One of my favorite columnists is Thomas Sowell. He does this “Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene” which is his brand of conservative rabble rousing about the conversation in the public square. Here’s my experiment in doing the same thing from an evangelical point of view … so don’t say you weren’t warned …
Speaking of Conversation . . .
When Hillary Clinton started her presidential campaign with “Let’s have a conversation,” was I the only one who felt like she was a guidance counselor about to tell me that she was real sorry but college isn’t for everyone? As if all previous candidates hadn’t been trying to converse with me but rather to do what? Seduce me? The real problem here is that a “conversation” is less intimidating than a “confrontation” or heaven forbid “an argument” No. No. tsk. An argument is bad. Arguments are what happen on Jerry Springer. This is just relativism disguised as compassion. I would rather not have any idea you are trying to convince me of soft-pedaled as if this won’t hurt a bit, thank you. It infantilizes me.
Consider that in context with Dave Fleming’s book The Seeker’s Way: Cultivating the Longings of a Spiritual Life
For too long the only conversation many people have had with those of different faiths is about conversion. We really must get beyond this….. I am not about to pronounce judgment on one who feels called to share his faith in order to invite another to consider that faith tradition…. Seekers enter relationship with others, not to convert them but to travel the road together as friends and seekers of the Mystery.
Now I agree that sometimes evangelism has become the end all be all of the Christian life at the detriment of discipleship and that we could all do a little more “lifestyle evangelism” especially in a post-Christian society where our non-believing friends have literally heard it all before. However, the idea that Christians who are really “with it” don’t want their fellow travelers to believe the gospel and change from their wrong beliefs starts to sound like the fallacy of sincerity: As long as I’m sincere, I’m right. I’m glad that Mr. Fleming doesn’t want to “pronounce judgment on evangelicals” since his Bible would look funny with the Great Commission covered in Whiteout.
Now That’s Old School Total Depravity . . .
“I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not born me. I am very proud, revengeful/ ambitious, with more offenses at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth?”
This is my favorite quote from Hamlet and one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes. It captures the idea of “humans are totally warped” so eloquently. Sin isn’t a four letter word but you wouldn’t think so these days. One of my favorite bands, the now defunct Jacob’s Trouble has a great song called “Church of Do What You Want To”:
Are you tired of religion that only seems to bring you down?
Cramping your lifestyle like a certain thorny crown?
Are you sick of being told that you can’t make it on your own?
If that’s your case, I’ve got a place that you can call a home!
It’s the Church Of Do What You Want To
The Church Of Do What You Please
The Church Of Do What Feels Good Baby
And Believe What You Want To Believe
No absolutes, no wrong or right
Well, we don’t believe in Heaven and we WON’T believe in Hell
We threw away the Bible and the sacraments as well
Jesus is just alright with us, just as long as you don’t try
To make Him out as more than just an ordinary guy
No absolute, no wrong or right, just vague philosophy
Ah, ah, ah, I know something’s wrong
Something once was here, but now it’s gone
Turn in your hymnals to hymn number one
It ain’t “Holy, Holy, Holy” — it’s “Fun, Fun, Fun”
Don’t need a Savior ’cause we got no flaws
They ain’t sins no more
They’re more like spiritual faux pas
I love that line about faux pas. But I can’t help sighing at the “I know something’s wrong/ something once was here, but now its gone.” Could it be the Holy Spirit? Bottom line, there has got to be something between the R.G. Lee “There’s a Pay Day Someday” preaching as our one message to relationship with the world and that warning about “itching ears.”
Baby Christians should ask: “Is the Porn Industry a Culture?”
Heather Veitch is an ex-stripper whose new ministry is to go to strip clubs and pay for private lap dances and then try to have a conversation about Jesus. Not the first attempt to be all things to all porn stars Reaching people where they are when they wouldn’t give a normal Gospel conversation the time of day has something right about it. And XXX Church’s ministry to porn addicts and porn stars is admirable (their X3 accountability software is a Godsend.) But among my problems with Heather’s ministry is that after looking at her website and looking at the promo for the documentary “Pussycat Preacher,” she is a baby Christian. And she may be qualified to talk about the evils and mistakes of the sex industry but she isn’t spiritually mature enough to disciple anyone. I know that some plant, and some harvest and all, but any ministry requires both. When we encourage immature Christians to just go out and engage a post Christian world with nothing but a testimony, an admirable passion for those in their former situation, and think “how great” we do them a disservice. As evidence, notice how many celebrity conversions end up with the celebrity in question becoming nothing more than a tabloid joke. Heather herself seems to be passing out the milk of her testimony without really getting the meat of discipleship. She divorced her husband because of mental illness caused by brain cancer and now is dating someone who ostensibly isn’t even a Christian. Heather passes out copies of her documentary at porn conventions and she happily remarks that “guys just grab them thinking their porn but they get a gospel message.” Anybody want to be the next Christian that guy meets after he gets home and finds out “Pussycat Preacher” isn’t what he was looking for? I’ll let you guys comment on what’s really wrong with the lapdance outreach . . .
But Pastor, Why Do they Hate Us so Much . . .
TownHall.com columnist Mike Adams reports that in a survey of college professors from universities all over the country, 53% of college faculty view evangelical students unfavorably. Mormons are next at 33% followed by Muslims at 22%. Adams lets it sink in: “Let me put this in proper perspective: In the United States of America, professors are two and a half times more likely to view evangelical Christian students unfavorably than Muslim students.” Now I understand Jesus’ “they will hate you because they hate me” but is that all that’s at work here? Consider also that in another survey of professors in the humanities of major universities found that left-leaning professors outnumbered those on the right 14 to 1. I just did an impromptu survey of my own department which is a veritable nest of libertarians, and I got what I suspected. Evangelicals are looked at unfavorably not because of the activity of evangelism, but rather that they represent what the left considers a “hugely influential” voting power that has as its major legislative agenda changing the moral character of people who think their character is just fine thank you. As one of my non-Christian friends put it: “It’s not your evangelism that’s the problem. I can converse with you or not. It’s the presumption that I’m wicked if I don’t agree with you about gay marriage, abortion, etc. that I find offensive.” Of course when I point out that most of us here in the ivory tower “evangelize” about any number of ideologies daily and I ask if those on the other side should feel equally offended, that I get head-scratching and silence. But usually I also get something else. I get a conversation. As I write this, I just had a great conversation with a fellow philosopher that started with Why do professors hate evangelicals and ended with I think him admitting that if I truly believe he is lost without God, I have a duty to try and convince him to give up his belief and become a Christian. Do you hear that Brian McLaren? Now that’s conversation. . .