Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: The Way of the Master Evangelism Model

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Way of the Master Evangelism Model

Perhaps you have been watching television late at night and suddenly flipped across what appeared to be Kirk Cameron interviewing random people on the street about their lives. After getting over the initial shock of seeing Mike Seaver on TBN, the content of the evangelism approach is rather interesting, and should be noted, growing in popularity.

This model that I am about to describe is called "The Way of the Master" and it is simply a method headed by Kirk Cameron and evangelist Ray Comfort to quickly and easily share the Gospel. This "evangelism ministry" created in 2002 has been increasing in it's presence on the television, internet, and church training. Here is the basic rundown of this particular model.

The Way of the Master uses the ten commandments to enlighten a person of their sin and failure to live up to God's holy standard. This is done using the letters WDJD (similar to the popular WWJD, but instead of What Would Jesus Do, they changed the idea to What Did Jesus Do?) According to The Way of the Master, the best evangelism model is to use what Jesus used and they understand that to be a utilization of the ten commandments. Basically, this is the process:
1. Ask the person if they believe they are a good person. (Usually they will say "yes.")
2. Ask they person if they have ever told a lie. (Usually they will say "yes.")
3. Ask the person what that makes them. (After some help, they will say "a liar")
4. This is repeated with questions like "have you ever stolen anything" and "have you ever lusted after a person" which leads to "you are a thief" and "you are an adulterer."
5. Ask the person, "based on what you just said, if you were to die today, do you think you would go to heaven or hell?" (With some help, they will say hell)
6. Ask the person, "Does that concern you?"

Basically, that is it. The process involves bringing out the fact that every person, although typically a good person, has committed sin and has therefore fallen short of God's standard and is destined to hell. Here are my quick thoughts.

The strength of this model is in the attempt to bring a person to their understanding of sin. After all, why would anyone need a savior if they were doing just fine on their own? Although I am not sure my personality would fit in too well with calling someone a liar and thief 4 minutes after I have met them, the basic idea of shedding some light on their condition is good. Today's culture does not rest on the understanding of clear right and wrong, so I appreciate that effort from this model.

But for me, that is where the strengths end. The foundational flaw is using the hermeneutic of the ten commandments to "prove" their sin before God. There is a two-fold problem with this starting point. First, to imply that our breaking of one of the commandments is what puts us at odds with God is Scripturally weak. The issue is an understanding of the transmission of sin. One view, often called a semi-pelagian or Arminian view, believes that a person is by nature corrupted because of Adam, but not guilty. Whatever has been "messed up" with the human nature because of Adam's failure in the garden does not make us culpable, but does make us unable to keep God's commands because of our corrupt/depraved nature. We only become guilty at the moment of our first sin, which will inevitably happen because of our corrupt nature. The other view, developed mostly after the reformers, understands Adam to serve as a federal/representative head of the human race. Therefore, as soon as human beings exist, we are struck with condemnation (guilt) and depravity (pollution/corruption). There is an immediate imputation of Adam’s guilt to those whom he represented as the head of the covenant. You can see the difference. So, if you favor the first model, which I do not, then The Way of the Master method can still settle well with you. When we tell that first lie or whatever, then we are guilty before God, which was going to happen because of our depraved nature. But, if you hold to the second view, which I do, then this becomes a little problematic. The fact is that we are not found guilty before God just because of those lies we have told. Yes, we are responsible for them and they show our continued guilt, but we are found guilty before God at birth, by our very nature. This is why Paul writes in Ephesians 2:3 that we "are by nature children of wrath." I don't completely discredit this method because of this issue, but I just don't want a person to whom I am sharing the Gospel to think that they actually had a shot at remaining innocent before God, which is not what the Arminian model says, but that thought could easily set in with the unbeliever who hears this model. Also, it seems to imply that since I chose to sin and made myself guilty before God, I now choose to become innocent once again. We do not choose God, God chooses us. We still have a role to play, yes, but God chooses us.

Secondly, the model relies heavily on the old covenant law with the ten commandments and spends very little time on the new covenant teaching of the cross of Christ, the resurrection, and grace. In fact, it could be argued this is not a gospel presentation model at all, but a lesson in understanding that we are sinners.

But enough critiquing. I am excited that Kirk Cameron is willing to take on the criticism of Hollywood and anyone else to proclaim Christ and reach the lost. I do think we need to be careful with what we teach and preach, but he is at least out there and I am certain that people are coming to profess Christ through their evangelistic efforts. This is not the model I would personally choose, but whether you love this model or something else, just speak the name Jesus.


Blogger Kelly Klages said...

"Evangelism model." That's kind of a funny term, isn't it?

I personally tend to think of WWJD? in terms of Law-- that's "Jesus the Good Example" at work. WDJD?, as far as *saving* us by dying on the cross for us-- that should be Gospel. As far as Jesus interacting with people goes, I see him giving the full weight of the Law to those who were secure in their own righteousness, and delivering the Gospel to those who were in despair of their sins. Not being Jesus myself, I don't know about the walking up to random people and professing to know anything about them or where they're at. Besides, I'd think it might take a *lot* of help to get them to think of themselves as hell-bound for telling a few lies and such.

But yeah, people need both the Law and the Gospel. God still uses those things for Christians to bring us to repentance and strengthen our faith. If what you've described in those steps really is the "evangelism model," you're right-- where's the Evangel?

April 06, 2007 11:56 PM  

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