I’m only going to be posting once a week starting this Saturday. My excuse? Paul’s urban strategy: the apostle spent most of his time as an evangelist in the major cities from which his new gospel could spread most widely. Before I explain my decision, I’d like to share some notes and quotes from Michael Green’s outstanding book, Evangelism in the Early Church, whose cover graces this post.
Given the many factors that facilitate the spread of a new message of salvation, the way was “wide open for the rapid dissemination of opinions whose advocates were sufficiently courageous, persistent, and self-sacrificial” (257). The messages were diverse, but they agree about following Jesus. The danger of becoming argumentative was noted by Origin, who did not want anyone to stumble because of what he might say or do: “Sometimes we think we are confuting someone, and we speak ill-advisedly, and become aggressive and argumentative as we endeavor to win our case no matter what expressions we use.”
The early Christian evangelists took advantage of the culture’s amenities and built on its philosophical progress. They satisfied the deep needs to which competing religions appealed: cleansing from guilt, security through oneness with God, and immortality. In contrast with religious or social practices of discrimination, they offered a community of fellowship within which “all men are brothers, and distinctions of race, sex, education, and wealth meant nothing” (26).
The idea of Jesus’ new family as a kingdom was easy to misunderstand and dangerous in the Roman Empire, so kingdom language was dropped . . . and Jesus became the content of their message (51, 115-17).
The term euanggelion, “good news,” was “the word used par excellence to announce victory, victory over hostile forces, and, derivatively, of the thank-offerings given to the gods in gratitude for such victory” (especially in the cult of the Emperor). 56
My decision to shift to one post per week follows a recent conversation with a publisher friend, Byron Belitsos at Origin Press. Byron told me the kinds of work I need to be doing to get my message out effectively. Blogging does not in most cases rank high on the current list of methods of outreach. So I’m shifting emphasis. In time I expect this website to support some of these additional functions.
It’s not that my love for you is less. On the contrary, my love for you has grown to new heights recently. Tune in Saturday for details.