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January 1988


Editorial Comment

Facts and Fallacies

Christian Groups Reset World Evangelization Goal for Year 2000

COMIBAM '87 - Mission Meeting of the Century

Children's Mission Education Part 1 - Mission Centered Education?

Children's Mission Education Part 2 - Ele Parrott: One Woman's Story

Children's Mission Education Part 3 - Geri Templeton: A Time for Everything

Children's Mission Education Part 4 - Starting Your Own Program

Children's Mission Education Part 5 - Adopt a Missionary

Children's Mission Education Part 6 - Workshop Spurs Curriculum Production

Children's Mission Education Part 7 - Children's Mission Curriculum Sources

Beyond the Campaign: Excerpts from a Speech by Ralph Winter to the USCWM Staff

Beyond the Campaign: A Mission Renewal Movemnt

Around the World

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Facts and Fallacies
Even the Los Angeles Times is Getting in on the Year 2000 Discussion

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 Committee’s 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 AD—Reasonable 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.

Look at the graph below. The upper two lines (presented in the Moody Monthly article) seem to parallel each other. The top line is world population. The next line is Protestant world population. We are given the impression that Protestants are not catching up to world population. Today, Protestants include hundreds of millions of people who are “Christian” in name only. They are no more “Christian” than 880 million people are Muslim.

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.

1. The non-white, non-Western believers of the Third World are 16 times as numerous today as they were at the beginning of this century.

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.

In both the Moody Monthly and Christianity Today articles you will encounter the following truly poisonous paragraph: “If the population of China would stand still, and we could have a ‘Pentecost’ every day with 3,000 saved, it would take 900 years before all of China would be saved.

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.

This fallacy I have not seen in print, but in just the last few months I have personally heard three different eminent Christian leaders passing it on. I have heard it said, “Muslims are growing at 17 percent, Hindus at 12 percent, and Christians at only 9 percent.”

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 Barrett’s 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, it’s 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 done—by the year 2000!

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