The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Exploring metaphors for evangelism.

I’ve never liked the metaphors in which the Gospel becomes something we’re selling people on. I don’t like to think of myself as a salesman. I don’t like to think of the Gospel as a product. Sure, there are ways in which taking in the Gospel is like purchasing a product. It’s something we “buy into” (although that’s more like buying shares in a company, which might not be such a bad metaphor). But we can’t let the metaphor dictate the nature of the reality itself. A metaphor can be stretched too far. There are ways in which evangelism is like sales, but if we take it too far, we does violence to both evangelism and the Gospel.

But Jesus comes along, beachside, and says, “I’ll make you fishers of men.” So how far does that metaphor go? Is the Gospel the bait? The hook? And in all reality, when a fish gets hooked, it’s going to die and be eaten. Is that what happens if we swallow the Gospel? Well maybe, but that’s not really enticing is it? If the fish knew, it wouldn’t take the bait. If outsiders knew the consequences of swallowing the Gospel, would they take the bait? If the Gospel kills the fish once it’s hooked, is it dishonest for the fisherman to cover up that truth?

Maybe we can say, “well, yes, the Gospel is a call to death spiritually speaking.” But I guess, the question is, do we take the metaphor that far? When Jesus said, “I’ll make you fishers of men,” was he just using a meaningful context to communicate a single idea? Maybe it doesn’t go anything beyond Jesus-followers being like fishermen. But intrinsic to a fisherman’s role is the baiting, the death of the fish, etc. Can you separate the two?

But of course, I don’t know that they used bait and fish lures and fishing poles back then. Rather, they cast nets. And the Kingdom is compared to a net I think. Still, the fish dies in the end. And no fish would knowingly swim into the net. Does the outsider have the right to be forewarned by the evangelist about the whole death thing? Is the evangelist’s credibility in question if he hides that fact?