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Thread: Acceptable Christian Tracts

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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Acceptable Christian Tracts

    I'm trying to work my way through an issue that has recently cropped up in my church.

    One of my members and local preacher is passionate about evangelism, particularly personal evangelism, and has been going door to door distributing Christian tracts. The ones he chooses to use have been the "Chic Tracts" (Comic book style) but some in my congregation believe that these tracts are both dated (depicting Christians in a way that represents the 1950s and 60s) and are too focussed on "Hell fire judgement".

    Personally I use other tracts so I haven't had much to do with these.

    However, my evangelist friend believes that you cannot properly tell the good news of salvation unless you explain the negative consequences of sin.... i.e. unless people are saved, they're going to hell.

    So what do you think, do we need to speak of hell in the tracts we distribute?

    Most of our members don't believe that we do. (As a denomination, we tend to sympathise with the Universalists anyway..... though we don't deny the existance of Hell)

    If we exclude any mention of "Hell", what information should be included in the Gospel tracts that we distribute?

    Please note, I don't want this to become another thread about whether hell exists or not or even about what hell means.... my question is related specifically about what type of information needs to be in our Gospel tracts and whether "Hell" need even be mentioned?

    Your thoughts would be appreciated, thanks.
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    Senior Member Susan Unger's Avatar

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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    In our post-Christian world, I think God's love would have more effect than hell and judgement.
    Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. 1 John 4:18a


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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    If we exclude any mention of "Hell", what information should be included in the Gospel tracts that we distribute?
    David, can I assume by your use of tracts that you feel they still work in your neck of the woods? I only ask because my personal opinion is that in the US, I don't think they are a useful tool anymore. I wonder - am I alone in this feeling? I'd like to know because if many consider them still useful, I might think about it.
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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    Good point Jim, maybe they're past their "used by" date too.
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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    Good point Jim, maybe they're past their "used by" date too.
    This would be my thought as well, although I'm not in your neck of the woods, you would certainly have a better take on this.

    I can say that around here the Jehovah's Witnesses are reall big on door to door evangelism and they always leave some sort of printed material. Their material mostly focuses on a warm fuzzy paradise type of eternity. They don't seem to see much in the way of results, then again they are a known group to avoid for most people.

    I don't know whether you fellow will be effective or not, part of me would worry about him, and part of me would wonder if maybe he is doing what the Lord has called him to do. I think that I would take the advice of Gamaliel and his student Paul. I think I would watch and wait.
    -Jim

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    Senior Member Benjamin Hobbs's Avatar

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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    Not specifically on the topic of tracts but I've had similar conversations on "you have to mention Hell/consequences" mentality.

    My last conversation on this was really not too productive as I was being browbeaten by a few others. Two persons in particular disagreed with my suggestion that evangelism should match the need of each person and should not be done with a cookie cutter "you are a sinner who is in threat of Hell and I'll tell you how to fix that" approach. One continually lamented the propensity of "this generation" ignoring the wrath of God in deference to His love. The other, a missionary to China home on a break, told me flat out that without mentioning God's wrath and the risk of Hell that I was distorting the Gospel itself.

    I politely disagreed, but this seemed to make both individuals only angrier that I would not change my position.


    Really I don't find it necessary to speak to the risk of Hell to every individual. I believe that God sought relationship with Adam prior to and in spite of the risk of separation through sin. Hell isn't the reason to want a saving relationship with God, God's desire to have relationship with us is. It seems that if you want salvation to avoid Hell then God is nothing more than a means to an end to avoid that.

    Additionally, introducing the concept of Hell to every person is going to result in at least some people viewing God (the creator of Hell) as a wrathful deity. This speaks to those who are going to be shocked/helped by The Shack. Its creating a problem.

    Anyway, that's enough for now.
    It is time the Church Jesus Christ overcame the disjunctions created by the 16th-century Reformation. What is called for is the 'evangelical catholicism' of John Wesley's 'middle way' in which two historic traditions were synthesized. In this sythesis the English Reformer not only recovered for the Church a viable doctrine of holiness but also pointed the way to a scriptural view and practice of the sacraments that is both apostolic and catholic. ++William Greathouse
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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    Chick tracts are terribly dated... and many are outright offensive. Not in the sense that the gospel is naturally offensive. I mean it in the sense that they stereotype people in offensive ways. I wouldn't want our church to be associated with them in any way.

    Now for your question: I don't know that a gospel presentation needs to emphasize hell. Jesus' gospel presentation often didn't. He announced the coming of the kingdom of God and called people to repent. He invited people to believe/trust in him and to follow him. Yes, sometimes he would highlight the contrast between the two options available to people (light/dark, narrow/wide, perishing/eternal life), and I think we can still do that without an emphasis on eternal destination. We can still call people out of the dark into the light; away from the kind of life that destroys themselves, their relationships, and the world, and into a life with Christ that is life-giving and hope-filled. We can still proclaim the good news of Jesus' victory over sin and death by his death and resurrection and invite people to share in that victory. None of this requires a post-death eternity in hell, if you ask me. The negative consequences of sin are not all in the next life, just like the eternal life we find in Christ starts now and carries on into eternity.
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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Kevin Rector's Avatar

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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    Chick tracts are terribly dated... and many are outright offensive. Not in the sense that the gospel is naturally offensive. I mean it in the sense that they stereotype people in offensive ways. I wouldn't want our church to be associated with them in any way.
    ^^

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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Kevin Rector's Avatar

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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    As to the question of how to engage evangelism and what to discuss when doing evangelism I think that we should take a full orbed theological approach to our soteriology. There are three fundamental things that happen in salvation: we are justified, adopted, and regenerated. My observation is that far too many people who wish to do evangelistic work focus on the justification and ignore the adoption and regeneration... AND when the focus on the justification they typically only focus on the components of justification that is the avoidance of punishment and ignore the components of justification that is the imputation of Christ's righteousness.

    But in salvation we are just as much made children of God as we are made "not guilty" of our sin. We are just as much "made alive in Christ" as we are made "not culpable for transgressions." These are co-equal in the salvific equation. So why not focus as much (or more if it will be edifying in compassing salvation) on these when we share the good news? If you asked the average Christian what salvation is they'd probably say it's the forgiveness of sins.... they'd not even acknowledge the adoption or regeneration... and it's just as much those. It's actually rather sad the paucity of the average soteriological understanding.
    God is really good.

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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Acceptable Christian Tracts

    Thanks everyone for your helpful insights.... I was thinking along similar lines. However, I don't think it's going to be easy to change his mind. However, I will present to him a much more "positive" way of presenting the gospel and see what he thinks about it. Pray for me.....
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