by William J. Kornfield
"Is this all that can be done?," I wondered as I thought about the small, struggling group of evangelical university students, facing the onslaughts of dialectical materialism, aggressive communism, and renewed Catholicism.
"Is this all that can be done?," I wondered as I thought about the small, struggling group of evangelical university students, facing the onslaughts of dialectical materialism, aggressive communism, and renewed Catholicism. The group really wasn't going anywhere, trying to keep its head barely above water and maintain what little testimony it dad. The answer to my question came several months later through an unexpected visit from Dr. John White, at that time executive secretary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students for Latin America.
As Dr. White and I chatted about how to penetrate the university more effectively, I asked him about the possibility of my enrolling as a student. He warmly seconded the idea, but went a step further, a step that eventually became a leap, and that later opened up a new vista of missionary endeavor. He suggested that I consider teaching the subject that had been my major in college, anthropology. The more I pondered the idea, the more possibilities I saw in it. There would be a contact with university students, but on a different level, on a far more influential level that would enable me not only to reach students, but also professional people and the teachers themselves. Anthropology, the study of man in space and time, would certainly have far-reaching implications for the Gospel.
A letter to the rector (president) of the local university followed, in which I offered to teach free a short course, open to the public, on general anthropology. After passing an oral examination from an assigned professor, I received an affirmative reply from the rector. The door thus swung open for an evangelical, the first, I was later told, in the history of that university.
EIGHTY IN CLASS
I began teaching anthropology to about eighty students, about half of whom were professional peoples including several university professors end the former rector of the university. In order to arouse interest, I maintained close contact with the local press, and this provided excellent publicity in the ensuing weeks. As I prepared the course around the theme, "The Origin of Man,' evangelical or religiously-oriented textbooks were purposely avoided. I relied on authoritative scientific textbooks and journals as I presented the creationist point of view. When I found that a Communist professor, along with a number of his leftist students, had enrolled in the course, I sought out and read what Russian scientists had to say on the question of origins. I was pleasantly surprised that in a number of ways they supported the creationist position, and this information was used effectively throughout the course.
The creationist viewpoint gained ground through the presentation of cosmological and teleological arguments as background material. This was, I was later informed by the student leader of the Accion Catolica, the first time in years that the university had received anything besides the materialistic viewpoint. More ground was then won through subsequent lectures demonstrating the lack of traditional forms in the fossil record between major groups of animals, the inadequacy of natural selection, and the weakness of mutations as a sufficient explanation for the supposed evolution of man from an animal ancestry. Significant structural differences between man and the anthropoids were also pointed out. For example, anthropologists cannot explain through the evolutionary processes the fact that man's cranial capacity is more than twice that of the largest gorilla. Even though there are anatomical and physiological similarities between man and the ape world, the anthropoids have little in common with man. They are lacking in the faculty of speech and the ability to symbolize.
Nor is there evidence in the anthropoids of man's complex psychological, sociological, spiritual, and rational nature. The bicultural gap between man and the animal world remains unbridgeable, andcanfend no adequate explanation through natural evolutionary process.
COMMUNIST ARGUMENTS REFUTED
As a result of the above arguments, the materialistic viewpoint lost out so much that in the tenth lecture, the leftist students asked that their (Communist) professor be allowed to give a rebuttal of my previous lectures. The challenge was accepted. Since it was my custom to divide the hour between forty minutes of lecture and twenty minutes of questions, the same procedure was followed when the Communist professor spoke. After he had finished speaking on "dialectical materialism" for his allotted time, it was amazing to see his arguments refuted in the question period by other materialists in the class! It was no coincidence that at that very hour a group of believers was praying earnestly for the outcome of that class. When I was asked to give my own opinion, I expressed appreciation for the Communist professor's lecture, and then simply asked whether his arguments for dialectical materialism-that of a basic unity in psychic, electrical, physical, and chemical phenomena-did not point to a greater phenomena and unifying force behind the universe and man's existence, the Creator Himself. That class proved to be one of the highlights of the course, as it demonstrated how wanting was the materialistic position.
As the course progressed, I made more references to the Bible where it touches on anthropological matters. After one of my classes, one professional man approached me, and, after expressing his gratitude, said, "Before, I thought the Gospel was just for the Indian. Now I realize it's for me." What remark ire itself made the course worthwhile, for I realized afresh that here was one of the "unreached tribes" in Latin America-the intellectual and professional people for whom Christ died. In all my contacts, I was careful to be friendly with the students, regardless of their ideological positions. As a result, both the friendship and the respect of materialists, Communists, and Catholics were won.
At the conclusion of the course, at the request of the students, the university printed forty pages of my lecture notes on "The Origin of Man" from a theistic, creationist point of view. Seventeen students wrote papers on man's origin, and seventeen others chose to take final examinations. Out of this number, twenty-eight concluded that the creationist position had more scientific support than the materialist position. At the final program, with both municipal and university authorities present, the director of the Cultural Extension Department of the university presented forty students with attractive achievement or attendance certificates signed by the rector. Six of those who received special certificates were doctors and university professors.
