Every once in a while I have the pleasure of reading a book that I can honestly class as being amongst the best in the particular field it seeks to address. R.B. Kuiper’s book God-Centred Evangelismis certainly one of them. It is one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of missions and evangelism, and I wanted to recommend it to anyone concerned about those critical issues.
Right from the start Kuiper admits that the theology he is writing about is unabashedly Reformed, and he makes the bold claim that not only is Reformed theology the system of doctrine that he believes the Bible teaches, but that Reformed theology is the best and most consistent theology for evangelism! This is obviously not a claim that many Arminians would agree with, but in my humble opinion Kuiper ably proves his statement to be true.
He begins by framing Evangelism in terms of its roots in eternity, in the Covenant of Redemption and the plan of salvation entered into by the members of the Triune Godhead. Then throughout most of the rest of his book, Kuiper shows how in evangelism as in redemption, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are working together to bring about the salvation of the elect. By speaking of evangelism as the means God has ordained for bringing about the conversion of His people, Kuiper puts our reason and motivation for evangelism where it belongs – in the sovereignty of God. I found this approach in particular to be a breath of fresh air. Too many books I have read on evangelism are patently uncomfortable with the issue of God’s sovereignty and seem to either dance around the subject or ignore it completely. They focus instead on programs and methods, with appeals being made to scriptures merely as proof texts for such and such an approach to converting unbelievers. Kuiper will have none of this and shows how Calvinism, when properly understood and practiced, is actually a mandate for evangelism and missions.
Another emphasis of Kuiper’s I particularly enjoyed was his willingness to speak of evangelism as something the Church, and not merely individual Christians, engages in. All too often books on evangelism speak of the Church as either a hindrance to evangelism or as merely the means of equipping individuals to do the work of an evangelist or missionary. Kuiper shows how evangelism is central to the work of the Church as a body and he does not play down the vital role of the individual believer as a part of the church, or of the necessity of spreading the Church and not merely the message.
If I may let me briefly list some of the other strengths of this book I particularly enjoyed in bullet format:
·How Evangelism operates in the context of the Covenant and the place of Covenant Children
·Emphasis on the Reality of Hell as a motivation for Evangelism
·A willingness to tackle the offensiveness of the Gospel head-on
·Overall emphasis on the work of the three members of the Godhead in Redemption
·Emphasis on the necessity of a theological basis for evangelism and missions
·Concrete explanations of how the church is to be about the business of spreading the gospel
·A willingness to explain what the gospel the church is to be spreading is and is not (it’s amazing how many modern books on evangelism don’t do this!)