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Witnesses (Chapter 5)

I perhaps can be accused in this chapter of drawing an artificial line between witnessing and evangelising. However, I have become convinced that we can end up evangelising (as that's what proper Christians do) and failing to witness.

What about friendship that is so that we end up being able to invite someone to a course on evangelism? If they don't respond? What are we witnessing to? Are we indeed being an unfaithful witness. Or door to door where we present a survey on the community set of questions... but our real interest is in their souls not the answer to the survey? Surely honesty is part of our witness?

I do not suggest that the early disciples did not evangelise - but that true evangelism is part of witnessing, and that we can evangelise and absolutely fail to witness. Conversely we can witness, and in so doing we might not quickly jump in to evangelise with our 'however many' laws.

In the chapter I pick up on Paul plans to come to Rome to preach the Gospel: to the community of faith. This is not evangelism per se. It raises a huge question as to what was he going to preach.

The Gospel that Paul carried would be very powerful in Rome. Rome had its own gospel - the gospel of the divine Caesar! If the faith community could understand more fully the Gospel of Jesus it would strengthen them to be totally counter-culture to the wider community. Their values and allegiance would not be to an Imperial system, but to a Risen Lord. That would be their witness!

Questions to consider:

  • Do you agree with the divide I have made, and the insistence that any evangelism needs to be based on faithful witnessing?
  • Do you think the criticism of 'I will be your friend but if you do not respond I will move on to the next person' is justified?
    (This of course ties in with the earlier chapter on dehumanising people... so being very provocative could some evangelism even be 'demonic', dehumanising people and also by default misrepresenting the God being talked about?)
  • The Gospel and Rome will occupy later volumes in more detail... how did that sit with you?
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