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«_ A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the School of Theology Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth, Texas _ In Partial ...»

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Paternoster Press, 1979), 54-55.

“[They] went everywhere preaching the good news of the word.” M. Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, 131Green suggests that “Stephen did more for his Master in his death than he did in his life” because of the appeal his courage and faith presented to the ancient world.

B. Rapske, “Opposition to the Plan of God and Persecution,” 249.

Ibid., 250.

In a postmodern world, persecution finds its main expression in the intellectual realm. The pluralism of postmodernism disdains the absolutism of the gospel.

Persecution comes in the arena of public discourse.64 The “claim to absoluteness and exclusivity of Christianity” presents one reason for animosity toward an apostolic witness to Jesus Christ.65 This “totalizing metanarrative” remains untenable in a postmodern setting for personal evangelism. An apostolic approach, however, depends upon the “unstoppable character of Christian witness” through the direct influence and empowerment of the Spirit of truth.66

–  –  –

Personal evangelism to postmodern people demands a biblical principle of accommodation (1 Cor 9:19-23).67 D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 28-36.

Peter Lampe and Ulrich Luz, “Post-Pauline

Christianity and Pagan Society,” in Christian Beginnings:

Word and Community from Jesus to Post-Apostolic Times, ed.

Jürgen Becker, 242-80 (Louisville: Westminster / John Knox, 1993), 261.

B. Rapske, “Opposition to the Plan of God and Persecution,” 256. Furthermore, “Through such tokens as earthquakes, miraculous releases from prison and visions, the Lord gives both [H]is people, and [H]is plan which they pursue, an unqualified, ‘Yes’.” Norman Geisler, “Some Philosophical Perspectives on Missionary Dialogue,” in Theology and Mission, ed. David J. Hesselgrave (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1978), 228-45.

Leith Anderson suggests that “Paul should be seen as a skilled ethnologist who understood cultures while communicating truth.”68 Paul’s example of combining ethnology and exegesis serves as an apostolic approach in evangelizing postmodern people. Dunn suggests that “Paul allowed circumstances and situations to determine the statement of his kerygma to a considerable degree.”69

–  –  –

Witherington states, “[Paul’s] accommodating behavior has clear limits. He does not say that he became an idolator [sic] to idolators [sic] or an adulterer to adulterers. But in matters that he did not see as ethically or theologically essential or implied by the gospel, Paul believed in flexibility.”70 This concept of accommodation promotes the discovery of “common ground” between the postmodern culture and the gospel. Finding common ground, within limits, provides a bridge for personal evangelism. Such accommodation promotes a flexibility, but not compromise.

Leith Anderson, “Practice of Ministry in 21stCentury Churches” Bibliotheca Sacra 151 (October 1994): 388.

James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity, 2d ed. (London: SCM Press, 1990), 25.

Ben Witherington, III, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1995), 213.

John Frame contends that there are “some areas in which Christians may and should be like those to whom they preach, so their witness may be more effective.”71 Simply stated, a personal witness who is “open to beginning where people are, will thus discover that the unchaining of his or her own imagination is indispensable to reaching secular people.”72 As noted earlier, such common ground may be found in the postmodern search for a better story, for connection, and for a better life.73 One aspect of a better story is the postmodern desire to discover a story that overcomes the powers of evil in the world. Webber suggests that evangelism in a postmodern world proclaims that “Christ’s death is a victory over the powers of evil.”74 The common ground of connection promotes the commendable community of the church following the ethics of the apostolic community.

The church is the place of connection in a postmodern world.

John Frame, “In Defense of Something Close to Biblicism: Reflections on Sola Scriptura and History in Theological Method,” Westminster Theological Journal 59 (Fall 1997): 286.

George Hunter III, How to Reach Secular People (Nashville: Abingdon, 1992), 95.

See chapter one, “Possible Opportunities for Evangelism.” Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 150.

Craig Van Gelder suggests that effective evangelization of postmodern people demands “building communities of faith and addressing fragmentation and brokenness.”75 Finally, evangelism to postmodern people finds common ground with them as they seek a better life. As Harry Lee Poe writes, “We have nothing to offer the postmodern world in terms of organizations, programs, institutions, and structures. What we have to offer is a concrete basis for peace in a fragmented world. We have a Savior to offer... a Savior who will put their house in order.”76

–  –  –





An apostolic approach proceeds from the power of witness through the outpouring of the Spirit of truth. The Spirit of truth provides the epistemological bridge for the postmodern skepticism. The Spirit establishes community, which, in turn, creates a place of nurture, growth, and warmth in the evangelistic endeavor. The Spirit of truth further produces connection and continuity with Christ through the inspiration and illumination of Scripture.77

George Hunsberger and Craig Van Gelder, Church:

Between Gospel and Culture, The Emerging Mission in North America (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 32.

