|Billy Sunday Evangelism Evolves
Billy Sunday was responsible for an unprecedented paradigm shift in
evangelism practices and theology. The template for salvation had changed
forever. It isnt stating it too strongly that evangelism can be
identified as pre-Billy Sunday and post-Billy Sunday. As the pre-Billy
Sunday ministers died off, so did the understanding of the workings of
the Holy Spirit in the penitent.
Why did the evangelical community allow the big lie of 100 percent conversion
to be perpetuated? There were many factors. Since the middle of the nineteenth
century, a war for the soul of America was raging that threatened the
very survival of what we now call Fundamental Christianity. Liberal theology
from Germany and modern science openly challenged the authority of the
Scriptures. Many denominations were in the process of adapting their theology
to the new lights.
Billy Sunday was the champion of Fundamentalism. The old axiom, The
enemy of my enemy is my friend, certainly applied to Sunday. Several
of D.L. Moodys successors were disgusted with Sundays influence
over evangelism, but veiled their criticism. In the end, perhaps they
allowed the lie because it made evangelism look more powerful than ever
before, able to compete with the lures of the modern world.