Fishing for Men. By. Richard A. Seymour. LaGrange, WY: Integrity Press, 2004. Paper. 368 pp.
Here is a book on evangelism that is clear on the gospel. How refreshing that is! Though many books on evangelism are long on method and short on clarity, this one is an exception. It is clear on the message and it also contains helpful suggestions regarding method of communication.
The first four chapters introduce the book. Included here is a nice chapter telling the author’s personal spiritual journey (chap. 2). There are five chapters here on various aspects of understanding the message (chaps. 5–9). Eight chapters discuss how to present the message clearly (chapts. 10–17). Five chapters focus on the one doing evangelism, our mission, philosophy of ministry, opposition, power, and a final challenge (chaps. 18–22).
JOTGES readers will likely much appreciate the following points made by Seymour. He gives a list of 160 passages in the New Testament which faith alone as the sole condition of eternal life (p. 113). Seymour notes the difference between the works the legalists asked Jesus about in John 6:28 and the singular work of believing in Him that was Jesus’ response in John 6:29 (p. 115).
Defective invitations receive brief but helpful criticism by the author (pp. 194-99). Similarly, Seymour discusses and rejects false gospel messages, this time in more detail (pp. 257-88).
Seymour has seven pages dealing with the weaknesses of Lordship Salvation (pp. 273-79). He also has a nice discussion of the fallacy of the supposed head faith/heart faith distinction (pp. 279-81).
A series of excellent questions are suggested for using John 5:24 to make clear the promise of everlasting life to all who simply believe in Jesus (p. 188).
Some JOTGES readers will be bothered by Seymour’s suggestion that assurance is not of the essence of saving faith, but is something optional which can be gained after one is born again (pp. 133, 190). Similarly, his suggestion that Rom 10:9-10 concerns acknowledging Jesus as God will not find approval among those who are familiar with and in agreement with the writings of Hodges, Lopez, and others on the theme of salvation (soteria) in Romans.
I was personally a bit surprised to see Seymour suggest that “on rare occasions” if a person says that they don’t want to talk to you when you try to engage them in an evangelistic conversation, it might be acceptable, to continue anyway (p. 232). He says, “Just don’t try this approach [pressing on despite being told that the other person did not want to hear anything] unless you feel the person to whom you are speaking really does have a soft spot underneath his or her [hostile] exterior.” Those who may not have Seymour’s tact and discernment may find that this sort of approach can lead to being insulted or assaulted for their witnessing, which cannot be totally attributed to suffering for our testimony. Sometimes not listening to angry people can be harmful to your health.
Despite these few concerns, this is an outstanding book. I recommend it as a helpful tool. It has much excellent information and it places its main emphasis where few evangelism texts do: on the message of the gospel.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society