The Merits of the Role of the Evangelist

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Baptist_Pastor/Theologian, Sep 18, 2006.

  1. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

    Baptist_Pastor/Theologian
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    Some may argue that the office of the evangelist is not biblically mandated and therefore is not valid. It seems to me that just because the office is not biblically mandated that does not invalidate the role of the evangelist. If that were the case then we would need to give all of our Sunday school teachers a pink slip next Sunday.

    The only offices that I am clearly convinced are biblically mandated are the offices of pastor/elder and deacon. Each of these two offices are given titles that also function as descriptors. The office of pastor is referred to as overseer, elder, and shepherd. The office of deacon is referred to as servant. In a similar way the role of the evangelist is referred to as one of proclaiming the gospel or a good news message. While the office may not enjoy the same level of prominence in the NT, I cannot help but believe that God has ordained men with a special role that we have come to understand as an evangelist.

    Who here would deny that Billy Graham is ordained of God? Granted many of the evangelists of more recent years are of a more Arminian or Wesleyan type of theological leaning, which you may suggest is an importation of another hot bed into this discussion but I do not think that to be the case. In the First Great Awakening the primary impetus came from a Reformed perspective. The Second Great Awakening merged the efforts of both Wesleyan and Reformed theological perspectives. Today, most itinerant evangelists are influenced by an Arminian theological perspective.

    Why am I bringing the C word into this discussion? Because I think that there is a great disparity in what true revival constitutes from each camp, for one. Secondly, the matter of bringing in an outside preacher who comes in and preaches theology from a perspective other than our own is concerning for each side. Imagine a mostly Arminian church hearing about the divine decree in election and the predestination of some to salvation and others to perdition. Or the reverse, imagine a church from a Reformed perspective hearing an evangelist preach that millions of people are going to die and go to hell if you do not do something about it or all you need to do is decide for yourself about Jesus, and that it is entirely up to you.

    In the truest since there is one gospel, but there are diversities within the church in terms of how that gospel is to impact our church. The evangelist is not so much about Christ and Culture as it is about Church Culture.

    The second thing, as if that were not enough, is that the role of the evangelist is like the role of the pastor in many ways. I once interviewed with a church that had it stated plainly in the job description that it was the pastor sole duty to win the lost to Christ. I took the opportunity to educate the search committee that in fact it was every Christians responsible and charge to win the lost to Christ. I believe that the problem with the role of the evangelist is that it gives the church the idea that we bring in someone to do our evangelism. Let's say that we do it twice a year, well then we are really doing a good job then. How about four times a year? Why not? If twice a year is good, why is four not better? If our role as a church is to win the lost and if we have people get saved at these meetings, then why would we not have at least a minimum of four a year?

    My concern about the role of the evangelist is that his role is not longer pressing. We live in an age where the traditional mode of the SBC, according to my pastoral experience, has been geared toward harvesting. As SBC members we are by nature harvesters. However, I fear we are attempting to reap where we have not sown. The most pressing need for today is not harvesters but sowers. Therefore if someone where to come to my church, I would not be interested in bringing in a crackerjack preacher who has the ability to invoke emotion. I think we need to be exposed to substantive biblical theology.

    I would say the church is need of repentance, but I fear it is the leadership of the SBC and the majority of pastors out there that are in need of being preached to. If our leadership took seriously their mandate from Scripture I believe that the church would naturally assume a missional posture. If we all did our part and functioned biblically we may only need to bring in someone twice a year to get our batteries recharged. As it is I am afraid that we are missing the great need, which is a missional transformation of our own church culture.
     
    #1 Baptist_Pastor/Theologian, Sep 18, 2006
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  2. baptistblogger

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    The Biblical Legitimacy of the Office of the Evangelist

    The word "evangelist" is so frequently used today it is surprising to learn that the term is rarely defined in evangelistic literature. An investigation into the scriptural usage of the word reveals that it is employed only 3 times in the New Testament (Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:5). A study of those passages is essential to any biblical understanding of the nature and work of evangelists in the life of the early Church.

