Saturday, February 19, 2000
Baptist leader confronts fundamental evangelism
By LORETTA FULTON
Senior Staff Writer
Fundamentalists who practice confrontational evangelism are
giving all Christians a bad name, a speaker said Friday during
a missions conference at Hardin-Simmons University.
All Christians get smeared by the same brush, said
Dr. Keith Parks, a former missionary to Indonesia.
A better way to evangelize, he said, is to build relationships
and show people, as well as tell them, about the gospel of Jesus
I believe Jesus chose the gracious, relational way,
said Parks, who recently retired as global missions coordinator
for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Southern Baptists have been much in the news recently for their
efforts at evangelizing non-Christians, particularly Jews and
Hindus. Recently, when Mormons held an open house at a new temple
in North Carolina, a group of Southern Baptists stood at the exit
ramp and passed out pamphlets titled, Are Mormon Temples
Christian? The Baptist answer was, No.
That kind of evangelism is not what Jesus taught, Parks said
following his address in Logsdon Chapel at HSU.
You can do it in the context of building relationships
rather than beating them over the head with the gospel,
Parks said. I dont think Jesus did that.
Parks said Christians are commanded to evangelize, but they
sometimes misinterpret the biblical meaning of the word. Evangelize
literally means to proclaim, not to convert, he said.
The end result of evangelism hopefully will be conversion,
Parks said, but the thrust of it should be to share or proclaim
the gospel message of Jesus.
Conversion is a positive response to evangelism,
Parks was among the speakers during the daylong conference
that culminated a week of missions emphasis at Hardin-Simmons.
Earlier in the week, the annual Cornerstone Series featured speakers
from various mission fields. On Thursday, the new Connally Missions
Center was dedicated.
Parks said he doesnt disagree with his more fundamentalist
Southern Baptist brethen, including the president of the Southern
Baptist Convention, Hardin-Simmons graduate Paige Patterson. He
just disagrees with their methods.
Attitude and approach is the main difference I have with
some of the things going on, he said.
Calling fundamentalism an unfortunate sign of the times,
Parks said that approach condemns and tears down the views of
others rather than presenting a Christians convictions in
a positive way.
Prior to Parks talk, Dr. William R. OBrien spoke
on new missions models.
A Hardin-Simmons graduate, OBrien is also a former missionary
to Indonesia and former executive vice president of the Foreign
Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
OBrien said collaboration, the last frontier of
missions, will be the model of the future. Missionaries
of various denominations must work together, he said, and they
must include indigenous people in their efforts.
The church is facing a tough road, he said, but it is up to
Twenty-first century missions will provide the largest
challenge and hardest work the church has ever known, OBrien
predicted. But the church is bigger than you think.
Loretta Fulton can be reached at 676-6778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abilene Reporter-News / Texnews / E.W. Scripps Publications