I’m currently reading Yoder’s Theology of Mission (thanks, IVP!). In a chapter on the ministry of Paul in salvation history, he makes an important point between proclamation and persuasion. He points out that the New Testament witnesses proclaimed the good news of the Gospel and did not utilize many of the manipulative methods of persuasion that we currently see in many settings (fear of hell, “if you died tonight,” your life would be so much better, etc…).
He then compares these two approaches of gospel-witnessing to the difference between a train and a taxi. A taxi can’t go anywhere unless a person wants to get in it and pay for it. Therefore, a taxi must sell an individual on their service. A train, on the other hand, is on a schedule and will reach its destination regardless of an individual passenger’s desire. You can get on, or stay off, but either way the train is going.
“Whether somebody gets on the train is completely his or her decision. But if somebody does not get on, they do not go anywhere. Moreover, what constitutes the destination does not depend on them at all.
Think of the difference as it relates to evangelism. Modern Western evangelism says, “Won’t you please get on so I can have a fare? Because I have to make my living running this taxi.” Kingdom of God proclamation says, “This train is bound for glory. Get on or get left.” The objectivity, the fact that the train is going to leave without us if we do not get on, the fact that the Kingdom is coming whether we want it or not, is the way of the kingdom whether we like it or not. As it happens, we will find that it is a good trip. But whether the conductor gets paid does not depend on whether we get on. The train is simply going. The kingdom is not a taxi. The kingdom is more like a train.” (109-110)
Do you agree with Yoder?
Is the Kingdom more like a train or a taxi?