    In all three biblical occurrences, the evangelist was subordinate to the apostles. Philip (Acts 21:8) was under the authority of the apostles as one of the seven (cf. Acts 6:1-6). In Eph. 4:11 the evangelists were only mentioned after the apostles and prophets. Timothy (2 Tim. 2:5) was a pupil of Paul, and not an apostle.

    First, in Acts 21:8, reference is made to "Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven." This title comes upon the reader without warning and with no explanation. There is no hint in the context as to why or how Philip acquired the title of evangelist. One can only theorize at this point.

    Second, in Eph 4:11 the evangelist is listed with other titles which are commonly held to be offices in the church. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the evangelist may also have been an office. Though this association is somewhat helpful to our understanding, there is not one word in the context which describes the nature or function of an evangelist. All that can be concluded thus far is that "evangelist" is the title of an office and that Philip held it.

    Third, at 2 Tim 4:5 Paul exhorts Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist." The absence of the article is deemed significant by some of commentators while being ignored altogether by others. Homer Kent writes, "In this charge to Timothy, the absence of an article before `evangelist' indicates the type or quality of work is being stressed, rather than some official position." If one follows Kent's reasoning, the phrase would be better translated, "do evangelistic work." Why not use euaggelizomai as he did so often in his writing? Why go to such a rare word to express such a common idea? If "do the work of an evangelist" is simply a way for Paul to tell Timothy to "do evangelistic work," then why did Paul only employ this terminology with Timothy. The rare use of euaggelistes in the Pauline vocabulary would suggest a technical use. Therefore, it is probably a reference to an office, or at least, to a special function.

    From the biblical material, we can surmise that "evangelist" is the title of an office which Philip and Timothy held. Both men were subordinate to the Apostles. Although in Acts eight, Philip preceded the Apostles into Samaria, he had to await the arrival of the Apostles Peter and John before his hearers could receive the Holy Spirit. Timothy was sent back to the churches already established by the Apostle Paul. Timothy was given his charge by the Apostle Paul and took his directions from him.

    With this in mind, the evangelist may have been a special office that was exclusively used by the apostles either to begin new churches or to ground churches already established by the apostles. If this is true, then the evangelists' perpetuity would be inextricably linked to that of the apostles themselves.

    In summary one can only approximate the concept of the biblical evangelist. The paucity of biblical material and the wide differences in scholarly opinion militate against dogmatic conclusions in this area. However, some things can be affirmed.

    First, the evangelist is listed with other offices at Eph. 4:11. Second, Philip and Timothy had this title ascribed to them. Third, both of these men were subordinate to the apostles and seemed to assist them in their missionary efforts: Philip going before the apostles to establish a church, and Timothy coming after the apostles to ground a church in doctrine. Fourth, no qualifications for this office were given in the Scripture. The lack of biblical qualifications casts a shadow over the perpetuity of the office in the ecclesiastical order of the post-apostolic church. Fifth, most of the scholarship refuses to identify the biblical evangelist with the modern concept, and much of the scholarship affirms the temporariness of the office. With these facts in mind, it is highly probably that the evangelist described in the Bible may not exist today, and if he does, he is probably functioning as a missionary rather than a "revival meeting" preacher.
     
  3. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    Biblical Role of the Evangelist

    Another issue that deserves consideration is whether we are to discern anything about the role of the evangelist from the specific sequence in which the groups of gifted men are listed in these few examples. Paul's list in Eph. 4:11 has taken over three categories from 1 Cor. 12:28 "first apostles, second prophets, third teachers," and added two, evangelists and pastors, that occur nowhere else in Paul's writings. However, to imply that Paul's listing of gifted men in Eph. 4:11 represents a clearly intended hierarchy of importance or authority probably infers too much from this one passage.
     