Harry Lee Poe, Christian Witness in a Postmodern World (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001), 74.

Jervell, Theology of the Acts of the Apostles, 46.

The ethic of community extends intimacy to postmodern people and provides a living testament to the veracity of the gospel proclaimed. The apostolic approach provides specific approaches to pluralities and pluralism in the postmodern world, especially in Paul’s speech at the Areopagus.

Finally, the personal evangelism in a postmodern milieu requires the witness of personal story, the spirit-filled life which overcomes the obstacles of persecution and paganism, and the pursuit of common ground with postmodern people. The contemporary church seeks to build bridges to a postmodern world through the evangelistic proclamation of the gospel.

The search for salvation and forgiveness continues in a postmodern world. Shaw summarizes the situation when he writes: “The shift to a new culture type [postmodern] does not change the human condition, merely the way it is manifest in daily living. It is in relationship... with Christ that we realize salvation.”78 The presentation of this approach possesses both weaknesses and strengths in the mind of this writer. One possible weakness of this presentation is the danger of the oversimplification of the postmodern thought and situation.

R. Daniel Shaw, “In Search of Post-Modern Salvation,” Evangelical Review of Theology 22 (1998): 59.

The reality of postmodernism is complex, with a multitude of various versions and concerns. This writer has chosen to paint broad strokes in his description of postmodernism. In such a description, the danger by which specific patterns of postmodernism are chosen to fit the argument of the thesis.

Although this writer has attempted to minimize this danger, it presents one weakness of the approach.

Secondly, the presentation of this approach may present the weakness of insufficient engagement with the complexities of postmodernism. As Erickson suggests, ministry to postmodern people requires that the contemporary church adopt some of the characteristics of postmodernism.79 This writer, however, has sought to present the “selfauthenticating character of the biblical message...

combined with a strong belief in the convicting, illuminating power of the Holy Spirit.”80 As such, there may exist at points a failure to address specific postmodern issues in an effort to maintain an overall connection with the approach for evangelization depicted in Acts and the Pauline epistles.

Thirdly, this analysis does not consider completely the current status of technology in the postmodern world.

M. Erickson, Postmodernizing the Faith, 100.

Ibid., 153.

As Leonard Sweet points out, the contemporary church must minister to the “virtual world” of postmodern people, utilizing the technological opportunities in a postmodern world.81 The relationship between technology and an apostolic approach may be fertile field for further study.

Certainly, other weaknesses of this approach occur. These three, however, present the major limitations that this dissertation presents in the mind of this writer.

–  –  –

approach center upon the strict correlation between contemporary ministry and the biblical pattern. George Peters indicates that the record of the apostolic community is the primary source for world evangelism and church growth. This record includes: 1) the Spirit as the divine Agent; 2) the apostles as the divine representatives; 3) witness as the major means; 4) Jesus Christ as the content;

and 5) the world as the object.82 The approach of this dissertation follows a similar analysis and promotes a strong connection with the biblical paradigm for evangelism.

As such, the Bible represents the authority for praxis.

Leonard Sweet, Post-Modern Pilgrims: First Century Passion for the 21st Century World (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2000), 53-83.

George W. Peters, A Theology of Church Growth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 17-18.

Furthermore, as Douglas Blount states, “If contemporary Christians are to find a paradigm suitable to the commitments of that ancient faith which they have come to embrace... it will be by resituating [sic] themselves within the spiritual tradition initiated by their ancient Christian forebears.”83 Secondly, this presentation finds strength in the community ethic. This provides a connection between postmodernism and the gospel. The community is the visible,

–  –  –

this way, the message of the gospel remains unchanged, but the community itself provides a flexible, relevant appeal to postmodern people.84 Dieter Zander notes that the authenticity of the gospel manifested in the lives of Christ’s followers attracts postmodern people to the gospel.85 It is the contention of this writer that there is no greater community in the world to which postmodern people may connect than the apostolic community in the twenty-first century.

