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Evangelism

Early Church Fathers Quotes on Evangelism

Barnabas 

He then, who wishes to be saved, looks not to man, but to Him who dwells in him, and speaks in him, amazed at never having either heard him utter such words with his mouth, nor himself having ever desired to hear them. This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord. – Epistle of Barnabas

Remember the day of judgment, night and day. You shall seek out every day the faces of the saints, either by word examining them, and going to exhort them, and meditating how to save a soul by the word. – Epistle of Barnabas

Clement of Rome 

aving therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. – First Epistle to the Corinthians

Ignatius

The Work is not of persuasiveness, but Christianity is at it’s greatest, whensoever’s it is hated by the world.

Letter to Diognetus

Come then, clear your mind of all its preconceived notions and cast aside the custom that deceives you, and become a new man, as it were, from the beginning, as if you were about to hear a new message.

Justin Martyr 

And that it did so come to pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God. – First Apology

And if we persuade even a few, our gain will be very great; for, as good husbandmen, we shall receive the reward from the Master. – First Apology

When he had spoken these and many other things, which there is no time for mentioning at present, he went away, bidding me attend to them; and I have not seen him since. But straightway a flame was kindled in my soul; and a love of the prophets, and of those men who are friends of Christ, possessed me. – Dialogue with Trypho

God testified by Ezekiel, when He said, ‘I have made you a watchman to the house of Judah. If the sinner sin, and you warn him not, he himself shall die in his sin; but his blood will I require at your hand. But if you warn him, you shall be innocent.’ And on this account we are, through fear, very earnest in desiring to converse [with men] according to the Scriptures, but not from love of money, or of glory, or of pleasure. For no man can convict us of any of these [vices]. – Dialogue with Trypho

…(for the matters of our religion lie in works, not in words), and learn from them what will give you life everlasting. – Hortatory Address to the Greeks

Irenaeus 

Not that I am practised either in composition or eloquence; but my feeling of affection prompts me to make known to thee and all thy companions those doctrines which have been kept in concealment until now, but which are at last, through the goodness of God, brought to light. “For there is nothing hidden which shall not be revealed, nor secret that shall not be made known.”…. Thou wilt not expect from me, who am resident among the Keltae, and am accustomed for the most part to use a barbarous dialect, any display of rhetoric, which I have never learned, or any excellence of composition, which I have never practised, or any beauty and persuasiveness of style, to which I make no pretensions. – Against Heresies, Book I

For the apostles, who were commissioned to find out the wanderers, and to be for sight to those who saw not, and medicine to the weak, certainly did not address them in accordance with their opinion at the time, but according to revealed truth. For no persons of any kind would act properly, if they should advise blind men, just about to fall over a precipice, to continue their most dangerous path, as if it were the right one, and as if they might go on in safety. Or what medical man, anxious to heal a sick person, would prescribe in accordance with the patient’s whims, and not according to the requisite medicine? But that the Lord came as the physician of the sick, He does Himself declare saying, “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” How then shall the sick be strengthened, or how shall sinners come to repentance? Is it by persevering in the very same courses? Or, on the contrary, is it by undergoing a great change and reversal of their former mode of living, by which they have brought upon themselves no slight amount of sickness, and many sins? But ignorance, the mother of all these, is driven out by knowledge. Wherefore the Lord used to impart knowledge to His disciples, by which also it was His practice to heal those who were suffering, and to keep back sinners from sin. He therefore did not address them in accordance with their pristine notions, nor did He reply to them in harmony with the opinion of His questioners, but according to the doctrine leading to salvation, without hypocrisy or respect of person. – Against Heresies, Book III

The Lord said: “Judge not, that you be not judged: for with what judgment you shall judge, you shall be judged.” [The meaning is] not certainly that we should not find fault with sinners, nor that we should consent to those who act wickedly; but that we should not pronounce an unfair judgment on the dispensations of God, inasmuch as He has Himself made provision that all things shall turn out for good, in a way consistent with justice. – Against Heresies, Book IV

Athenagorus 

But among us you will find uneducated persons, and artisans, and old women, who, if they are unable in words to prove the benefit of our doctrine, yet by their deeds exhibit the benefit arising from their persuasion of its truth: they do not rehearse speeches, but exhibit good works; when struck, they do not strike again; when robbed, they do not go to law; they give to those that ask of them, and love their neighbors as themselves. – A Plea For Christians

Clement of Alexandria 

Now, reproof addressed to sinners has their salvation for its aim, the word being harmoniously adjusted to each one’s conduct; now with tightened, now with relaxed cords.

