Paul Copan discusses tactics for preaching the gospel

This article talks about 10 factors related to talking about sin (bad news) during evangelism. (H/T Apologetics 315)

Here’s one factor from his list that I’m a little uncomfortable with:

2.  I have met plenty of “the encountered” who report that those who “witness” by telling the bad news first commonly come across as judgmental, legalistic, arrogant, scolding, and morally superior.  Yes, rebels against God love darkness rather than light.  Does this mean we never mention the need to turn away from the lifestyle of the spiritually dead?  Not at all.  (See the comments on idolatry below.)  Our consciously taking on Paul’s chief-of-sinners title would go a long way in building bridges.  In the words of the evangelist D. T. Niles, we are like one beggar telling another where to find bread.  We should remember that friendship commonly helps lower defenses and helps create a context for people to connect with the gospel.

I believe in objective morality, so I like it if someone who is morally superior to me judges me and scolds me. I’m ok with that. What’s the big deal? It’s only annoying to be judged if you’re a relativist. I think it’s fun to be judged. FUN!

And here’s one that I agree with:

5.  How many of us came to trust in Christ because a stranger told us that we were sinners?  While this certainly occurs, we more likely turned to Christ through believing friends or relatives who modeled an attractive, redeemed life. Statistics reveal that up to 90% of those who have come to Christ and faithfully continue in their discipleship were introduced to the Christian faith through believing friends and relatives.  This personal connection to the gospel came through love, acceptance, and a patient modeling of the Christian faith.  (See, for example, the Arns’ The Master’s Plan for Making Disciples.)

A more recent piece of research comes from Bridge Builders’ David Bennett.  He describes how adults become Christians — which, we should remember, is typically more of a process than it is for kids at a Christian summer camp!  His survey shows that times of crisis/felt needs (death, illness) present an open door for Christian friendship; in his research, this has been the most effective means of seeing people respond to Christ.  Ninety-two percent (92%) of those surveyed first had a Christian friend before they responded to the gospel. The research showed that those who found Christ did so through a gradual process.

This article is kinda nice, gentle and Christian-y. Blech! But I thought some of you (you know who are – MARA!) would like it. Paul Copan is a great philosopher. He knows when to be mean (his response to John Dominic Crossan at the Greer-Heard Forum was fantastic!), and he knows when to be nice.

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3 thoughts on “Paul Copan discusses tactics for preaching the gospel”

  1. Hey Wintery Knight,
    I just read your comment about Rodney Stark over at the original article and I wanted to let you know that even though he was an agnostic at the time of most of his writings on religion and Christianity, during the last few years he has become a Christian! He did a few interviews following a national survey of religious belief that he did at Baylor a year or so ago, and revealed this fact.


    1. OK, great! Just so everyone knows we are talking about sociologist Rodney Stark, who writes the very best books on the impact of Christian beliefs and practices on society as a whole. He is at Baylor. I have all his books! I really recommend him to Christians who hear the charge that Christianity has a bad track record in history.


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