Douglas K. Blount, “Apologetics and the Ordinances of the Church,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 43 (Spring 2001): 72.

M. Erickson, Postmodernizing the Faith, 152.

Dieter Zander, “The Gospel for Generation X,” Leadership: A Practical Journal for Church Leaders 16 (Spring 1995): 39-40.

–  –  –

In the final analysis, this presentation of an apostolic approach for the evangelization of postmodern people concludes as does the record of Acts in chapter 28.

An apostolic approach results in “a people divided over the Christian message, some believing, others unbelieving.”86 The mission, however, remains the same: “[They] went everywhere preaching the good news of the word” (Acts 8:4).

Jervell, Theology of the Acts of the Apostles, 42.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

George, Timothy. Galatians. New American Commentary.

Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1994.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Silva, Moisés. Philippians. The Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1988.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Witherington, Ben, III. Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians.

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Jackson, F. J. Foakes. “Stephen’s Speech in Acts.” Journal of Biblical Literature 49 (1930): 283-286.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Torrey, C. C. “The ‘Rest’ in Acts v. 13.” Expository Times 46 (1934-1935): 428-29.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Wills, Lawrence. “The Depiction of the Jews in Acts.” Journal of Biblical Literature 110 (1991): 631-54.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Carrier, Hervé. Evangelizing the Culture of Modernity. Faith and Culture Series. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1993.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Heck, Joel, ed. The Art of Sharing Your Faith. Grand Rapids:

Fleming H. Revell, 1991.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Van Engen, Charles. “Mission Theology in the Light of Postmodern Critique.” International Review of Mission 86 (October 1997): 437-461.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Barr, James. The Scope and Authority of the Bible.

Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Conner, W. T. Christian Doctrine. Nashville: Broadman, 1937.

________. The Cross in the New Testament. Nashville:

Broadman, 1954.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Grant, Robert M. Gods and the One God. Philadelphia:

Westminster Press, 1986.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Hirsch, E. D. Validity in Interpretation. New Haven, CT:

Yale University Press, 1967.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

________. Luke: Historian and Theologian. Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 1970.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Bartholomew, Craig G. “Babel and Derrida: Postmodernism, Language, and Biblical Interpretation.” Tyndale Bulletin 49 (November 1998): 305-328.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

________. “Paulus und die Weisheit.” New Testament Studies 12 (1966): 231-244.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Frame, John. “Christianity and Contemporary Epistemology.”

Westminster Journal of Theology 52 (Spring 1990):

131-51.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Lohse, Eduard. “Emuna und Pistis.” Zeischrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 68 (1977): 147-63.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Mercer, Calvin. “Jesus the Apostle: ‘Sending’ and the Theology of John.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 35 (December 1992): 457-62.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Theissen, Gerd. “Legitimation und Lebensunterhalt. Ein Beitrag zur Soziologie urchristlicher Missionare.” New Testament Studies 21 (1975): 192-221.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Wuest, Kenneth. “The Holy Spirit in Greek Exposition.” Bibliotheca Sacra 118 (July 1961): 216-27.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

________. Limited Inc. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1988.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Fish, Stanley. Is There a Text in This Class? Cambridge:

Harvard University Press, 1980.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

________. Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Adam, Andrew K. What Is Postmodern Biblical Criticism?

Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1995.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Borgmann, Albert. Crossing the Postmodern Divide. Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Bennahmias, Richard. “Postmodernité, Pragmatism et Théologie Chrétienne Évangélique.” Revue D’Histoire et de Philosophie Religieuses 78 (1998): 57-77.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA Bevir, Mark. “The Errors of Linguistic Contextualization.” History and Theory 31 (October 1992): 276-298.

–  –  –

Gatlin, Todd. “Postmodernism Defined at Last.” Utne Reader (July-August 1989): 52-61.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Kaufman, Gordon. “Evidentialism: A Theologian’s Response.” Faith and Philosophy 6 (1989): 35-46.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

________. “Doctrine and Ethics.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 (June 1991): 145-56.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

________. The Rise of Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Witherington, Ben, III. Women in the Earliest Churches.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

–  –  –

Kessler, Martin. “An Introduction to Rhetorical Criticism of the Bible: Prolegomena.” Semitics 7 (1980): 1-27.

Eric Thomas, Ph. D.

First Baptist Church Norfolk, VA

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