Tuesday, November 29, 2005

'The New Evangelism' II

Towards a New Evangelism

Drummond's blend of Christianity and Darwinism is well known, we shall not deal with it here. Our subject is a lesser-known work of Drummond which is, to me, the most interesting of his books. It was published posthumously, and its title is The New Evangelism (London, Hodder, no date). The book contains a number of essays and addresses by Drummond, relating to evangelism. They open a window on Drummond's thoughts, particularly the paper which gives the work its name, The New Evangelism.
The thesis of the paper is simple: The Church's old methods of evangelism were not working - the numbers attending Church were high, but the proportion of the population attending was falling. What was going wrong? The Churches were evangelizing, but it was not working as it ought to. The Church needed to develop a New Evangelism.
Henry Drummond did not pretend to offer a finished product - it was a 'work in progress', a process going on in the Church.

What is a 'New Evangelism'?
"The particular substance and form of evangel which is adapted to the present state of men's minds. the new Evangelism, in a word, is the Gospel for the age... of course we do not want a new evangel, we state that out at once; but an Evangelism is a different thing, and we do want that; we want that at the present hour, almost above any reform of our time." (P. 4)
Drummond goes on to describe the decline of 'vital religion' which is the reason for this need, then offers a diagnosis:
"What is the cause of this decline in vital religion? Why is the Gospel not reaching the Age? Because it is not the Gospel for the age, it is the Gospel for a former age." (P. 7)

"The very nature of truth demands from time to time a new evangelism," Drummond said. What he meant was, however, that since theology had changed, methods of evangelism should change too.

God willing we shall unpack that a little in our next post

(Illustrated: Free Church College, Glasgow, where Drummond taught)



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