In this second part response, I will now try to clarify specifically the issues I take with our modern evangelistic mindsets in a point by point response to Nate’s letter:
- “I am a Christian. And if you’ve seen the growing spectacle that is the saga of the plaza preachers, you might not believe the three words I’m about to say, and I don’t blame you. I love you. I won’t tell you that by yelling at you, by screaming about your supposed sins in your face as you walk by or by holding up a sign that says you deserve to go to Hell.”
I am not a fan of hell fire signs. Not because they aren’t “loving” enough, but because they are cheesy. Their cartoonish flame fonts only cheapen the severity of wrath. The same way little red devils with tails and pitchforks make Satan a silly cartoon myth, big signs with fire borders and melting words do legitimatize the horrors of being separated from God forever. I also think that signs are distracting from the preaching going on.
However, the point is, aren’t people worthy of Hell? How do we love people by being ashamed to tell them that? Why is it wrong to tell people that? Read the New Testament. Jesus speaks of judgment and wrath far more than love. The New Testament consistently mentions judgment and wrath to sinners; I don’t know why we are not afforded that practice today. This anti-Hell mentality has slithered off of the streets and has crept into the church today too. Pastors can never preach a hard sermon about the reality of wrath and Hell and judgment without being labeled a stone-hearted fire and brimstone guy. We place titles and stigmas around preachers who want to teach Jesus’ warnings of the wrath to come. There is nothing unbiblical or unloving about sharing the reality that the sinners they are speaking to are not only worthy of Hell, but are currently going there without Christ.
- “To present the ‘gospel’ in a condescending way is not to present the gospel at all. This is not the heart of Christianity.”
This is scary. It appears that the Gospel has just been defined by the tone of its presentation and not the message itself. The heart of Christianity is much bigger than our niceness and politeness. It’s even much bigger than our love for people. This is making the Gospel man centered. The heart of Christianity is not love. It’s the action in history that the God-man undertook to redeem a particular people for the glorification of the holy Triune Godhead. The cross of Christ, in all of its attributes, is the heart of our Gospel. Jesus is the heart of our message, and when we think of Jesus as being nothing but love we strip Him of all of His attribute which are worthy of adoration, worship and recognition. Jesus is love. Jesus is wrathful. He is righteous. He is powerful. He is forgiving. What other wonderful attributes of Jesus should we strip away and discard in order to present Him as love and nothing else?
The heart of Christianity is not mild tempered, polite behavior. It’s the standing truth that Jesus is Lord and died to save sinners.
In Galatians Paul attacked people for a “gospel”. He attacked people for a false Gospel which was no Gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7). However, Paul never once mentioned that their presentation of their gospel was the means by which he condemned their gospel. Paul judged the content. The judaizers were teaching a gospel of faith and works. Paul then anathematized them and told them that they who were trying to be justified by law have been severed from Christ and fallen from grace. Today, apparently the Gospel is judged by the kindness which it is delivered in. The Gospel is a message. It’s not a behavior. You don’t live the Gospel. You preach it and believe it. And half of the Gospel is very intense and very offensive. The Gospel is not that Jesus loves people. People love people. People love themselves. ‘Jesus loves me’, so what? I love me too! My friends love me. My family loves me. My teachers love me. Join the club Jesus. Worship me Jesus. Make me feel good Jesus. It’s not that unique that Jesus loves people. The Gospel is that Jesus loves His people in spite of the fact that they are vile, wicked, rebellious, disgusting God-haters who are more than worthy of eternal torment in Hell. Grace, love, mercy and forgiveness mean nothing without the recognition of how ill-deserving of those things we are. When we strip the Gospel of its offense (sin, wrath and Hell) then we lose the Gospel entirely. See, the Gospel is not about us. It’s not about feeling loved. The Gospel is about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. And it’s certainly not defined by our tone. The love of Jesus is not significant without the message of how wicked we are. Otherwise, Jesus just joins the list of all those that love us. His love becomes incredible in light of how ill-deserving we are and how much we hated Him in return. We cannot remove that from the love of Christ.
- It’s actually something much different – a blatant misrepresentation of everything these people claim to stand for. As these people stand on the stump in the plaza, attempting to place themselves on a physical and mental pedestal while looking down and yelling and condemning the people they want to believe their message, they contradict the very character they’re speaking about.
This might be true. But again, our broad brush is painting over many men who are very publicly consistent with their message.
I hope that Nate’s local pastor isn’t elevated above the congregation. The problem is, he probably is. There is nothing selfish or sinful about “physical pedestals” when preaching from the Word of God.
- My study of the Bible has shown me a much different God.
Once again, Nate has separated himself from these people salvifically. There is a good chance he should. There is a good chance that those preaching on CSU’s campus are not biblical Christians. However, the problem I have stated is that Nate has identified their gospel as a false one and their god as a different god from the Scripture based off of their politeness and methodology. Not the message itself.
- I believe that God meets you where you’re at.
This is a very popular Christian cliché. How true is it? There is a lot of truth to it. Certainly God in the Bible does not require a check list of rituals and ordinances and clean-up work in order to be saved. In that sense it’s very true. However, it’s not entirely true. We are not children of God without faith in Christ. We will not see Heaven without repentance and belief. In other words, God will not meet us without faith and repentance. Thus, He doesn’t meet us where we are at completely; we need to be changed first. This isn’t nit-picky. It’s important. It’s important because my fear is that this cliché has encouraged people in their sin. Our culture (both Christian and non-Christian) have lost the hatred of God towards sin. We have cauterized all conviction by our constant personal reminders that God loves us anyways and meets us wherever we are. Sin is still wicked. We should still repent and change. Tons of people who are preached at on the street have the mindset that their sin is ok because God still loves them. God forgives them. People have heard so many times that God loves them and forgives them that it actually encourages their sin. Why would they repent? Where is the need for Christ in the gospel message of “God loves you”?
