Louis Berkhof

Louis Berkhof – The Need For Evangelism

The first is the threatened decline of vital religion under present methods of preaching. If the Gospel be the power of God unto salvation, we are entitled to believe that wherever it is presented to men’s minds it will influence and impress them. If men are not influenced or impressed under preaching, the only alternatives are, either that the Gospel in substance is not the power of God unto salvation, or that the Gospel in form is not presented to them so as to reach them. Either the Gospel cannot save them, or the Gospel does not reach them. We, as Christians, are shut up to the latter. The Gospel is not reaching men. There are hundreds of churches where the Gospel is not reaching men. Every third minister one meets confesses that. The Church, as a whole, admits, for instance, that she is rapidly losing hold of young men as a class. What does that mean? It really means that the Gospel, as presented to them, has ceased to be a gospel; it is neither good nor new. It means that the active thinkers of a congregation, the most hopeful and eager, are failing to find anything there to meet their case. It is not simply that many of them object to religion naturally, which will always be the case, but that those who are looking for a religion do not find it. Many of ourselves know this by our own experience. How long did we not search; on what diverse ministries did we not wait; to what endless volumes did we not turn; before finding a message which our faith could grasp or conscience rest on, and at the same time our intelligence respect? “I like Christianity,” said Hallam, the subject of Tennyson’s “In Memoriam,” “because it fits into all the folds of one’s nature.” How long was it before we found a form of Christianity which fitted into any of the folds of our nature? From the time they were Sabbath-school scholars onwards, it is the experience of thousands of young men that they find only misfit after misfit in the theological clothes in which they were asked to disguise themselves. If this has been the experience of men who were not simply passive (men who were not simply waiting until religion would, some day or somehow, seize hold of them), but who were searching for religion, what substance is there in the present form of it to captivate the ordinary run of men? Our present Evangelism, as mere matter of fact, is not meeting the wants of the age.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s