Facts and Fallacies
By Ralph D. Winter
The COMIBAM 87 conference in Sao Paulo a few weeks ago highlighted the goal of reaching the world for Christ by the year 2000.
The Lausanne Committees magazine, World Evangelization, has adopted Unto 2000 AD as its theme this year. It is giving a page each issue to The Unfinished Task. The March issue has 12 consecutive pages dedicated to the sub-theme Unreached Peoples Update.
Moody Monthly for January runs an entire news page, Mission Groups Push to Reach World by 2000.
Christianity Today, January 15, prints Completing the Task by 2000 ADReasonable Goal or Wild-Eyed Dream?
Is it possible to win the world by AD2000? Even the Los Angeles Times is asking this question. Their half-page article is reproduced on the next two pages.
We must be careful: most of these articles contain both facts and fallacies.
RULE: comparing cultural heritages rather than percentages of believing, evangelizing Christians leads to no significant conclusions at all.
So, we have added two additional lines, which are zooming up, a movement all over the world gaining influence completely out of proportion to its size.
2. The specifically evangelical population of the world is almost 40 times as large as it was at the turn of the century.
COMPARE: world population has only grown 3 times as large between 1900 and the present.
But note an even more curious FALLACY #2.
What a defeating and hopeless statement that is! And how beguiling! The arithmetic is correct. But whoever dreamed this up would be struck dumb with amazement if he were to take into account how very large and fast-growing the Christian movement in China already is! In the table below you see a more realistic projection.
The men who have made this statement mean well. They want to alert people to the great need. But they have not analyzed the facts.
In the two boxes at the bottom of the page I show David Barretts estimates for the sizes of various groups of human beings at five different dates in this century. To the right I have calculated the four growth rates between those five dates.
As you can see, there is nothing like 17 percent anywhere there. What does appear very clearly is that for very large categories of human beings, normal population growth rates are about all you can expect. In Line 19, however, you do see the evidence of an evangelistic impact. The Christian faith, because it is a faith, is capable of growing much more rapidly than the general population. Usually a minority within these larger groups, its growth may never be measured by those who consider populations of entire countries.
But in any case, the goal of world evangelization is not winning every human being but of penetrating every darkened group. That is being done and can be doneby the year 2000!