Book Review: “The Sacrament of Evangelism”

final-soe-coverIf you (like me) serve in a Baptistic church, chances are you don’t hear the word “sacrament” often. Though I don’t have documented evidence to back it up, my guess is that if you were to go to your church and ask congregants what the word “sacrament” means, they would probably say it’s something that Roman Catholics do in their services. In actuality, there are a lot of Protestant churches that are quite familiar with the word “sacrament” (i.e. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Reformed churches, and more). What is a sacrament? Usually, it would be defined as something that signifies the presence of divine grace. In other words, baptism and the Lord’s Supper (often called “communion” in my circles) are these two precious sacraments. They were instituted for the church to first immerse or identify a believer into the body of Christ via baptism, and then continually rejoice in the sacrifice Christ has made in His atonement for sin by remembering the Lord’s Supper. However, Jerry Root and Stan Guthrie have written a book called “The Sacrament of Evangelism.” Now, evangelism is not often called a sacrament. And to be honest, I don’t know that I would call it a sacrament, per se, but perhaps I would feel comfortable with calling it “sacramental,” as Root and Guthrie often refer to.

What does it mean to be a sacramental evangelist? Basically, it is “an invitation to join God in His workplace” (SOE, 253). There have been multiple angles in which people have attempted to articulate an effective and biblical outworking of evangelism. J.I. Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God displays the marvelous, effectual grace of God in evangelism. Ray Comfort often points people to the 10 commandments, and consequentially, the provision of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection in The Way of the Master materials. William Fay has produced a very simple and clear introduction to evangelism, especially for those who are intimidated (see Share Jesus Without Fear). In high school, I went through Evangelism Explosion, a program especially designed for door-to-door witnessing and calling people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. All of these are wonderful and practical for any Christian. So why would it help you to read The Sacrament of Evangelism?

Well, the truth is, it may or may not all that much. If you’ve already read at least a few introduction to evangelism books, then there isn’t much more this book would have to offer. However, if you want to get a good understanding on the “why” and “how” of evangelism, then I would strongly encourage you to consider The Sacrament of Evangelism. One other word of criticism is that I felt the outline of the book was a little confusing. Perhaps it was just me, but I didn’t see a clear connection between chapters and sections of the book oftentimes. Though, there were efforts to bring chapters to the idea of evangelism being a sacrament.

What was wonderful about the book is that Root and Guthrie did write a book of substance, though it certainly was comprehendible. I applaud them for reminding the reader of the absolute foundation for what we need to do in evangelism without being overly flimsy in the evangelism presentation (i.e. forgetting the actual message of the Gospel and an invitation to respond) nor too subjective (i.e. a list of do’s and don’ts in methodology that isn’t scriptural). Likewise, the authors did write in a fairly intriguing manner. I especially thought the personal illustrations and lessons from philosophers were interesting and helpful.

In conclusion, if you haven’t picked up a good read on evangelism, The Sacrament of Evangelism may be just right for you. I don’t think you’ll find weak theology or poor practical applications. But perhaps you’re looking to branch out in further studies of evangelism. If that’s the case, you might want to look into books on apologetics or rehash some classics on evangelism/missions. Wherever you stand, I don’t think you would waste time in reading this book, as we all could probably use simple reminders and instructions on the likewise “simple” task of evangelism. If God is with us in evangelism, then who could stand against us?

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