After the final lecture, which presented a thoroughly biblical position on man's origin, existence and destiny, a university professor asked permission to have it printed in full in the local newspaper. In addition to using most of the editorial page in two successive days, the city's leading newspaper gave excellent coverage throughout the course, and that was the means of contact with a number from the professional class. On several occasions my photograph was made available to the local press, and that provided excellent opportunities to witness for Christ to people I had never seen before. I was also invited to the rather elite social club for the city, where more contacts with professional elements were made. One long range result came later, when opportunity was given to show the Billy Graham film, "Lucia," to a goodly number of the club's members.
CHRISTIAN STUDENTS ENCOURAGED
What about the chapter of evangelical university students? They were definitely encouraged in their faith through an evangelical teaching anthropology from a theistic, biblical point of view. One student remarked that the coursebecamethe turning point in his own witness for Christ to fellow students. He later went on to become the president of the group. Since then, I have given similar lectures in other universities, and to civic and high school groups, with much the same results. Through these contacts, there have been several decisions for Christ, including a medical doctor and his wife, who have both gone on with the Lord.
We read in 1 Corinthians 9 that Paul was made "all things to all men in order to save some." The day is here, perhaps as never before, when evangelicals must take more seriously the principle behind this statement-the use of unconventional means to reach all men with the Gospel, including the "up and outers" as well as all others. On one occasion, a leading Roman Catholic radio station asked permission to broadcast one of my lectures. In a tape-recorded interview that was part of the broadcast, I made a point to get in a positive word for a city-wide evangelistic campaign then taking place. That interview later went on the air in connection with the broadcast. At another time a strong leftist radio station broadcast live an hour-Long lecture, in which I clearly presented a theistic position for man's origin, purpose, and destiny. Recently I lectured to 140 school teachers taking a special course related to anthropology in one of Latin America's larger universities. In view of the fact that there are more university-trained missionaries than ever before, ought we not to consider a wiser use of our talents by offering courses in our particular field of training, instead of the usual teaching of English lessons?
GUIDELINES FOR STRATEGY
The following guidelines are suggested for future missionary strategy in this area:
1. Since middle and upper class people are not likely to be reached by conventional means (few, if any, would enter an evangelical church), mission executives and candidate secretaries should encourage young people now in college to major in areas that will have particular value for the Gospel on a foreign university campus. Fields such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, biology, zoology, astronomy, paleontology, physics, and geology are especially applicable.
2. Missionaries now on the field, who have had training in areas other than theology, ought to consider seriously the possibility of teaching or giving lectures in their field in the local university. If the Lord definitely leads in this direction, the following procedure is recommended.
• Make yourself known to the university officials from a professional standpoint, offering to cooperate in any way possible with the university through teaching in your major field.
• Make your work or field known to the secular press. If you can gain the confidence of the local press, excellent propaganda will be provided free of charge for your lectures. Don't expect the press to come to you-one must take the initiative in this matter. It is good to have your photograph available at all times.
• Know and present your subject well. This will take time, but the dividends in gaining the esteem and confidence of the students will more than make up for it. There is no excuse for a haphazard presentation.
• Offer a popular-type course as the opportunity presents itself. This way you will have a greater opening to reach both university professors and professional people interested in your course.
• Be forthright in the presentation of a theistic viewpoint without apology and without preaching. There is often real spiritual hunger behind the facade of intellectualism. The most vital witness will undoubtedly be alone on a person-to-person bases.
• Expect opposition, but don't look for it. Satan is a master strategist and tactician. Opposition will undoubtedly come, as I found in my particular case from both Communists and Catholics. Rarely will the opposition be outward, but it will be there.
• Confidently look to the Lord for guidance and victory at all times. Trust Him, and then move ahead with expectant faith, knowing that the Lord delights to do for His glory that which is impossible with men.
Anthropology presents unparalleled opportunities to reach men in just about all aspects of life-in the physical, psychological, material, social, and the spiritual. In dealing with the problems of racial prejudice, materialism (Communist or capitalist), and man's role in society, evangelical anthropologists have any number of opportunities to point students to the most reliable of anthropological source books, the Bible. In Latin America there are relatively few anthropologists, and thus the field is wide open to whoever can occupy it. It is worth noting that recently the Peace Corps has moved in this direction by placing teachers on Latin American campuses. Is there any reason why evangelicals who have the necessary preparation, and above all the message of life eternal, should lag behind? The present and future leaders of Latin America are involved in the universities. Their opinion o£ the Gospel, and of evangelicals, will depend largely on what we do to make a vital contribution to their thinking and their lives. Will we be up to it? The answer lies not only with missionaries and nationals so trained, but in the attitude of mission leaders to this kind of endeavor.
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