Although many leaders within the Southern Baptist Convention would argue for the necessity of and the clear biblical mandate of evangelism, research shows that personal evangelism is not taking place in scores of Southern Baptist churches. Regardless of whether or not one is the pastor, the facts reveal that neither the average preacher nor the layman is actively sharing his faith. Interestingly, however, research does indicate that churches with evangelizing pastors have people who are actively doing evangelism. To help the local church pastor improve his evangelistic efforts, this dissertation examines a sample of New Testament examples of evangelism and the evangelistic practices of Theodoret bishop of Cyrus. He is the paradigmatical choice, since every individual under his pastoral charge, while serving as bishop, turned from heresy to Christ.
To survey evangelistic assumptions and practices in the New Testament, the writer examined two Pauline epistles and the Book of Acts, using various commentaries and resource books to highlight meanings and purposes. To examine the life, times, and methods of Theodoret of Cyrus, the writer used early church histories, journals, extant works from Theodoret, and other pertinent books. The majority of the research, relating specifically to Theodoret, was from English translations of his works, including biblical commentaries, letters, a series of sermons, and apologetic books.
This dissertation consists of six chapters. Chapter one presents a basic introduction to the paper. The material in chapter two examines the two mentions of the office of the evangelist in the New Testament and a sample of evangelistic messages in the Book of Acts. Chapter three surveys the historical and theological context in which Theodoret lived in AD fifth century. Chapter four portrays the life and ministry of Theodoret of Cyrus. The fifth chapter contains the bulk of the paper. In it, Theodoret's evangelistic methods are set forth for analysis. The conclusion is a record of the author's reflections of the research provided in the paper.
This dissertation aims to help the local church pastor learn how he can better evangelize personally and, if possible from the research, help the members under his charge to do evangelism. The author concluded that several practices could be helpful for the pastor to sharpen his evangelistic skills. The principle conclusion derived from both the New Testament and Theodoret was that for any individual to have opportunity to respond to Christ, he or she must first hear and understand the Gospel. In everything Theodoret did throughout his ministry, he intentionally communicated the Gospel to his audience. As a result, there were scores of souls saved for eternity.