GREENSBORO, NC: Evangelism Professor Presses Anglicans to Fight Complacency and Preach “Old Paths”
“We are in a spiritual war in America and we are losing battles in too many areas”

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”Jer. 6:16

By David W. Virtue in Greensboro

A Beeson Divinity School professor and Anglican church planter says there is a dreadful war for souls in America with more young people being converted to Islam and other Eastern religions. Christians are losing the war to “complacency in the face of pagan opposition.”

The Rev. Dr. Lyle W. Dorsett told 1200 Anglicans attending the annual winter conference of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA) that there is a malaise across the church today. “We don’t believe the old paths are very effective. We are in a spiritual war in America and in Western nations in general and we are losing battles in too many areas.

“Trends show that Christianity is no longer the fastest growing religion in Nth. America, it is now Islam partly due to immigration and this is one cause in an unprecedented change in the country. Numerous North Americans are converting to the Muslim faith. Young men and teenagers are converting to the Muslim religion because they are crying out for direction and help. Hispanics are converting to the Muslim faith as are many cultural Catholics. Many young people in this country are becoming Buddhists and Hindus and are fascinated by Eastern religions as well as a galloping secularism. We can’t just blame the media we are also to blame. The churches have forsaken the old paths. We are too busy entertaining people. We should be inviting people to worship and to be expectant about what God wants to do. We need to be an expectant people. What are people finding in other religions? Our own children are being proselytized in a variety of ways. We are too complacent. Our children must be taught to evangelize, the clergy isn’t supposed to do it all.”

Dorsett, a C.S. Lewis scholar and former head of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, IL (Lewis’s papers are maintained there), is now the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism at Beeson Divinity School. He asserted that church leaders need to return to serious prayer, preaching, exercise spiritual power and be prepared to be persecuted for their faith. “Jeremiah was burdened by the unfaithfulness to God of the religious leaders of his time and he saw the complacency of the Israelites in the face of pagan opposition. We are seeing the same thing today.

“God is calling us to wake up and see the (spiritual) war. He is calling us to total mobilization in this conflict. We want to see the entire church family, children youth and adults free to get everyone mobilized for this conflict. We are losing battles because we are asleep.”

Dorsett believes we need to recover some of the lost weapons of spiritual warfare. “We need on the ground infantry not just nuclear power. We need the old tools and put them back to work and expect Him to work with us.”

Lyle, who is also an AMIA priest, cited his own granddaughter who was “caught” witnessing to two of her friends in school. Their irate parents called the principal. He, in turn, called Dorsett because the parents complained. Dorsett sat his granddaughter Erica down, showed her some scriptures, and told her to keep it up.

Lyle stated the Early Church started with just 500 believers. By the end of the Book of Acts, it was 200,000. “That was not biological growth. It was conversion growth.”

Dorsett said the first line of defense in spiritual warfare is Prayer. “Our churches need to be mobilized to pray. We need much prayer and much spiritual power. There truth is there is little prayer and little power. No prayer equals no power. Jesus saturated his life in prayer to the Father. Jesus solicited prayer for them. God resists the proud. Paul is humble in his thinking. They were in the Word and in prayer.”

Lyle has read the private letters of CS Lewis. “In his numerous private letters he said ‘pray for me’. Lewis had a prayer network like the apostle Paul had.”

Lyle contended that the secret of the power of the Wesleys and other evangelists is prayer.

1. The preached everywhere and anywhere so women and young people could hear the Word of God not just men. 2. They proclaimed with simplicity.
3. They preached fervently and directly.
4. They based their sermons on the “old paths” on Scripture.
5. They taught the total corruption of human nature. 6. They maintained that the death of Christ was the only satisfaction whereby we could be saved.
7. They preached the universal necessity of heart conversion, the need to be born again.
8. They preached that God hates sin but loves sinners. 9. They proclaimed that prayer and Holy Spirit will empower people and He promises you will be persecuted for your efforts.

“The truth is we don’t do these things for two reasons. The first is we are afraid of men. Many love the praise of men more than the praise of God. The second reason is poor teaching. We have been told for too long that we need to come up with new models. Not true. Let’s excavate the old models. They are well preserved in the sands of time.”

Lyle remarked that today we are finding our spiritual inspiration from the Global South because they have the spiritual resources. They ask for our funds to get the work done, but not our spiritual resources because we don’t have any.

“We need to preach the Word, which means proclamation. Yes we need to contextualize but preaching the word is absolutely essential. We need to pray mightily, exercise spiritual power and expect persecution. The gospel has intrinsic and innate power. The call of the Great Commission still stands. The prosperity gospel has no pain and suffering. Jesus promises us tribulation… ‘if they hated me, they will hate you.’ Get used to it.

“Our kids want the bar raised on them. Our churches want the bar raised. We want spiritual Navy Seals and Special Forces. We have got to do something to stop the rot. It is by prayer and proclamation of the truth that this will happen.

“Keep Christ at the heart of mission and build churches around Jesus’ Great Commission.”

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