Contend Earnestly: John Stott and The Way of the Master

Friday, January 30, 2009

John Stott and The Way of the Master

I am currently reading Christian Mission in the Modern World by John Stott and have come across something that makes me wonder what Stott thinks of such forms of evangelism as "The Way of the Master." I used to really like The Way of the Master, but have turned to questions its methods. I wasn't sure why, and I know that most of those who are using it do love Jesus and want to do the will of Him. But, I think Stott nailed it on the head. He wrote this book in 1975 but InterVarsity Press has an updated version, and when I am done this book will get a very positive review as it is needed to be read by both the Emergent streams and IFB streams of what some call "Christianity." To give you some context, Stott is walking the reader through true Christian dialogue with non-Christians and what we should refrain from and what we should also purport. Here is the quote, which is the fourth point that Stott makes about true dialogue:

Fourth, true dialogue is a mark of sensitivity. Christian evangelism falls into disrepute when it degenerates into stereotypes. It is impossible to evangelize by fixed formulae. To force a conversation along predetermined lines in order to reach a predetermined destination is to show oneself grievously lacking in sensitivity both to the actual needs of our friend and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Such insensitivity is therefore a failure in both faith and love. Dialogue, however, to quote from Canon Max Warren "is in its very essence an attempt at mutual 'listening,' listening in order to understand. Understanding is its reward" (from unpublished paper entitled "Presence and Proclamation," read at a European Consultation on Mission Studies in April 1968). It is at this point which was picked up in the Lausanne Covenant, which contains two references to dialogue. On the one hand it says firmly that we "reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies (para. 3). But on the other it says with equal firmness that "that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand" is actually "indispensable to evangelism" (para. 4). The principle was stated centuries ago in the book of Proverbs: "If one gives answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame" (Proverbs 18:13)

John Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World, pp. 110-111


Jake said...

Glad you're rethinking WotM bro, their intentions are good, but I think they end up doing a ton of damage with their rigidity and scripted approach to evangelism.

Kevin Williams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Williams said...

Brother, I don't know if you've seen this, but in the Q&A at the end of this Bible Study Tim Conway addresses Way of the Master and its problems. Some very good points.

Seth McBee said...


Yeah...I have been thinking a lot lately about effective evangelism that is faithful to the Scriptures...WOTM has me worried on some of these points that I will probably give more thought on in a blog post.


Thanks for the comment. I know that you were/are devoted to WOTM...correct?

I will definitely listen to your provided link and would love to discuss further with you.

Thanks for the comments guys.


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