Witnessing without the Word


This image, from the book “China’s Millions” (1892), shows open air preaching in China using “The Wordless Book“.

The Wordless Book consists of several blocks of pure color that, in sequence, represent a nonverbal introduction to basic Christian teachings about sin (black), Christ’s death (red), justification by faith (white) and heaven (gold).

Now, ignoring for one moment that this summary completely bypasses the resurrection, and by implication, the really good news, its worth considering if we can learn anything from this as we engage our own post-literate, multi-media culture. If Spurgeon, with his impecabble Evangelical credentials, saw the limitations of text-based evangelism, why can’t contemporary Evangelicalism?

7 thoughts on “Witnessing without the Word

  1. I do (vaguely) recognise those colors and their meaning, somewhere in my past here in the pentecostel/ charismatic evangelical scene here in Belgium there might have been a missionary who has giving a demonstration with thoe, but I can’t remember who it was and I think I was quite young then.
    I’m affraid that the demonstration as I remember it would not be of much interest of most postmodern Belgians if anyone would go to a street with a soapbox to proclaim the gospel with a book of only colors. But I suppose there are other contexts in which it would work.
    Your remark about the omission of the Resurrection is also important, it seems endemic to a certain type of evangelical preachers to bring a good friday other gospel which saves us only from the consequences of individual sins… No resurrection, no defeat of the powers, no dimensions to sin except for the legal offence to a Holy god, and forgiveness by believing in the cross of Christ is all that’s needed to solve every problem…


  2. @Andrew: Yeah, Child Evangelism Fellowship and other programs geared toward children use the Wordless Book. So a more accurate question might be, “Why don’t evangelicals consider the limitations of text-based approaches when dealing with adults?”


  3. Indeed. In fact Jarred, that reminds me of many years ago, after attending a number of Christian music and arts festivals (Black Stump for the Aussies), bemoaning how Christian young adults were expected to have some sort of creativity lobotomy some time in our mid to late twenties, at least in the way most churches did ministry. I came to terms with that obviously, but it does raise all sorts of important isues with learning style


  4. I discovered 2 really great words not previously in my vocabulary today! Rather randomly I discovered the first word in a printing industry magazine featuring an article on 3D/Pop-up books/art. The second word came when I was investigating the first word via Oxford online.
    Here’s a good place to share them: HAPTIC PROPRIOCEPTION.
    Those words have connotations of experiencing something deep within one’s being, especially involving body and movement
    I have been contemplating regarding whether I should facilitate a “space” where creative artists (and especially movement artists) can experience BEing “church” in multi-dimensional ways. This would include much simplicity of communication… the quintessential, perhaps… and of course, any relevant/appropriate complexity would be welcome, as would any people who may not consider themselves creative artists, but be interested in experiencing Christian love, life and faith as real people doing real stuff in real ways!
    I have a few people who may like to meet once a month to start with, so there may be some haptic proprioceptional gatherings happening in Western Sydney soon… whether you’re red, yellow, black or white, you’d be welcome 🙂


  5. Lucy, familiar with “haptic” from computing but the other word is unfamiliar to me. Are you free for the 4th? We’re organizing another aaanz get together for parramatta park.


  6. Nothing booked for that date. Can you send us the details Matt?
    Have greatly appreciated the Chinese art posted recently and your comments about it.


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