Interesting discussion with Ligon Duncan on evangelism...
Ligon makes the case that our evangelism has become detached from the church. In the Biblical context evangelism is done in the context of the local church, making disciples, baptizing them, teaching them all are done within the local church body. Lone wolf evangelists in the house church movement don’t seem to get this, really what is the point of a conversation with someone you never see again? I am firmly convinced that our evangelism should be direct and focused, but should also seek to drive people into the church to hear the Gospel preached from the Word of God, by a man of God.
It is not a very long conversation and the first half is really taken up with a conversation about where Ligon Duncan has been and what he has been doing, but the second half is really good stuff. He gives a quick, solid, Reformed view of soteriology translated into evangelism. I think the reason a lot of personal and corporate evangelism is so decision based, even by people who subscribe to Reformed theology, is that many of us (myself included) have failed to spend adequate time really working out the ramifications and the theology behind salvation, as well as the Biblical record of how the disciples evangelized. Acts is not just a fun history of the apostles in the time immediately following the ascension, but rather in a historical narrative it puts into practice the theology that we hold. Throughout the New Testament epistles and letters we see recorded historical events that hold practical ramifications for believers. The Lord instituted the supper, how does that look for the church? The Lord commanded baptism, how did the church carry that out? By immersion to those who confessed Christ. What about elders? The record seems to indicate a plurality of elders in the local church. These are not random asides that exist in a vacuum but are specific examples that demonstrate for real people in real churches how real doctrine should exist.
If you subscribe to the Biblical doctrines of election and predestination, you know that not a single one of God’s elect will fail to be saved. That is not a disincentive to evangelism, but rather an encouragement to Biblical evangelism. I agree with Dr. Duncan that proper Biblical evangelism is done in the context of the body of Christ, the gathering of the saints, the local church. Again the myriad failures of God’s people to properly run the church don’t mean that we should abandon the church wholesale, but that we should reform the church so that the saints who gather are fed with the Word and those who visit hear the Gospel preached unashamedly, confronted with their sins.