowl champions. Nor did he go coast to coast on color television where his testimony was scheduled to follow right behind a country-music star singing her latest country gospel hit. It's hard to picture Paul promoting tapes of his latest crusade in Athens, perhaps because the transcript of that crusade as given in Acts 17 doesn't seem to have quite the charismatic intensity needed to make it in today's tape market.

It could be that times have changed since Paul lived. Maybe if he were here today, he would be a guest on the celebrity talk shows and hire a press agent to get his books published. But maybe, just maybe, he would still stay with the method he outlined to the Corinthian Christians, "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I re solved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1, 2, N.I.V.).*

The approach sounds rather low-key to accomplish very much. But Paul found it successful as churches all over Asia testified. Who knows? It might still work today! B.R.H.

* From The New International Version. Copyright 1978 by New York International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

 

 

 


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B.R. Holt is an executive editor of Ministry.

May 1980

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