Hoskins Visitor calls for Evangelism and Emancipation
By Elizabeth Wilkinson '09 M.Div.
The Rev. Warren H. Stewart gathered with Yale Divinity School students , faculty and staff in the Common Room on April 11 to share his personal vision for the church, a vision of what he calls the “E&E Connection” -- Evangelism and Emancipation working together for a holistic liberation of mankind.
Stewart, senior pastor at the First Institutional Baptist Church of Phoenix, AZ, was at YDS April 10-11 as the 2007 Hoskins Visitor. The Hoskins Visitor is a Christian leader invited to campus to discuss issues related to the reform and renewal of the church.
Sharing from his personal experience in witnessing division within the American Baptist Churches around this issue , Stewart presented a connection between the two that he said Christians can ill afford to ignore. “We must follow Jesus' method of speaking liberation first…but if you speak it and do not do it, you negate all that you said.”
As a pastor and practical theologian with a self-proclaimed “triple heritage” (African, American and Christian), Stewart bases his position on Scripture. Sharing from several Old and New Testament passages, he presented a view of a Christian's divine assignment to both proclaim salvation and work to liberate others from “anything or anyone the prevents them from fulfilling God's destiny for them.”
Using the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) as a basic structure, he presented five steps the church should be engaging in: mobilization, evangelization, transformation, initiation and edification. Stewart cited Acts 1:8 to show the reception of empowerment for this work from on high, saying, “Every believer serves as a witness for the Christ they carry.”
He noted that Micah 6:8 speaks importantly about establishing justice through humility, which Stewart suggested is only possible through a right relationship with God, the self and others. Luke 4:16-21, which Stewart described as setting forth “Jesus' platform for mission and ministry,” shows the connection between communication and restoration, where helping and healing is a practical part of sharing the Gospel.
Stewart believes that those who advocate social justice and those who advocate evangelism must engage in a two-fold purpose of evangelism and emancipation for the church to survive in this millennium.