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Saturday, March 21, 2009



A Review of Mark Dever The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007)
ISBN 978-1-58134-846-0 $9.99 125 pp.

By Forrest Wayne Schultz

If you are looking for a short, newly written, easy to read re-statement of the basic principles of personal evangelism, I would recommend the book under review here. The style and theology is that of the solid, moderate Calvinism characterizing such great Britishers as Flavel, Spurgeon, J. C. Ryle, C. S. Lewis, J. I. Packer, John R. W. Stott, and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, all of whom are either quoted and/or mentioned as sources or corroborations of the author's views. These are the same men who were often quoted and recommended in the teachings I received as a new Christian in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) in Philadelphia in the early 1960s, so that the reading of Dever's book has, for me, brought back memories of that exciting time. (Stott, by the way, was the Bible teacher at IVCF's Urbana Missionary Convention in 1961 -- that was back in the day when "Urbana" was held at Urbana!) I saw in one of Dever's footnotes (p. 122) that Packer's (now classic) work Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God, which was then a newly published (and often referred to) book, was republished by IVCF Press in 1991, a fact of which I had been unaware. And Dever's specific teaching in his book is the same as I received them, except for one omission.

Back then one of the things IVCF stressed was that there is no simple mechanical formula for evangelism that can be used regardless of the particular person to whom one is speaking. Back in the 60s such evangelism formulas were very much in vogue, the two main ones being the "Romans Road" method and the "Four Spiritual Laws" method. I am not sure why Dever omitted a polemic against the mechanical usage of such formulas. Maybe no one uses them any more!

Dever organizes his chapters to deal with What the Gospel is, and Who should do evangelism, How it should be done and Why. He also writes an introductory chapter answering why christians do NOT evangelize. That chapter is satisfactory for an introductory work, but it does not deal with deeper, more painful issues, such as Christians not being zealous to evangelize due to their dissatisfaction with the results of salvation in their own lives and in their families and their churches. Of course, that kind of probing was rarely dealt with in Evangelical circles in the early 60s -- it was not until Francis Schaeffer came on the scene that such tough embarrassing things were discussed.

I wish to conclude by commenting on something rarely noted in book reviews and that is the great cover art on this book showing a man pointing to Christ on the Cross. Page 6 (where the copyright info is found) tells us that this art work is found in the Bridgeman Art Gallery, but it tells us neither the location of this gallery nor the title of the art work nor the artist. I find it very commendable that the cover of a book authored by a Reformed leader is graced by such a fine work of art, hopefully thereby indicating that the traditional Reformed hostility to or indifference to art is over. Let me provide another example of this -- a Reformed book I reviewed in 2006 which had just been published (Rediscovering The Natural Law In Reformed Theological Ethics by Stephen J. Grabill) whose cover was adorned with an excellent painting of the Convocation of the Synod of Dort. Now, like Dever's book, this book provided the name of the gallery (it was the Dordrect Museum) where the great painting was hung, but it also told us the city and state (Dordrecht, Holland) and the title of the painting, though it did not mention the artist. I thank Crossway for this fine book and would like to suggest that its future books include the total information on the cover art paintings -- name of artist, title, gallery, and location of gallery.

This Review Written Under The Auspices Of Active Christian Media

Forrest Wayne Schultz has degrees in engineering and theology, including a Th.M. from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has had articles and book reviews published in The Chalcedon Report, The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, and several engineering and space magazines. He writes news releases covering the arts scene in Coweta County, GA, where he resides, and this will be the second year he will be leading a workshop on the writing of news releases at the international Muse Online Writers Conference. He can be reached at 770-583-3258 or by email at

Reviewer's Note: I reviewed this book right after it came out in 2007 and thought I had already posted it here but found out, to my chagrin, that I had neglected to do so. So this is the reason for the tardiness. F.W.S.


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