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Ordained Servant Online

A Journal for Church Officers

E-ISSN 1931-7115

Evangelism: Whose Responsibility?

Ordained Servant Cover

June / July 2009

From the Editor. The late Rev. Charles Dennison was relentless in challenging me to found my views of the Christian's duty in evangelism and culture on the text of Scripture and the confessional understanding of that text. I am pleased that my dear friend lived to see me change my views substantially in both areas. I was already convinced of the exegetical principle, which my ordination vows required me to believe. But like the proverbial pudding, the proof was in the exegesis. Shortly after I was ordained in 1980, Charlie gave me a copy of a paper he had presented to the Presbytery of Ohio that same year, "Evangelism and the Church," in which he upheld a high view of the visible church and its offices with reference to evangelism. He courageously took issue with the prevalent view that evangelism is the obligation of every believer. During the previous decade every-member evangelism had been popularized within NAPARC churches by D. James Kennedy's Evangelism Explosion (1970).

Recently my friend T. David Gordon sent me an article on the same topic, coming to a similar conclusion from a more detailed exegetical vantage point. This reminded me of the Dennison paper. So after a lengthy search, I found it in an old file on evangelism. A Dennison family inquiry turned up the fact that it had never been published. So almost three decades later, with an introduction by Pastor Dennison's brother William, and with kind permission from Charlie's wife, Ginger, I am happy to publish this thoughtful piece for our consideration. I think the two articles will help us think through this important issue and determine just where biblical responsibility lies. My hope is that it will inspire ministers of the Word to find new ways to have their message heard outside the church, and every member to take their part in supporting such evangelism. But, as my editorial also asserts, a broader understanding of the work of evangelism helps ministers see how integral the gospel is to the regular proclamation of the Word.

Also in this issue Carl Trueman reviews the latest Hart-Muether offering, Seeking a Better Country; and Alan Strange reviews Scott Clark's Recovering the Reformed Confessions. Each author has been invited to respond in the August-September issue. Stay tuned.


From the Archives: "EVANGELISM"

  • "Evangelism in the Local Church." (Ralph A. Pontier) 8:3 (Jul. 1999): 56-58.
  • "Van Til the Evangelist." (K. Scott Oliphint) 17:8 (Oct. 2008).
  • "Francis A. Schaeffer: A Unique Evangelist." (Gregory E. Reynolds) 17:8 (Oct. 2008).

Ordained Servant exists to help encourage, inform, and equip church officers for faithful, effective, and God glorifying ministry in the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its primary audience is ministers, elders and deacons of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as well as interested officers from other Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Through high quality editorials, articles, and book reviews we will endeavor to stimulate clear thinking and the consistent practice of historic Presbyterianism.

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