Book Review

Hard Case Witnessing: Winning "Impossibles" for Christ
by James R. Spencer

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Reviewed by Dick Landis

In his latest, and most ambitious book, Hard Case Witnessing, Author/Evangelist James Spencer challenges Christians to mount an aggressive personal evangelism program against the destructive forces of secularism, occultism and cultism. Spencer who wrote the powerful, life-changing book, Beyond Mormonism, calls on Christians to confront our spiritual enemy-the devil-in all his disguises. Spencer not only challenges the reader, he also provides them with the tools to bring secularists, occult practitioners, and cult followers to the saving knowledge of Christ.

According to Spencer, secularists like [the late] Isaac Azimov, New Age guru Shirley MacLaine, and the followers of Sun Myung Moon, are difficult to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ, because, "hard cases separate themselves from God by religious or philosophical systems-alternatives to the message of personal salvation.

The first chapter of Hard Case Witnessing forcefully defines the challenge of personal evangelism and portrays the enormous heart-rending stakes in the struggle for an entire generation's souls. The sad fact is, that while American Christians advocate and support world evangelism, we aren't even coming close to reaching the hard core lost in our own country. Many Christians are ignorant of what hard cases believe, and are intimidated by their polished presentations. In addition, Christians often lack adequate understanding of orthodox Christian teachings.

Nevertheless, Spencer feels Christians can win hard cases to Christ. He says, "In giving us the Great Commission, Jesus did not give us 'Mission Impossible.'"

Tools of the Trade
In a quotation from previous books Spencer identifies the two principles that must constantly be balanced by the wise evangelist-Truth and Love: "Truth with out love is too harsh and love without truth is too soft." Spencer offers practical help for those who seek to improve their personal witness. He has done his homework. The book provides an outline of secularist, occult and cultist thinking that would serve a seminarian well. He has summarized the critical elements of Christian apologetics in a way that will give the layman confidence in the face of doctrinal error.

Spencer believes the real evil in the world is philosophical: Satan has turned our eyes from God. He says most people think of evil only in terms of its ultimate manifestations, like black masses and human sacrifices. But these, he suggests, are merely the end result of evil doctrines. Hitler's death camps, he says, were the outworking of perverted Nazi thinking; Stalin's gulags, he says, are the ultimate expression of Marx's dialectical materialism (i.e.. Communism).

To win the hard case, Spencer says the warfare must be spiritual and confrontational.

Hard case Evangelism is a work of reason and Holy Spirit anointed argument. With God's help we can pull the devil's fingers out of his victim's ears and take his hands off their eyes. They will "know the truth," just as Jesus said, "and the truth shall make them free." (John 8.32)

Apologetic or confrontational evangelism is necessary, according to Spencer, because Americans are spiritually lost and effectively insulated from the gospel message by sophisticated arguments against it. Americans who once believed in a God who was near and who cared, no longer believe in Him. They no longer even feel they need a God to save them. Mankind believes that if man needs anything at all, he will find it within himself.

Spencer deals with each of the three broad categories of doctrinal error:

·To reach secularists we must confront them about the existence and relevance of God. They must first be convinced that God exists and that He expects something from them. To do this we must counter the evolutionist's notion that a God-created universe is nonsense.

·The occultist's twisted mysticism and self-reliance needs to be confronted:

When New Agers put their trust in magic, witchcraft and 'the god nature within us,' we must tell them-lovingly-that idolatry and ceremony are powerless to save them. Occult practices obscure-they do not clarify-the nature of God. We must expose the hidden things of shame, so occult practitioners may turn to the light.

·Cultists also must be confronted:

The cultist-convinced that only he and his group really know anything about God-is deceived. He worships another Jesus who lacks the full divinity necessary to save man from his sins. The Christian must understand the real biblical nature of Jesus Christ to be able to spot and confront the counterfeit.

Spencer's approach to hard case evangelism is to have us look closely at the foundations of secularism, occultism and cultism, to prepare us for declaring the Gospel to each group in ways that respond to their world view. Often times hard cases look "impossible" to us, but God may be working strongly, even when we think He isn't.

Spencer maintains Christians need to encounter spiritual error vigorously: "When we dialogue with hard cases, they win; when we don't they lose." Hard Case Witnessing by James Spencer will give you the tools to dialogue.

Read it to find courage in knowledge and conviction in truth.

 


(Dick Landis is a nationally published writer who was deeply touched by Jim Spencer's first book Beyond Mormonism.)