With all His power, therefore, the Instructor of humanity, the Divine Word, using all the resources of wisdom, devotes Himself to the saving of the children, admonishing, upbraiding, blaming, chiding, reproving, threatening, healing, promising, favoring; and as it were, by many reins, curbing the irrational impulses of humanity… In fine, the system He pursues to inspire fear is the source of salvation. – The Instructor — Book I

For as the mirror is not evil to an ugly man because it shows him what like he is; and as the physician is not evil to the sick man because he tells him of his fever, – for the physician is not the cause of the fever, but only points out the fever; – so neither is He, that reproves, ill-disposed towards him who is diseased in soul. For He does not put the transgressions on him, but only shows the sins which are there; in order to turn him away from similar practices… “They that fall into sins shall be cast into outer darkness, where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth,” and the like. So that from these things it is clear that the Lord, going the round of all the methods of curative treatment, calls humanity to salvation. – The Instructor — Book I

Tertullian 

We dread the Creator’s tremendous threats, and yet scarcely turn away from evil. What if He threatened not? Will you call this justice an evil, when it is all unfavorable to evil? Will you deny it to be a good, when it has its eye towards good?

What would be said, if, when you thought the doctor necessary, you were to find fault with his instruments, because they cut, or cauterize, or amputate, or tighten; whereas there could be no doctor of any value without his professional tools? Censure, if you please, the practitioner who cuts badly, amputates clumsily, is rash in his surgery; and even blame his implements as rough tools of his are. Your conduct is equally unreasonable, when you allow indeed that God is a judge, but at the same time destroy those operations and dispositions by which He discharges His judicial functions. We are taught God by the prophets, and by Christ, not by the philosophers nor by Epicurus. – Against Marcion — Book II

Origen 

But since he is manifestly guilty of falsehood in the statements which follow, let us examine his assertion when he says, “If all men wished to become Christians, the latter would not desire such a result.” Now that the above statement is false is clear from this, that Christians do not neglect, as far as in them lies, to take measures to disseminate their doctrine throughout the whole world. Some of them, accordingly, have made it their business to itinerate not only through cities, but even villages and country houses, that they might make converts to God. And no one would maintain that they did this for the sake of gain, when sometimes they would not accept even necessary sustenance; or if at any time they were pressed by a necessity of this sort, were contented with the mere supply of their wants. – Contra Celsus — Book III

We do desire to instruct all men in the word of God, so as to give to young men the exhortations which are appropriate to them, and to show to slaves how they may recover freedom of thought, and be ennobled by the word. And those amongst us who are the ambassadors of Christianity sufficiently declare that they are debtors to Greeks and Barbarians, to wise men and fools. – Contra Celsus — Book III

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” For the word of God declares that the preaching (although in itself true and most worthy of belief) is not sufficient to reach the human heart, unless a certain power be imparted to the speaker from God, and a grace appear upon his words; and it is only by the divine agency that this takes place in those who speak effectually. – Contra Celsus — Book VI

We have learned to know “how we ought to answer every man.” And there are some who are capable of receiving nothing more than an exhortation to believe, and to these we address that alone; while we approach others, again, as far as possible, in the way of demonstration, by means of question and answer. – Contra Celsus — Book VI

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us,” so would we in the same spirit and language earnestly desire to be ambassadors for Christ to men, even as the Word of God beseeches them to the love of Himself, seeking to win over to righteousness truth, and the other virtues, those who, until they receive the doctrines of Jesus Christ, live in darkness about God and in ignorance of their Creator. Again, then, I would say, may God bestow upon us His pure and true Word, even “the Lord strong and mighty in battle” against sin. – Contra Celsus — Book VIII

Cyprian 

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” For when you used often to come to me with the desire of contradicting rather than with the wish to learn, and preferred impudently to insist on your own views, which you shouted with noisy words, to patiently listening to mine, it seemed to me foolish to contend with you; since it would be an easier and slighter thing to restrain the angry waves of a turbulent sea with shouts, than to check your madness by arguments. Assuredly it would be both a vain and ineffectual labor to offer light to a blind man, discourse to a deaf one, or wisdom to a brute; since neither can a brute apprehend, nor can a blind man admit the light, nor can a deaf man hear. In consideration of this, I have frequently held my tongue, and overcome an impatient man with patience; since I could neither teach an unteachable man, nor check an impious one with religion, nor restrain a frantic man with gentleness.

 

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