Article excerpt

Regardless of denomination, evangelism retains for Christians its strong and rightful appeal. The reason is that it is not tangential to Christian faith but rooted in the apostolic identity of the church. From Baptism and Sunday school, Christians are shaped by a biblical narrative that enjoins them to make disciples of all nations. The risen Jesus delivers his great commission on a mountain in Galilee. Peter stands up on Pentecost and three thousand persons are said to hear his summons to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. And Paul travels the roads of the Mediterranean world on three journies to proclaim God's salvation to the gentiles. As the activity that corresponds to these narratives, Christianity is unthinkable without evangelism.

Evangelism is also a "hot button" item. It stirs the passions and incites argument. For example, it is virtually a truism to observe that those who think of themselves as Evangelicals have generally practiced evangelism with a joy and enthusiasm that rivals the early church. They insist that one is to proclaim to unbelievers everywhere, whether at home or abroad, the good news that God in Jesus Christ has inaugurated his kingdom and is at work to bring it to its consummation. The most precious gift that Christians can share with others is their confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the eyes of Liberationists, however, to take this position is romantic. They contend that one has only to look at the history of Christian missions to be reminded that proclamation of the gospel has too often been used as a thin veneer to hide the promulgation of Western--and indeed patriarchal--political and cultural power. …