October 18, 2017

Baseball and Rabid Dogs of Evangelism

I’m serving as interim baseball coach for OBI’s team this week, and will be tied up for at least another week. Blogging will be rare, and possibly nill. Thanks for the patience. I will post some iMonk 101 reruns if one strikes me as appropriate.

Hat tip to the Reformissionary for the best example of “Wretched Urgency” I’ve read in a while. SEBTS President Daniel Akin- a generally thoughtful scholar- urges Southern Baptists to become “rabid dogs” for evangelism. Metaphor alert, Dr. Akin. Being perceived as “rabid dogs” is a good bit of the problem. Was Jesus a “rabid dog?” Reread “Wretched Urgency” if you need to know what I think of this sort of crusade-stryle rhetoric. Works great with the SBC faithful, and scares everyone else to death.

Comments

  1. OK, I shall now begin rambling. 🙂

    I’m beginning to believe that part of the reason modern-day evangelism efforts are failing, having little to no long-term effects beyond the near-meaningless statistic of countable baptisms, is because Christians are misrepresenting the church.

    I don’t mean in terms of the “rabid dog” stuff, although I’ll agree with Michael (and Steve) that “a mob of foaming at the mouth Christians” is a troubling image to perpetuate.

    What I mean is I see a lot of Christians engaging in what I can only call false advertising for the Gospel. For instance, in my girlfriend’s church, in one of the kids’ classrooms, a miniature poster features two faces. The top one is a sad face, with the caption “Before I Knew Christ,” and the bottom one is a happy face, with the caption, “Now That I Know Christ.” (Not the exact wording — I’m paraphrasing. Memory’s not at its best because I was at the midnight “Revenge of the Sith” show. 😉 )

    Anyway, that strikes me as a load of hooey. I think your average unsaved or unchurched John and Jane Doe can see pretty clearly that Christians in the USA aren’t a happy bunch; in fact, we seem to be pretty angry a lot of the time, if Fred Phelps and James Dobson are any indication. For my part, I’m not happier since I became a Christian — I find myself instead filled more and more with a great sorrow at the sufferings, death, misunderstandings, and general lost state of this world. I can take some comfort in knowing that at the end-that-isn’t-an-end I will be with the Lord, but I’m certainly not going to try to force that piece of security to transmute into a day-to-day constant happiness; that’s called denial, or maybe even using religion as a drug. No, every day I have to interact with the world as I’m commanded to.

    False advertising #2: that Christians, because they have access to God, have access to the wisdom to solve all their problems. Well, we may have access to an infinitely wise God, but seeing as how the rates of divorce, cheating, suicide, and the like are roughly the same within American Christianity as within the USA as a whole, one has to forgive John and Jane Doe for wondering if we’re imagining our communion with the Divine. Add to that the growing number of churches where the so-called experience of God comes in the form of blatantly phony faith healing or falling on the floor and convulsing, and Christians begin to look positively delusional.

    False advertising #3: that true Christians, by virtue of the influence of the Holy Spirit, don’t sin. This may seem very much like the previous point, except that it seems to achieve a whole new level of arrogance. I hear a guy every Sunday morning on the radio who espouses this claim. Mind you, in the grandest good ol’ boy tradition, his definition of “sin” seems to be cheatin’, drinkin’, smokin’, and doin’ drugs.

    It seems to me that the only real reason to become a Christian is the promise, understood by faith, that one day we will be reunited with God and stand in his presence. With that knowledge there is, perhaps, a certain inner peace, though not continual bliss. Our efforts to sell the public anything more than that have, I think, come home to roost.

  2. What Jay said.

  3. George B says:

    Jay, I wholeheartedly agree with your discourse on False Advertising. We are to be people of the Truth.

    And to be truthful, I have never been successful at, or comfortable with true evangelism – interpreted as door-to-door outreach, explaining the “Romans Road to Salvation”, etc. However, it is a fact that our Lord instructed us to “make disciples, as we go” through our world (work place, school, ballpark, Â…) I believe that Mr. AkinÂ’s statistics on embarrassing baptism rates is accurate. If that is, indeed, a true indicator of fewer people coming to a saving knowledge of Christ, then we have some serious explaining to do when we see Jesus face-to-face!

    Should we become “rabid dogs for evangelism”? hmmm… I dunno. Should we be more deliberate about what Jesus has clearly instructed us to do? You bet.

  4. John Burdan says:

    Just read your “Wretched Urgency” for the first time. Like Greg Johnson’s “Quiet Time Guilt” it reveals the dirty, guilt inducing underbelly of legalism and “performance” Christianity.

    Southern Baptists, of which I am one (for the past 8 years, prior to that I was Evang. Free. But, when you move to TX, well…,)are infamous for manipulative evangelism and head counting. Based on SBC numbers, I am sure that everyone in the US has been saved many times over.

    The quickie Romans Road, the prompted Sinners Prayer, all with no conviction of sin, no repentence. And then, the whole door to door thing. As a somewhat introverted person, I wouldn’t do it if you paid me $100 a house. And it’s completely unbiblical. But we are made to feel like a hard-hearted wretches sending others to hell if we are unwilling to “confront” folks in their homes or on the street.

    I have even heard preachers say that being overweight will turn people off and result in them going to hell. What about being ugly I wonder?

    However, I am convinced that there will be no finger pointing at the judgment seat. No one will say, “It’s because no one came to my door” or “He had bad breath.” You get to hell only because you choose to go there. Period.

    And don’t get me started on verse memorization. Everyone pushes it, how many do it? Another guilt trip.

    Grace, grace, grace. From sun up to sun down. I listen to Steve Brown’s “Key Life” every day just to get a daily dose of antidote to legalism.

  5. To add to what Jay said…. We try to sell Chritianity as the key to better living. Have a bad marriage, rotten kids, financial troubles? Then just apply these scriptural principles and all will be well.

    What happens is that a relationship under the headship of Jesus Christ gets replaced by moral guidelines which don’t quite deliver the goods as advertised. No wonder people walk away from the church. When you appeal to people’s wants – less problems in life – you better be able to deliver.

    Much better to address their need – freedom from bondage in sin under the Lordship of a loving God.

  6. John Burdan says:

    Sorry – let me add a caveat to my earlier post.
    My complaints are not with either of the SBC churches I have attended. We are not old school door knockers, but new school “purpose driven.” (You decide which you like least.)

    My comments were regarding evangelism material I have read (books/internet,) sermons I have heard on the Radio/internet, comments on Baptist internet forums and the denominational newspaper.

  7. George B says:

    Good point, all, but off topic, IMHO. Jesus told us to reach the world for him. I think too many of us say “I don’t hear the call to the mission field, so I’ll just reach the folks in my Sunday School class.” If we are going to take the stance of a “living witness”, “life evangelism”, or whatever we want to call it, we better make sure our lives are demonstrating the Truth. I think living the “rabid dog” example will do more harm than good, but what ARE we doing to share the Gospel?

    Just for the record I attend an SBC/CBF mixed church and tend to lean toward the CBF if forced to make a statement. However, I think God is laughing at our misunderstanding of Christian Community as hard core “us versus them” denominationalism.