4 Stars Out Of 5
Good evangelism book!
August 7, 2012
Metzger seeks to lay a "theological foundation" in evangelism (22), by distinguishing between "me-centered" and "God-centered" gospel presentations (36). He asserts that the rationale of "me-centered" evangelism is to persuade people to "take the cure" but not telling them the reason they need the antidote (35). Often, a "me-centered" gospel emphasizes God's love, which is associated with words such as "nice," "tolerant," and "nonjudgmental" (39). The end result of the "me-centered" gospel is that God is too loving to ever send anyone to hell for not believing in Christ (47).
True evangelism takes place when the main objective is to glorify God (30). Glorifying God happens when the Holy Spirit is allowed to work and there is an undeniable "zeal" for God that is evident through love of others and a total reliance on Scriptures to convert (30). In "God-centered" evangelism, God is established as the "self-sufficient Creator" whose standard is perfection (57). A gospel presentation from this standpoint will result in a person's recognition of a "wrong relationship" with God, a conviction of sins, and realization that one's righteousness is not "good enough" (66). When confronted with the reality of inner desires and "secret idols," an individual has no choice but to measure his or her own self with God's standard (61).
Not only does Metzger distinguish between "me-centered" and "God-centered" gospel, but he also emphasizes that evangelism is a means of giving godly advice. He stresses that believers ought to persuade seekers to attend Christian meetings, examine sins that are preventing them from surrendering to God, and to teach them how to pray (91).
Metzger's approach to "telling the whole gospel" is meant to alleviate "partial responses" (a profession of faith in Christ but lack of obedience in the will) (92), but he never addresses how one should evangelize a person who believes him or herself to be a Christian when there is no evidence to support the profession. He did, however, provide certain questions to provoke the mind, heart, and will to respond. For instance, the answer to the question, "What has Christ done for you?" should demonstrate a person's comprehension of the gospel's main point; while the answer for "What has Christ done in you?" would reveal one's personal submission to His will (111).
The "Coming Home" gospel diagram in the appendix section of the book seems very complex (even in its simplified form) and unnecessary. Metzger attempts to "reinvent the wheel" with his version of the gospel presentation. The "Overview for Memorization" might be an easy way to remember key points of the gospel (God, sin, Jesus Christ, and one's response), but it lacks Scripture verses (both quantitative and qualitative) (235). For each point there is either one or two Biblical references that may or may not address the specific issue; such as, under "Sin=Self-Centered Living," Metzger uses John 4:4-30 and Romans 3:20 as key texts. These passages do not clarify the three implications that are made: (1) "Disobedience is sin;" (2) "sin separates you from God;" and (3) "Sin must be punished for God is just." The issue of pointing out sin should have included passages from Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23. In fact, nowhere in the presentation is it mentioned that people are born sinners and are basically "anti-God." Metzger uses softened words to discuss sin. He explains that people are "self-centered" and thus "separated from God." This is a disappointment since Metzger quotes J. I. Packer's indicators for "Conviction of Sin" earlier in the book (66). Based on the overview, a person will not have a conviction of sin unless he or she sees him or herself to be "self-centered." With that premise in mind, this presentation would not be effective for people who suffer from "low self-esteem" because though they are focusing on themselves, they would not say they are being self-centered. Overall, the book is very well written, however the "Coming Home" gospel presentation does not accurately reflect the Biblical truths contained in the book.
The illustrations and stories in the book are highly informational, while the personal inventory and questionnaires are useful to probe one's own or another's spiritual growth. Metzger's format in discussing the relevant intricacies of the gospel is evident. His updated rendition of the Prodigal Son and the Rich Young Ruler (114-17) is told in the context of his modern-day culture, allowing for the implication of the parable to penetrate the mind as well as the heart.
Metzger's purpose in writing the book was to "help Christians remember and accurately convey the gospel." He includes practical guidelines to transition conversations to the gospel. For example, when one encounters a helpful person the response is, "I really appreciate your help. What made you that way?_I feel God has called me to be helpful to others too (190)."
The appendix appears to be the most valuable aspect of the book. In this section Metzger has compiled together personal testimony prompts, characteristics of a good and bad listener, sample schedule for evangelism training, and a twelve-session study guide. Metzger not only accomplishes the reason for writing his book but he goes beyond by helping Christians make disciples. This idea of equipping believers to make disciples is a culmination of his closing statement in the prefaceâ€” "Together, let us make God's name famous."