Date of Award

2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Mission and Ministry PhD

First Advisor

Nancy J. Vyhmeister

Second Advisor

Walter B. T. Douglas

Third Advisor

W. Larry Richards

Abstract

The topic . This study focuses on the so-called "plan of salvation" or "gospel presentation" that evangelical Christians in the United States present to seekers who want to know how to be saved. There are currently three dominant presentations that are widely employed and emulated. The authors of each are well-known: D. James Kennedy, Bill Bright, and Billy Graham.

The major portion of my study involves a two-stage critique of these dominant evangelical gospel presentations: first, from the perspective provided by communication theory, and second, by comparing the presentations of Kennedy, Bright, and Graham with conversion accounts from Luke-Acts. Essentially, I ask if the evangelical presentation is understood by Americans and if it is supported by conversion pericopes in Luke-Acts.

The conclusions . My research indicates that the dominant evangelical gospel presentation, developed in the 1960s, largely ignores the insights provided by communication theory in that it fails to adequately understand the contemporary American audience it attempts to reach. In short, it does not communicate with maximum effectiveness.

I also demonstrate that the conversion accounts in Luke-Acts present a way of salvation that is quite different from, and in some cases, contradictory to the evangelical plan of salvation in America. I then use these Lukan conversion accounts as a basis for suggesting how evangelicals might better present the way of salvation to North Americans today.

Subject Area

Evangelistic work--United States, Evangelicalism--History--20th century, Conversion--Biblical teaching, Bright, Bill, Kennedy, D. James (Dennis James), 1930-, Graham, Billy, 1918-

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