The book had many positive and negative aspects. In one example Little says that a Christian may allow a roommate to leave pornographic magazines around the shared area but he or she should put his or her “foot down” when the roommate invites someone of the opposite sex to sleep over (82); however both circumstances should not be tolerated. A few pages prior, Little mentions, “Do not condemn the other persons and do not compromise your own convictions” (75)-tolerating pornographic magazines to be left out in the open is a compromise and a possible source of temptation. Christians are called to be holy, and to say nothing about the porn magazines is the same as condoning it. The Bible exhorts that Christians are to “take no part in the worthless deed of evil and darkness (Eph. 5:11 NLT).” The Christian should ask that the roommate keep porn magazines in his or her own personal living space.
Little mentions that there is an “absence of an explicit biblical standard” regarding alcohol consumption. He states that French Christians often drink wine because it is part of their culture (149). There is a certain people group in the United States who was infamous for making “moon shine” and would probably consider alcohol consumption as part of their culture. Just because one is accustomed to certain practices does not mean that the act is acceptable. Christians are called to put an end to selfish desires that impede on a relationship with God (Galatians 5:24 and Romans 21:1).
Little asserts that praying over a meal before eating is not a “witness vehicle” so he suggests that Christians ought to pray with eyes wide open so as not to offend anyone (79). Jesus states, however, “For whoever is ashamed of Me…of him the son of Man also will be ashamed (Mark 8:38 NKJV).” Praying in public may not be a witnessing tool, but Christians should not be afraid of what others would think if he or she prays silently before a meal.
On a positive note, the inclusion of study questions and the suggestions for group leaders would be helpful for a church evangelism class. The questions evoke a response from the student, forcing him or her to make practical applications of the chapter’s content. For instance, one of the questions in chapter five, “What is Our Message,” asks, “What would you reply to a person who said, `I’m glad Christ will forgive my sins but I haven’t got anything to repent of. I’m as good as the next guy’? (103).” Another from the same chapter asks a question but also poses a challenge, “Prepared with new insights from this chapter, would you like to contact someone in order to explain or clarify the gospel or to help the person continue in Christ? Consider doing so this week (103).”
Little explains that sometimes non-Christians refute or seriously doubt the reliability of the Bible. To this, Little counters by asking for specific examples, which he observes very few people ever give (121). In fact Little insists, “We don’t have to be answering questions all the time. We can pose a few questions for him, too” (114). For example, Little’s question for those who deny Jesus Christ as the only way to God is “Since you don’t believe Jesus Christ was the Truth, which of the other three possibilities about Jesus Christ do you believe? He was either a liar, a lunatic, a legend or the Truth” (114).
The first edition of Paul Little’s book was published in 1966 and was updated by his widow, Marie Little, who republished it as a second edition in 1988. It is amazing how the examples are still relevant. Little’s quest to help people present the good news in a “relevant” way and to communicate the gospel effectively to those who find it strange or foreign was achieved (13). Not only does Little equip people with the purpose, method and challenge of evangelism, but also devotes several chapters on strengthening the inner spiritual qualities of Christians. Two reflective questions he posed were, “Are we convinced that our behavior is giving glory to God?” (153), and “Am I doing this and not doing that because of love for Jesus Christ and a desire to honor and glorify Him? Or is the real reason a cultural bias that won’t hold if I move from one social or cultural group to another?” (158). Little believed that an “inner spiritual reality” of spending time with God in prayer, worship and fellowship is crucial for becoming an useful witness (190). Little’s book prompts the reader to realize and to act according because “the greatest favor you can do for others is to introduce them to Jesus Christ” (11).
Copyright © 2007 M. Teresa Trascritti