Making sense of it all (part 1)

Consider these familiar scenes:

* You are stopped in the street by an earnest young man with a wooly jumper and a fixed smile. 'Jesus died for you' he mutters, as he shoves a shiny leaflet into your hand.

* An American evangelist is being parodied in a TV soap. 'Send us your dollars', he drawls, 'and God will bless you a hundredfold'. Later on he's, unsurprisingly, found out to be both embezzling the funds and deflowering the daughter of the rich businessman. You shake your head knowingly.

* You are dragged along to a massive rally. In the distance a man the size of an exclamation mark is exalting you to turn from your sins and come forward as a public testimony. Either side of you people are twitching and your hands go clammy in defiance.

These are all aspects of Christian evangelism. It gets results and, in many circumstances, is seen as a perfectly valid way of spreading the message of the gospel.

But it 's not the best way and often produces 'emotional' converts rather than an intelligent, considered conversion. There is much more to Christianity than a few glib phrases and an all-purpose formula.

Christianity is a logical as well as a spiritual faith, but it can only really be completely understood within its Jewish context, from within its Old Testament roots. So, let's examine those roots and see what it's all about.