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January 1972 · Vol. 1 No. 1 · pp. 39–41 

Book Review


ed. J. Fairfield. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1972. 159 pages.

Reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

Probe ’72 is the projected all Mennonite Consultation on Evangelism slated for April/72; Probe contains the texts of the eleven major addresses to be presented there. Publicity has already been given to these major addresses and most of our readers will be familiar with the topics: how evangelism relates to healing, peace witness, mass media, social action, drama, music, preaching, {40} education, visitation and small groups. Probe will be a necessity for those attending the sessions in order to obtain preliminary input; those not attending will wish to buy Probe so as to see what the agenda for evangelism in the ’70’s includes. Several observations might be made relative to the representative nature of the participants, although this is a function of Probe ’72, not of the publication. E.g. the MB voice is heard only once (Jack Braun, of Tabor College, contributes an article on “Drama and Evangelism”); none of the smaller Mennonite groups are represented.

The papers are uneven in terms of content and development, and tend to lack specific reference points or a consistent critique. In “Mass Media in Evangelism”, it would have been helpful to illustrate the movement from “awareness” of the gospel to “action” by the paradigm MBI has utilized—TV and radio spots, problem oriented CHOICE, teaching and probing of longer broadcasts. By not using a familiar paradigm the presentation lacks the immediacy it might have, especially for those interested in exploring the use of Gutenberg’s contribution. “Music in Evangelism” is perhaps the most sketchy of the presentations; while making passing reference to folk music, it ignores the use of gospel-rock and folk idioms as used in coffee house evangelism. It fails to take note of the fact that an increasing proportion of the church’s target audience is unaware of the music of the church, and that the currency of nostalgia is rapidly being inflated by overuse and under-production.

Probe is well worth your investing in, however, to see the possibilities of evangelism on the many frontiers of the church. (P.S. Speaking as a Canadian, I would have liked to have seen some more Canadian representation; only one is included. But that’s parochialism!)

Vern Ratzlaff,
MB Bible College.

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