My Three Part Plan: Progress Report

You’re speaking to someone who claims to be a Christian, or at least to someone who believes in God in one way or another. There is something important in the bible that they need to know. It may be to do with their eternal destiny, or it may be to do with their everyday behaviour. Perhaps something that they’re thinking or doing will harm them, or hurt those around them. 

So, you tell them what God says in His word and what will happen if we ignore His warnings. They put their hands together and look up and off to one side for a moment; then they look you full in the face (over the top of their glasses if they’re wearing any), and say with an air of utter certainty: “No. God doesn’t say that.” 

You press the point about reaping what we sow. Their expression is both pitying and patronising. “No! My God would never do that!”

You want to say, “You're right! Your god would never do that. That’s because your god is a god of your own imagination.” But, you don’t: that might close down the conversation altogether. So you open your bible, and try to get them to follow your forefinger as you take them to chapter and verse. They can hardly be bothered to look. What are they going to say? Yes, you’ve guessed it: “Well, that’s just a matter of interpretation.”

Where do you go from there, apart from to prayer?

That’s one of a number of problems that led me to come up with my Three Part Plan. (See blog entry for Saturday 18/11/17 for a full description.)

How have I been getting on?

Part One. Regular readers will know that I’m still plodding through Dr Stanton’s “Handbook Of Evangelism”, despite my reservations about his theology. It’s like listening to a sermon on the apostle Paul, nodding in agreement as point succeeds point, then looking up in amazement as the speaker finds spiritual significance in the fact that Paul fell from his horse. “What? Where does that come from?” you wonder. (N.B. You can find the book’s text for free on some Christian websites.)

Part Two. Mr Byington’s “Open-air Preaching: A Practical Manual For Pastor, Evangelists, And Other Christian Workers” did not disappoint. It was interesting and informative, and well worth the attention of all those named in its title. The practical part is confined to the final chapter, “The Best Methods”. Before that, we have “Open-Air Preaching” - “In The Establishment Of The Church”, “In The Extension Of The Church”, “In The Reformation Of The Church”, “In The Normal Life Of The Church”, “The More Of It The Better”, “As A Factor In City Evangelisation”, and “Who Will Go For Us?” (N.B. You can find this for free on the internet, as well - or, if you know me, you can borrow my copy.)

It seems that yesterday, as today, most church folk were/are under the impression that Christianity is all about inviting in to listen rather than going out to tell. Yes, I can hear someone saying it! “Well, that’s just a matter of interpretation!” “What? Where does that come from?” I wonder. Mr Byington does his best to set the record straight.

Writing of America, in 1892, he is cautiously optimistic: “The time when our cities shall be permeated with the Gospel life and spirit, as were the towns from which they grew, or from which their founders came, is distant. But surely, as the Lord liveth, it will come. The Gospel is bound to triumph among all these widely different classes, for the Gospel has not lost its power, nor is the Church of Christ dead.”

Part Three. My 2017 bible-in-one-year with Max McLean reading plan was a great success. What about the bible-in-chronological-order-in-one-year reading plan for 2018? Hmm, well, er - I’m sure it will be good, once I get going. Things just get in the way, don’t they? To encourage myself, I’ve finally bought a new bible - yes, that’s what was in the big brown parcel in that last entry. What kind of bible is it, and why was the parcel so large? How will it help me find out more about Christian manliness?

Answers coming soon.

To be continued.