The Starting Point

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Nancy Pearcey in her book, Total Truth, brought something into focus that I had thought about but hadn’t quite got together. She observed that a common weakness of evangelism is that we start with redemption. It’s true, especially among evangelicals. When there is an altar call at the end of a sermon, it can’t help but control the entire sermon. The object is to bring the sinner home. Evangelism starts with redemption.

I have commented before about the signs we used to see on the sides of barns, and in neon lights on top of a temple in downtown Los Angeles: Jesus Saves. Yes, but what does that mean? Saves from what? Saves for what? What do you mean by that? I have heard Billy Graham cry out, Christ is the answer. Does anyone ever ask, Yes, but what was the question?

Christian evangelism seemed to me to be all bound up in their own jargon. It is good that, in spite of all that, they found enough people who felt they needed saving from something and came to accept Christ. And some of these people experienced a changed life as a result.

Nothing I am going to say here, and nothing Ms. Pearcey says, should diminish the idea of redemption in the least. That said, she advanced a kind of framework for a worldview composed of three elements: Creation, The Fall, Redemption. Her argument is that the place evangelism should start is not with redemption. It should start with creation. For without this truth at the foundation, nothing else means anything.

Unless you believe in the creation, the idea of a fall is meaningless, and so is redemption. Man is just a terrible accident that the universe would have been better off without—except, without creation, there is no better or worse.


Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Image Credits: Jukan Tateisi