  4. John of Japan

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    I disagree. The Biblical evangelist was not a church planting missionary. In fact, after Philip saw great results through his evangelism, who came in to actually establish the church in Samaria? Two apostles, Peter and John. In the meantime, Philip went off to win the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ.

    I think an excellent Biblical case can be made for: (1) the evangelist as a specialist in evangelism and revival, used of God to stir up the church, and (2) the office of apostle as church-planting missionary.

    What scholarship are you talking about that refuses to identify the Biblical evangelist with the modern one? Sources, please. In my experience, there is little or no scholarly work done in this area. The statement is usually just made in the commentaries, "The evangelist was an itinerant missionary," or something similar, with no proof given.
     
  5. saturneptune

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    Some may argue that the office of the evangelist is not biblically mandated and therefore is not valid. It seems to me that just because the office is not biblically mandated that does not invalidate the role of the evangelist. If that were the case then we would need to give all of our Sunday school teachers a pink slip next Sunday.

    The only offices that I am clearly convinced are biblically mandated are the offices of pastor/elder and deacon. Each of these two offices are given titles that also function as descriptors. The office of pastor is referred to as overseer, elder, and shepherd. The office of deacon is referred to as servant. In a similar way the role of the evangelist is referred to as one of proclaiming the gospel or a good news message. While the office may not enjoy the same level of prominence in the NT, I cannot help but believe that God has ordained men with a special role that we have come to understand as an evangelist.

    Who here would deny that Billy Graham is ordained of God? Granted many of the evangelists of more recent years are of a more Arminian or Wesleyan type of theological leaning, which you may suggest is an importation of another hot bed into this discussion but I do not think that to be the case. In the First Great Awakening the primary impetus came from a Reformed perspective. The Second Great Awakening merged the efforts of both Wesleyan and Reformed theological perspectives. Today, most itinerant evangelists are influenced by an Arminian theological perspective.

    Why am I bringing the C word into this discussion? Because I think that there is a great disparity in what true revival constitutes from each camp, for one. Secondly, the matter of bringing in an outside preacher who comes in and preaches theology from a perspective other than our own is concerning for each side. Imagine a mostly Arminian church hearing about the divine decree in election and the predestination of some to salvation and others to perdition. Or the reverse, imagine a church from a Reformed perspective hearing an evangelist preach that millions of people are going to die and go to hell if you do not do something about it or all you need to do is decide for yourself about Jesus, and that it is entirely up to you.

    In the truest since there is one gospel, but there are diversities within the church in terms of how that gospel is to impact our church. The evangelist is not so much about Christ and Culture as it is about Church Culture.

    The second thing, as if that were not enough, is that the role of the evangelist is like the role of the pastor in many ways. I once interviewed with a church that had it stated plainly in the job description that it was the pastor sole duty to win the lost to Christ. I took the opportunity to educate the search committee that in fact it was every Christians responsible and charge to win the lost to Christ. I believe that the problem with the role of the evangelist is that it gives the church the idea that we bring in someone to do our evangelism. Let's say that we do it twice a year, well then we are really doing a good job then. How about four times a year? Why not? If twice a year is good, why is four not better? If our role as a church is to win the lost and if we have people get saved at these meetings, then why would we not have at least a minimum of four a year?

    My concern about the role of the evangelist is that his role is not longer pressing. We live in an age where the traditional mode of the SBC, according to my pastoral experience, has been geared toward harvesting. As SBC members we are by nature harvesters. However, I fear we are attempting to reap where we have not sown. The most pressing need for today is not harvesters but sowers. Therefore if someone where to come to my church, I would not be interested in bringing in a crackerjack preacher who has the ability to invoke emotion. I think we need to be exposed to substantive biblical theology.