- God doesn’t try to make himself look intimidating, waving his condemning signs in your face and screaming at you for all the sins you’ve committed.
What is judgment day going to look like? Will God be intimidating? Judgment day will not be loving or pleasant for unbelievers. The Jesus who made a whip and violently drove people out of the temple will be in full-force when He returns again. The Jesus of Matthew 23 who screamed at the Pharisees and called them “broods of Vipers” and warned them of the wrath to come will not be asleep on judgment day. Jesus is love; but the Pharisees know more than anyone that He has many more glorious attributes.
- God gets on your level. That was the reason for Jesus — He got down to my level and your level and then even lower still. He opened His arms and offered His free gift of eternal life.
- I’m not trying to preach,
He is preaching though.
- and I’m not saying Christianity is rainbows and unicorns … it’s not. But it’s certainly not the picture communicated by these “preachers” who continue to increasingly populate the plaza.
This is very likely true.
- Christianity, as I see it, is life in abundance because the Creator of the universe has decided to have relationship with you and love you.
Tell them how the Bible sees it. And tell them what the Bible says and what Jesus said to those who would reject this relationship.
- My goal is not to shove my view of Christianity down your throat.
Well Nate is. But that’s OK. However, what is this “my view” qualification?Christianity ought to be “shoved”. If people are going to perish without it, we ought to shove it wherever we can as hard as we can. We should never hate people so much that we would choose mock-politeness over shoving the truth that can save their souls down their throats. However, Nate qualified it. It’s only his view of Christianity. First, the preachers have been anathematized as having a “gospel” (air quotes always imply that this is no gospel at all) and have been said to have a different god. If someone has a false god and a false gospel they are not Christians. They are unbelievers who need the Gospel. However, Nate now seems to imply that he just has a different view of Christianity. So are those preachers Christian or not? This is the problem. When we hold our judgments to Biblical teaching and not methodology we have a clear foundation to judge and consistency throughout our judgments.
- My goal is to apologize on behalf of the Christian community at Colorado State. I’m sorry for this repeated occurrence. It makes me sad to see the hatred inspired by these people almost every day, and I wish I could personally converse with every single one of you who stand around them listening and providing your own opinions.
Nate could go preach. He could reach them by the apostolic example of preaching to them.
- When I see these people spewing hate, I am rattled to the depths of my soul. I’m sorry that this is the image of Christianity on our campus, because this is certainly not the image of the God that has changed my life.
- Whether you believe in God, completely hate him, or just don’t care, I love you. No matter what you’ve done — no matter how much sex you’ve had, how much alcohol you’ve consumed, how much weed you’ve smoked, or how many hard drugs you’ve done — I love you, and Jesus does, too. I love you because you’re a human being and deserve to be loved, no matter what. Your life has worth and purpose.
Yes we are to love people. But we do so because we were like them. God never was. God never told us that although Esau was against Him and hated Him, God still loved Him. God told us He hated Esau (Romans 9:13). Romans 1 tells us that everyone believes in God, but they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. Jesus tells us that there is no one who “just doesn’t care” in Matthew 12:30. There is no neutrality with Christ. All people believe in God everywhere. That’s universal. The distinctions between people is whether or not they love God and are for Christ or if they suppress that truth and are against Christ. And those who do so are fools (Psalm 14:1) and they are wicked, evil, depraved, jealous, boastful, murderous, deceitful gossips who arrogantly boast. They no nothing of love or mercy or faithfulness and death is justice for them. If you think that’s harsh, I am quoting Romans 1: 28-32. That is after speaking of unbelievers sexual perversions too.
The unbeliever hates the God He knows exists. And the only way to properly love our enemies is to not hide the seriousness of the state they are. The Bible is in strict condemnation of their sin and we are not helping them by adapting a hyper-love mentality that comforts them in it. It is true we are to love sinners. However, this hyper-love syndrome that has permeated the Christian church is dangerous for these very people. I am to love sinners because I am one. But let us never forget, God hates their fornication. God is against those who fornicate. Not just the fornication; those who fornicate (Psalm 5:5). God hates drunkenness and is against those who revel in it (Psalm 5:5). Our presentations of the “heart of Christianity” often times make it look like we could care less about the sin God hates so much.
- If you have any questions about this, Christianity, or anything else, please ask me. Let’s be friends. That’s what Jesus would have done. I’m glad you’re alive.
Jesus would tell them to go and sin no more too. Jesus would warn them of the consequences of their sin. Jesus wasn’t afraid to preach. Street preachers who preach the Gospel to the masses, warn people of their sin, call them to repentance, and love them on top of it are so much more emblematic of Jesus than those of us who just want to tell people we love them and be nice to them. Was Jesus friends of the Pharisees? If so, please show me how Jesus was their friend. What are concrete, tangible examples from the Scriptures that Jesus loved the Pharisees and wanted friendship with them?
I doubt Nate will ever read this. Nate’s concern for representing Christ accurately to the lost is amazing. I look forward to spending eternity with believers like Nate. However, let’s present Christ in all of His attributes. If false preachers are preaching, let’s rebuke it. If people are being hateful, let’s rebuke it. But let us not develop an animosity for all public preaching and public condemnation of sin. It can be done right. It has been done right. We can discern the line.