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Patterson explores link between evangelism & Bible prophecy

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Speaking on “Evangelism and Bible Prophecy,” Paige Patterson said the “two have not been properly wed in the past,” during the Sept. 28-29 Mid-South Pastors’ Conference at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Growth.
Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., is in the process of preparing a commentary on the Book of Revelation. He said he hopes the first volume covering the first 10 chapters will be ready for release in June 2000.
“Our discussion this week is to take material related to prophecy and to use it for evangelistic and missions-oriented purposes,” Patterson told his audience. “Many of our lost friends will come out of curiosity to hear talk about apocalyptic matters. We need to use these prophetic themes to purposely point them to Christ.”
Walking through the Book of Revelation in verse-by-verse fashion, Patterson pointed to opportunities to express evangelistic themes in the text. He also included discussions of hermeneutics, explaining that much can be read into the passages, but that painstaking care must be taken so mistakes are not made in efforts to identify images and visions which were revealed to the author of the New Testament book.
“Early in my ministry, I identified the harlot of Revelation, chapter 17, with the Roman Catholic Church, basing my beliefs on scholarly writers who had researched the subject,” Patterson recounted. “As I have matured and researched the subject myself, I have concluded that any church, including the Baptist church, can play the harlot if it is adulterous in its relationship and commitment to Jesus.”
Concerning the books second and third chapters, Patterson noted that “the seven churches have been tied to symbolism of the various movements of the church age in the past, yet, if care is taken to note the characteristics of the churches, they look much like our own churches today.” From his travels to churches around both the United States and the world, Patterson noted that every church can be categorized into one of the seven types of churches the Apostle John wrote of in Revelation.
Patterson also shared his opinion of the church’s rapture from the world prior to the tribulations described in the book’s sixth chapter. “But this is a key message to the church of today,” Patterson said. “We have only a limited amount of time before the church is taken away, which means that the church should be about the business of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus as the only hope for tomorrow.”
Patterson fielded questions at the end of both days and expressed his passion for assisting pastors of local churches. “One of the greatest joys that I have in my travels as [SBC] president,” he said, “is the opportunity to meet with these pastors and fellowship with them.”
“We are delighted to have played a part in having Dr. Patterson come to the campus to lead in a scholarly discussion of the important issue of Bible prophecies and their use in the area of evangelism,” said Chuck Register, associate professor of evangelism and director of the Leavell Center. “Our desire for this conference is to assist pastors so that they may return to their churches equipped with a more complete sense of the Scripture and confident that they can share these truths with their congregations.”

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