Geisler advocates pre-evangelism in postmodern world
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Christian apologist and professor Norman Geisler said believers must proclaim the changeless truth of Scripture even amid changing times. Geisler, distinguished professor of apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, Calif., delivered his message to an overflow crowd at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s “Sola Scriptura or Sola Cultura?” conference, April 14.
Geisler, who has authored and co-authored more than 70 books and hundreds of articles during his 50 years as a professor, stated Christians now live in a post-modern world saturated by relativism, pluralism and naturalism, void of a theistic worldview.
In discussing the need for what he calls “pre-evangelism,” Geisler said, “There cannot be a Son of God—which we proclaim— or a word of God—on which we base it—or miraculous acts of God or salvation from God if God doesn’t exist.
“Our message doesn’t make sense other than in the context of a theistic God, the God of Genesis 1:1, a God who is beyond the world, who created the world. Apart from a theistic God, we have no message. Now, that raises a very serious problem for missions. How can we evangelize non-theists when our whole message depends on establishing first the viability of theism?”
Geisler noted that cultures around the world with a theistic worldview have historically been more open to the Gospel, and yet missionaries to regions that hold a non-theistic worldview must learn to pre-evangelize.
“In order to do pre-evangelism in a post-modern world, you have to be able to relate to relativism, pluralism and naturalism,” Geisler said. “The problem is we’re preaching an absolute message in a relative age, and we’re also preaching an exclusivistic message in a pluralistic age.”
During his lecture, Geisler offered advice on addressing these three worldviews, which are antithetical to Christianity. He provided responses to skeptics who claim relative truth, espouse multiple paths to God and reject miraculous events. He encouraged Christians to point out the contradictory nature of their beliefs.
“You can’t deny absolute truth without setting up an absolute truth,” Geisler said. “The relativist stands on the pinnacle of his own absolute and relativizes everything else.”
Along with Geisler, faculty from Southwestern gave lectures on carrying out the Great Commission amid shifting worldviews. Geisler praised Southwestern president Paige Patterson for his courage to battle for the cause of fidelity to the Scriptures.
“I’m honored to be here tonight, and especially honored to be speaking along with Dr. Patterson,” Geisler said. “I honestly believe that when the history of the 20th century church is written, he will go down as the Martin Luther of evangelicalism who brought us back to the fundamental of the faith called the inerrancy of the Scripture. I don’t know anyone with more courage, more character, and more conviction—the three vanishing Cs in our society—than Dr. Patterson.”
Patterson delivered an exposition on Daniel 1-2, noting the examples of Daniel and his three friends as men of God who impacted a culture hostile to the Gospel. Other faculty lecturers included Terry Wilder, Keith Eitel and Malcolm Yarnell, who addressed issues related to missions, contextualization, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Great Commission Resurgence and other global theological voices.