Sunday

The "Logic" of the Gospel


Do you remember that old evangelism tract, The 4 Spiritual Laws? It is accurately described as one of the most effective evangelistic tools ever developed. Millions of copies (one report says billions of copies) have been distributed in all of the major languages of the world. Millions of people, possibly tens of millions of people have given their lives to Christ through this tract.

I am very thankful for that tract, and for how God has used it. It has been a powerful tool.

I'm coming to the conclusions that evangelism based on the 4 Spiritual Laws is inferior and that such a method of evangelism is becoming rapidly irrelevant in our culture. The tract worked fine in the 60s and 70s (it was written in 1956), but the 60s and 70s were a long time ago.


Let me explain, because this feels like the kind of statement that might trigger a response. My complaint is not with that tract, nor with using it to present the gospel. My complaint is with the the gospel that the tract supports.

I've used the 4 Laws a lot, and I've led many to Christ with that tract. It's a good tract, but it's still a tract. But it is fundamentally a logical argument to present the logic of the gospel: here are the reasons why you should pray this prayer and receive Christ. I believe that a logical presentation of the gospel is an inferior presentation because of this: anybody that I can logically persuade of something (for example, the gospel) can also logically be persuaded away from that position. There are too many men and women who were logically persuaded have experienced that and are no longer following Christ: they've been persuaded again.

And it's my observation (and if you watch American advertising, they’re convinced as well) that our culture is less interested in logic, less compelled by argument; hence my conclusion that the 4 Laws is less relevant: we no longer live in a logical culture.

In its place, I would suggest an encounter with the supernatural power of God might be a fine introduction to a God who loves them.


I know a man, a chef named Tom, who is pretty excited about Jesus because God healed his left knee that had been hurting him for many years. Every time he sees me, he tells me again that his left knee is healed, and he's still excited three years later. He's excited about God not because he's been persuaded, but because when God healed his knee, it spoke to something deeper than his intellect, deeper than his logic.

I have a close friend that had been faithful in a solid church. My friend, also Tom, was faithful, but dying on the vine. (Some would argue that "at least he was still on the vine" and there is merit to that argument.)

Only because of the encouragement of a friend and mentor, Tom and his wife Pat went to a meeting where a prophet was visiting. The prophet "busted him": spoke to the deep hidden issues that he hadn't shared with anybody but his wife. The prophet gently and lovingly told Tom the questions that he had been hiding, and then he answered them. Tom and Pat are changed people. For the 5 years since that encounter, they've been very excited about God, about the Word, about fellowship, about knowing God, about introducing others to God, about caring for lost sheep. They're so excited, they've written a book about their supernatural encounters with God.

I have, if anything, a higher regard for the Word than ever before. I studied the Word and I studied exegesis, and I use those skills and techniques regularly today. I teach the Word, and I teach how to study the Word (among other subjects).

But, you know, Jesus never persuaded anybody about his message. Logic had no part in His version of the gospel. Never once did he point out, "because of this and this, therefore you know I'm the Messiah."

What he did was healed the sick, cast out demons, multiplied lunch. Pretty much every time he taught, he also did miracles. And pretty much every time he did a miracle, he used that to teach. Jesus did not use logic, He used signs and wonders. He healed the sick and cast out demons, and then declared that to be who God is.

I had been taught (I don't know if you got stuck in the same place I did) that knowing and obeying the Word was the answer. It’s valuable; and it’s not the answer. But it would be easy to foolishly go to the opposite end of the spectrum and say that knowing and obeying the word is irrelevant. That would be complete hogwash. The answer is (in my opinion today) that the Word is the best tool we have for knowing God. But it's only a tool; it's not the goal; the goal is that relationship; the goal is knowing God.

The message that Jesus brought was also not about the Bible of His day. He didn't ignore the Word; He used it. But the message He brought was "Follow me." It was "The Kingdom of God is at hand." It was about "I am the Way." The gospel that Jesus brought was focused on Himself. And Jesus used signs and wonders to introduce people to God.

Our presentation of the gospel should be the same.



6 comments:

Dave Hayes said...

Thanks David, you've wonderfully expressed many things that have been going on inside my heart. You are not a heretic, but a blessing to all who are touched by your graceful words.

(the other) Dave

Seraphim said...

I totally understand how God maybe reducing you in a way that is useful to him and that on your personal journey you may have abused logic in your quest to tell others about who God is and why they should submit to him...but...

Isn't Christ the word, and the truth? You don't convince someone of Christ...you logically tell them who he is. The spirit does the work. I imagine that if we were to see a heavenly picture of our witnessessing and what it "REALLY" sounds like, (when we think we're being so holy)...I imagine it would be similar to when the adults talk to charlie brown..."wah wah wah wha wa wan wah". It's the spirit that does the work. Our words, whether logical or mystical, are just that, empty and void of truth. God is truth and the spirit confronts that person nose to nose with himself. Then regeneration can take place.

And contrary to what I think what you're trying to say about Christs use of logic and scripture, Christ DID use logic. What he didn't do is go around potificating huge doctrinal theorems and submitting long opinion papers. He is God. If he spoke only a single phrase "I am" it would have been enough to bring his followers (who know his voice and call) to him. Don't mistake others limited use of the face of God, IE Logic as somehow fallacious just because you think that someone could be easily led away. There's no silver bullet you can load into a gun and inject Christ into people. that's not your job.

does that make sense? I didn't peer review my comment, I just spoke from the heart.

David McLain said...

Seraphim, I really appreciate your time and insight. But I don't think I'm hearing all you're saying yet.

I understand that Jesus did more than just miracles, though unlike most of modern evangelism, he never spoke without miracles. I acknowledge that he used logic, but he didn't seem to use it in a logical manner (the end of Mt 22 may serve as an illustration). In any case, the logic he used is pretty distantly removed from the logic of modern evangelicalism.

Jesus didn't seem to use that logic to communicate the gospel. John 10:38: "... even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." I *think* he's saying, "Build your faith on the power of God."

All that said, I don't propose to eliminate logic. It may launch another post for another day, but logic is a powerful tool in the Spirit, provided (and this is big) that we begin with Kingdom foundations, Kingdom assumptions. If we begin with worldly assumptions (and it's hard not to), then we'll end up with worldly conclusions.

You make an interesting connection: "... the face of God, IE Logic ..." Can you help me make that connection?

David McLain said...

Another way to say it:
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1324745769731

12345 said...
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fortuneminds said...
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