Invitation to Evangelism: Sharing the Gospel with Compassion and Conviction. By Timothy K. Beougher. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2021. 403 pp. Cloth, $39.99.
Beougher is the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and the associate dean of the Billy Graham School at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His book is endorsed by many people from that seminary, including President Al Mohler, as well as a host of pastors, evangelists, and parachurch workers.
There are a number of positive aspects to this book including the fact that he gives a very thorough bibliography on evangelism that covers 35 pages and lists over 1,200 books. While there are no books by Zane Hodges or any Free Grace authors, this is still a very impressive list.
His chapter on the history of evangelism (chap. 5, pp. 59-87) is excellent (except for the fact that he does not speak much about the message that was preached in most of these time periods).
I really appreciated the ideas he shared about giving away stuff that would call people’s attention to Christ (pp. 235-37). He talked about giving away lightbulbs (Jesus is the light of the world), free quarters for the laundromat (Jesus washes our sins away), free Christmas gift wrapping in the mall (Jesus is the reason for the season), and free water bottles (Jesus is the living water). The entire chapter on servant evangelism (chap. 19) is helpful.
However, there are some major concerns with this book as well.
The biggest problem is that Beougher gives a very confused presentation of what one must do to be saved. He repeatedly says that both repentance and faith are required to be born again (e.g., pp. 9. 50, 253, 257, 358). He defines repentance as “turning from sin and turning to God” (p. 110). And we must believe, that is be persuaded, of several things including the sovereignty and holiness of God (pp. 103-105), “the horrific nature of [our] sin” (pp. 106-107), and that Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross for us, rose bodily from the dead, and ascended to heaven” (pp. 107-109). However, Boeougher also claims that faith is “more than a general belief” since “Even the devil believes in God” (p. 111). What is this faith? It is “Only when we have repented and believed that we can say, ‘Christ is my Savior and my Lord’” (p. 111).
It is confusing that Beougher sees certain things we must be convinced are true, but in addition, we must have a different kind of faith, a faith that results in us yielding to Christ as Lord.
He favorably quotes Leighton Ford as saying that we need to “ask people to commit their lives for time and eternity” (p. 250). He says that “believing in Christ intellectually” is not enough to be saved. One must also “trust him as their personal Savior and Lord” (p 252).
It is great that there is a chapter on assurance. But he follows the confusing Reformed idea that we gain assurance from not only the “promises of God,” but also the “inner witness of the Holy Spirit” and “evidence of a changing life” (pp. 252-57). He even has a section entitled, “Direction, Not Perfection” (pp. 257-58). The problem is no one could have certainty of his eternal destiny by following Beougher’s suggestions, especially since he also favorably quotes Greear who wrote, “The mark, however, of someone who is saved is that they maintain their profession of faith until the end of their lives… salvation is a posture of repentance and faith that you begin in a moment and maintain for the rest of your life” (p. 257, emphasis added).
This book presents a very confusing saving message. For that reason, I can only recommend it for those who are well-grounded in the faith. There is enough good material in this book that well-grounded people might find it helpful.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society