Thursday, August 09, 2007

Evandalism

This video was shown to me a few... well I guess it was months ago, now. It has bothered me enough over time that I believe it's worthy of a blog post. It's from our friends at The Way of the Master. It’s a spoof on Rob Bell’s “Bullhorn”.


Now, I don’t know what you think about it but if you’ve seen Bullhorn, you might think like me. It’s so frustrating to hear this sort of approach to evangelism—totally disregarding people’s spiritual journey’s and cheapening them down to either a ticket to heaven or a walk off a cliff and nothing in between. Why do we make the gospel, the good news, into such bad news? I can’t help but feel that the viewpoint represented in the video above has hijacked the gospel of Jesus and has vandalized the sacred mission of beauty and peace from which evangelism should never be separated. Yes, there should be urgency to this mission. But in the end, the gospel that’s only about getting people out of hell and into heaven—the gospel that has everything to do with knowing where you’re going when you die and nothing to do with your hopes, dreams, and fears right here and now—isn’t the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It’s not the good news that God hasn’t given up on the world and has plans to take up residence here. I consider myself an evangelist and I plan on being one not by starting with how evil people are but with how good the world is, how much God loves it, and how much he loves his people. But maybe I'm just being "unreasonable."

4 comments:

Bill said...

Hello,

Have you read how Jesus, Peter, Paul and those guys evangelized? Rest assured that Way of the Master is biblical. Jesus preached the law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). Ray Comfort pretty much copied Jesus from Luke 18 when he spoke to the rich young ruler. Jesus used the law with the woman at the well (John 4). These examples are the tip of the ice berg.

So the question is whether you want to evangelize the way Jesus did, or go with your own way.

Thanks,
Bill

WES ELLIS said...

Bill,
I don’t believe that what The Way of The Master is doing is what Jesus was up to. I realize Ray's got good motives but I believe Jesus evangelized in the best way the most appropriate way for his culture. Now, if you read the examples you gave me, Jesus was introducing freedom to people. In the Sermon on the mount Jesus invited people to be part of a revolution, never did he lead people through a "sinner's prayer" or tell people to ask him into their heart, these things never happen in the entire canon of scripture. Yet these things are a huge part of the Ray Comfort style. Why? If it's all biblical why are these methods introduced? Read the "Woman at the well" story again. It's a story of Jesus making a relationship with a woman who he just shouldn't have by cultural standards. Jesus offers the woman freedom by sitting down and talking to her about her life. Read Acts, Do Paul or Peter ever walk someone through the Ten Commandments? No! Why? Because the Ten Commandments are a marriage covenant between God and His people. They were given to people who were already "saved," people who'd been delivered from Egypt so that they'd know how to live the freedom they'd been given. The Ten Commandments are a covenant not a litmus test. They’re never held over someone’s head. Jesus way was appropriate for his culture because people in his culture already understood the Ten Commandments. Do you think ours really understands the Ten commandments? Jesus evangelized by meeting people where they were and offering them freedom. That’s what I plan on doing.

But, in the end this disagreement is based on something much deeper. It’s not that you read the Bible and I don’t (or vice versa) it’s that when you read it and I read it we read it differently. We’re getting two different stories from the same text. That’s just the reality of reading the Bible, people see different Jesuses. And in our respective views, Jesus unfortunately more often than not looks a lot like us. There’s a great poem by William Blake that expresses this reality:

“The vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision’s greatest enemy:
Thine has a great hook nose like thine,
Mine has a snub nose like to mine…
Both read the Bible day and night,
But thou read’st black where I read white”.

Bill said...

Wes,

I agree wholeheartedly that there is no sinner's prayer in the Bible, and patting your tummy and rubbing your head is equally effective as asking Jesus into your heart. I've heard Ray Comfort witness to people, and they respond humbly, and then he'll ask them when they're going to get right with God. At least a couple of times that I've heard, they've said, "Right now," and he'll say, "That's great," and leave to go talk to the next person. They give the analogy that if a husband has cheated on his wife, you don't need to stand there as he apologizes to his wife to give him the words to say. If he's truly repentant, the words will flow naturally, and the same thing with someone that is getting saved.

I also agree that Jesus built a relationship with the woman at the well, (over the course of a few minutes) and that's an important step. However, he clearly covered the 7th commandment with her.

Peter never walked anyone through the Ten Commandments (as far as we know), because his ministry was to the Jews. They were very familiar with the law, and he mostly just told them that they needed to repent. They already knew what they needed to repent from. However, he did accuse them of murder (Acts 2:23, 36), and tell them to repent (Acts 2:38).

Paul, may have never walked anyone through the Ten Commandments either, but he used them frequently (Acts 24:25, Acts 17 at Mars Hill--2nd Commandment, etc.), and wrote about their use extensively.

I think the case for using the law is very strong. Maybe you'll disagree, and be able to explain these verses away, but it seems pretty clear to me.

Sin is defined as transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). The law stops a sinner's mouth from justifying himself (Romans 3:19). People are shown what sin is through the law (Romans 7:7). The law reveals the utter sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:13).

One of the clearest verses is Galatians 3:24, "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith."

I think we need to keep in mind that what is required for salvation is:
1. repentance
2. faith in Jesus (Mark 1:15).
If you can preach repentance without the law, I'd be interested in learning your method.

Thanks,
Bill

WES ELLIS said...

Actually I talk about repentance quite a lot. It's essential to understanding the Biblical Narrative. And I don't ever remember using the law or the ten commandments in that discussion (although you could indeed , Once you get to talking about the Biblical narrative it's only a matter of time until the law comes in). When I talk about the Torah, I talk about freedom and covenant. Repentance is a return to Eden; a return to harmony with God at that's what the law is.

I just don't think the law is something to hold over peoples heads. The Christian life is the best possible way to live and you don't need to convince people that they're sinners before you show them that, they'll see that there is a better way to live. We should be inviting people into a way of life not into a philosophy that leads to "heaven." I honestly don't think that Jesus or any of his early followers had the "afterlife" on their mind when they shared the gospel. The Gospel is primarily about this world not the "next one." That's really the biggest difference between Ray and I.

Good thoughts Bill, I hope you'll stick around this blog and join in. Maybe we can have better conversations in the future when we actually find out a little more about each other.

Shalom,
Wes