09 June 2010

Gospel fail

--- Posted by Rev. Larry Beane


Chad Myers said...

Rev Beane, could you please elaborate. I think I get what you mean, but I'd like to hear why, exactly you think this is a fail. I ask honestly, really, I'm not trying to start another debate :)

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Chad:

No problem. I think it is a case study in how not to engage the world!

Telling people to "hate sin" on the license plate is one fail. I mean, we sin because we like it. Telling me to hate it isn't going to convert anyone. If I could "hate sin" because a license plate tells me to do it, what do I need Jesus for?

Another fail is the little decorative hell flame decals over the wiper blade. Nice.

Finally, the Matt 16:26 passage is ripped out of its context and is used as a scare (not a Scaer) tactic.

The whole thing is an attempt to threaten and frighten people into Christianity. There is no mention of forgiveness, of the cross, of the promises, of the blessings of eternal life. This approach is not much different than tying someone up and brandishing a hot poker in front of them, telling them to convert or I'll put your eyes out (a popular evangelism technique a few centuries ago). In evangelism by threat, at best, you will get external compliance, not a genuine conversion. The law works when coupled with the gospel. This roving display has not one iota of the Good News.

If people could be terrified into the faith, could outsource evangelism to the CIA for waterboarding-baptisms. Then again, a lot of "contemporary Christian music" is a subtle form of torture - so I guess the church has somewhat adopted the "enhanced interrogation techniques" approach to evangelism. ;-)

Finally, there is just something vulgar about putting God's Word in big letters on the back window of your SUV for birds to crap on. We treat God's Word like a decal supporting a sports team or a declaration of one's beer loyalty. Americans have become crass when it comes to the things of God's kingdom.

Most unbelievers will look at this over-the-top display of kitsch-tianity and will roll their eyes. All the good intentions notwithstanding, these kinds of displays are, I believe, a stumbling block to actual evangelism. They present a stereotypical view of Christianity as just another law-based religion being pushed by people who think they themselves actually keep the law.

Good news is, football season will soon be here, and a lot of people will go back to having "geaux saints" or some such to impede their views out of their windows. ;-)

Chad Myers said...

Excellent! That's where I thought you were going and I agree wholeheartedly. Win converts through love, not fear.

Fear of hell is the lowest form of love of God. Let's inspire people towards higher forms!

Joseph Schmidt said...

Maintaining the proper distinction between Law and Gospel is essential. I think legalistic fundamentalist "Bible believing" churches that mix this up are worse breeding grounds for atheism than leftist colleges.