    I would say the church is need of repentance, but I fear it is the leadership of the SBC and the majority of pastors out there that are in need of being preached to. If our leadership took seriously their mandate from Scripture I believe that the church would naturally assume a missional posture. If we all did our part and functioned biblically we may only need to bring in someone twice a year to get our batteries recharged. As it is I am afraid that we are missing the great need, which is a missional transformation of our own church culture.
     
  6. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    I could not have said it better myself... wait I did say that? :tonofbricks:
     
  7. gb93433

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    The work of an evangelist is not done in the church but in the world.
     
  8. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    In the context of the NT you are completely correct. Keep in mind that the contemporary church only seldom fully resembles the pristine condition of the NT church. Ideally every true Christian would strive toward doing the work of an evangelist.:jesus:
     
  9. baptistblogger

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    Cary G. Kimbrell, "The Changing Concepts of an Evangelist in Christian Thought and Practise." Ph.D. diss., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 1992.

    Adolf Harnack, The Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, trans. and ed. James Moffatt (New York: Williams and Norgate, 1904), 1:437 n. 1.

    F. J. Foakes-Jackson, The Acts of the Apostles (New York and London: Harper and Brother Publishers, 1931), 194.

    Homer A. Kent, The Pastoral Epistles: Studies in I and II Timothy and Titus (Chicago: Moody Press, 1958), 295.

    Toby Druin, "Roy Fish: Evangelist's Call Is Legitimate," Baptist Standard, January 23, 1991: 12-13.

    William Owen Carver, The Acts of the Apostles (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1916), 208-09.

    H. E. Dana, A Manuel of Ecclesiology (Kansas City, Kansas: Central Seminary Press, 1944), 252.

    The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, vol. 4, The Work of the Spirit (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967), 438-453.
     
  10. Baptist Believer

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    I didn't realize that the New Testament church was "pristine." :)

    They certainly were in better shape than we were, but they had enormous problems as well (see Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessolonians, the first few chapters of Revelation, etc.).
     
  11. saturneptune

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    The true NT church is modeled after the church in the book of Acts. Evangelism is expressed by the actions of Paul and others as the Holy Spirit lead them.

    That has nothing to do with your ideas about what a NT church or evangelism mean. [​IMG]
     
  12. John of Japan

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    What a wonderful list of scholars--but you are cheating by including Owen as a "modern scholar" since he died in 1683! :tongue3:

    But your list does me no good at all. How do I know they did not simply give their opinion in one sentence, as the commentator did in the Expositor's Bible Commentary I have. Opinions are fine, but they are not scholarship.

    I'm looking for actual evidence--something from the church fathers, linguistic evidence, church history (Anything in Eusebius? No? I didn't think so.)
     
  13. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    The NT church is born in the book of Acts not modeled after it for starters. Evangelism is actually expressed first in the Great Commission which was directed by Jesus. Paul only follows the pattern which was established in the Gospels and Acts.

    Would you care to elaborate as to why you think NT church model is irrelevant to our contemporary milieu? Because frankly all your criticism seems to be is nothing more than irritating requisite disagreement on your part. You have shown zero ability to be objective in the past, why start now?:BangHead:
     
  14. saturneptune

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    Frankly BPT, from the past, you have no credibility, from your posts to your private messages that question people's salvation, to contacting people from my church.

    As per your usual pattern, you post long posts, create problems with modern ministries that may or may not exist, and create the impression that you have some type of special knowledge from Biblical times, when in fact, you have none.
     
  15. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot say something nice then do not say anything at all. BTW, your fellow deacon Tom Butler is a great guy. You need to listen to what he has to say. I think it is time to move on.:godisgood:
     
  16. saturneptune

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    Yes, he is a great guy, and we have quite a good church and minsitry. Maybe it is time to move on, however, I would strongly suggest that in the future you refrain from contacting local chuches and local church members about comments made on this board, especially questioning a brother's salvation. Also, even more than this, it is not a good idea to criticize moderators about the manner in which they edit threads.
     
    #16 saturneptune, Sep 21, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2006

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