Petersen has written a perceptive book about sharpening the edge of our evangelism. That edge no longer penetrates the cortex of our society. A Billy Graham associate expresses the opinion that we have reached most of the unreached who will respond to the gospel. Those being reached are either strays from the church or have church contacts. A worldwide survey shows that 87 percent of people responding to the gospel already have a Protestant heritage.
Most people live in a world that does not include God. Disillusioned with society, they have a feeling of futility and a "sense of ending" that should make them reachable. But they do not believe in absolutes. They show little interest in what the Bible or the church has to offer. Traditional methods of evangelism do not work with these people.
These facts lay out the setting for Petersen's approach to winning people to Christ. Simply expressed, he presents the same solution as Paul used in evangelizing his pagan world: "I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2, NKJV). Jesus must be on the cutting edge of our work for souls.
There are two ways of evangelizing--by proclamation and by affirmation. Proclamation means witnessing; affirmation means being a witness.
Proclamation refers to the process of presenting content. Affirmation means modeling and explaining the Christian message. Petersen implies that we tend to proclaim the gospel but do not affirm it. He says that Christ reaches people primarily through lives, and only secondarily through teachings.
This is elementary stuff to Adventists, right! We know it! But our results do not show much more success than other Christians experience. It seems we also have difficulty putting the gospel into practice. I believe this author has some thing from which we also can learn.
Petersen devotes more than half the book to affirmation methods involving the individual, the church body, and verbal witness. The methods he suggests are neither sensational nor particularly new--Jesus, Paul, and Peter used them. But Petersen offers valuable insights on how to apply them in today's world.
I recommend this book for those who care about personal evangelism in a secular society.