Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Welcome!

Welcome to The Informed Evangelist. I hope that you are here because you love the Lord with all of your heart (enough to obey the Great Commission) and you love your neighbor as yourself (so that you will have enough guts to obey said Commission). My goal with this blog is to encourage a love of reading the printed word, mainly because we are not only commanded to love the Lord with our hearts, but also with our minds. Since there is no intellectual development apart from reading, the goal of this blog is to provide inspiration towards becoming not just a passionate biblical evangelist, but a properly informed biblical evangelist. An evangelist who loves God with his or her mind.

As a former pastor of thirteen years, a biblical evangelist of almost four years, and a used bookseller of about thirteen years I am shocked and awed by the lack of intelligent reading material in the homes of most Christians. This lack has nothing to do with the abundance of public libraries (at least here in the USA) which provide books for free. I am no scholar in the area of literacy, but it's safe to say that most Americans don't read for the following reasons:

  • The predominant role that television plays in American culture.
  • They were taught to hate reading by the public school system.
  • Parents do not read to their children.
  • The general "dumbing down" of America.
  • The continued growth of the internet as the main source of knowledge.
Christians are victims of all of the same societal scourges, but you can add a couple of bullet points for us:

  • A suspicion of anything "intellectual".
  • The dreck that is marketed to us as literature via the big Christian publishers and mini-big box Christian bookstores.
How ironic that Christians, people who it could be rightly said are people of one Book (the Bible), do not read! Most of us do not read even the one divinely inspired Book which distinguishes us from every other religion and cult, much less anything else which might help us understand or apply that Book.

As I see it, there is hope. Those of us who are turned on to biblical evangelism from sources such as Way of the Master (and others) come to the table with the same cultural deficiencies. Fortunately, as believers move beyond the TV program and pick up some of Ray Comfort's books they discover the joy of reading. They see authors and preachers that he cites and they begin reading books by these men and women. Reading becomes a life-line for newly discovered ideas about theology and evangelism.

The "con" in this situation is that most popular biblical evangelism resources are online. Many of these new biblical evangelists don't depend on the printed word, but on what they can glean digitally using Google and "cut and paste". This isn't the same thing (by a long shot) as reading. The proof lies in the mangled use of the English language they use when they write. Readers generally become fairly good writers, even if they are not formally taught grammar or style.

My hope is that this blog serves to point biblical evangelists in the direction of good, theologically sound reading. This will help us move beyond the habit of parroting popular evangelists and become original thinkers and communicators of the magnificent Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. May He be glorified.

2 comments:

Ron said...

Jon I agree with you about the places we get our reading material in that they are not in book form a lot of times. But I spend a lot of time on the computer and have to admit the reason I do is because of the buckets treasure I have found on the web concerning Christ. Books are great but text in many forms allows someone like me to actually read more. Stuck in traffic I'll read something printed of the web. At work where certain books would catch the eye of human resources, something in electronic form will suffice during a break. Too, the preaching of a pastor captured on a website is invigorating. Lost Cause Ministries depends greatly on the web to get the word out. I no longer need to own a lot of books I can't afford, the www has them for sale at an extremely discounted price.
Ok, TV isn't needed, video's, and stuff.
This isn't a defense of the www, just another way to look at the importance of it. Just ask those who live in China who can't get the books we cherish but may have a way to view the web/email.
Besides I wanted to post the first one on your web log. I can always start an argument on anything.
Ron Martinez

Jon Speed said...

Ron,

I agree with you about the advantages of the web. It definitely has many "pros" when it comes to ease of access. Google books is making available some scarce texts for free unavailable elsewhere, for example.

My contention is that we can't allow the internet age to lead to the demise of the use of the printed word because the practice of cutting and pasting ones theology is not the same as studying theology in a serious fashion.

I think that both can be used; they are not exclusive. But I do think that it has to start with the printed word.

Jon