Selling Jesus?

Having been a salesman and also an evangelist, I have attended training for both those roles. I must say that the approaches were disturbingly similar. Evangelism seemed to me to look like some sort of sales pitch for Jesus as the best saviour. These reflections on the Trinity should deeply affect the way we act and think: our mission and theology. It should also throw light on our evangelism or evangelisation.

I finished yesterday’s post by speaking of an invitation to be part of the divine life. This raises the whole issue of the verbal communication of the Gospel and the trinitarian consequences for that communication. Again, my friend Míguez Bonino gives some ideas.

A truly trinitarian evangelisation—just as a truly trinitarian worship and action—is the invitation to participate in faith in the very life of the triune God and hence in totality of what God has done, is doing and will do to fulfil God’s purpose of “being all in all” (Faces of Latin American Protestantism, p. 144).

If Míguez Bonino is right then this should affect our evangelistic efforts. The packaged methodologies of many evangelistic theories are a travesty of God’s invitation to humanity. The reductionist “you’ll go to heaven when you die so come to Jesus and pray the sinners’ prayer” doesn’t come close to the magnificent offer of communion with the divine. Come and take part in divine being and purpose to fill all things is a far cry from many courses on evangelism I have attended.

This should also affect our understanding of the church: our ecclesiology.  In this sense the Eastern Orthodox, when they speak of the church as the “icon of the Trinity” are right. The word “icon” was used for the impression of Caesar’s head on Roman coins: the likeness.  The invitation to take part in the divine life is also an invitation to be part of this dusty, rusty old thing we call the church. With all its faults, the church is God’s likeness in the world.

Finally, this should affect the way we think of the end times: our eschatology. Evangelism is not the means by which Jesus Christ, emulating the Greek gods’, fills his personal Olympus with elevated souls. It is the means by which God will fulfil his end game, God’s purpose: to be All in All for humanity.

We can share in this, which is highly recommended if you don’t. It is also a challenge for those of us who are sharing in the divine experience, to live it out and share it with others.