Really? We're Still Doing it This Way?

Tonight after supper the boys and I went out to the park for a while. When we arrived back there was something hanging on our doorknob. I had noticed one on another apartment door when we came into the building. Ours says, "HI THERE!" complete with a picture of the Grim Reaper on the front.

The first half of the booklet is about a construction worker named Charlie hanging out with his buddies during a lunch break. Someone tells Charlie to go to hell, so he and his buddies go into this big discussion on hell and heaven and God. Their summary is that the Bible isn't believable, all religions are the same, and we all evolved from the sea, so we're all going back to the earth when we die anyway.

Then, by a twist of fate Charlie falls off the building he's working on (thanks to a visit from the Grim Reaper) and goes to hell. He then gets told that he made big mistakes in not believing in Jesus and will stay in hell. This lesson is complete with the King James version (I don't have anything against the version per se--but, really? God speaks only with 17th century English language?) and a lesson about premillenialism.

The booklet ends with a picture of the Grim Reaper saying, "I'll be seeing you!" and warnings that "the majority of the people who read this story will end up like Charlie Conners" (which I think overestimates who will actually read the booklet) and "This may be your last chance to receive Him as your Savior."

Everything in the booklet is backed up with footnotes with Scripture references. But let's face it, the people who this booklet is trying to reach aren't likely to pick up a Bible to see what those verses actually say (and why should they? Who wants to make sure the Bible backs up these statements saying that they deserve to go to hell).

The very back of the booklet says, "compliments of . . . _______" and then it lists the church from the neighborhood who took the time to reach out to our apartment building with these booklets. I'm not going to go on a tirade against this particular church (the boys and I went there for a Christmas Eve service and it was nice--though the church's sign last summer read, "Think this is hot? Then don't go to hell"); my problem is that too many people think this type of evangelism is acceptable--and that it works. I mean, I'm turned off by it and I follow Jesus.

Other than the pastor talking to me a little before and after the Christmas Eve service, I've never met anyone who goes to this church. Wasn't Jesus' method of evangelism hanging out with people? While we were hanging out in the park I was talking with another stay-at-home dad. He doesn't know I've been in the ministry or even that I follow Jesus at this point. I don't know him that well, but our boys were playing together and we talked. I know that he's not religious in any way. I know he'd like to find a middle ground between being zealously religious and not religious at all. I'm willing to share my faith with him, but I'm not going to push it on him at this point. I know there's an immediacy to believing in God (any of us can die at any point), but I also believe that I need to have a relationship with this guy or he's going to be turned off once again by religion. And he's getting to know me as I get to know him. He knows he can talk to me and I'll listen. He knows I'm not going to belittle his beliefs. So for now I'm just going to love on him. And pray that works better than a booklet about whey God would send him to hell.

1 comment:

SueAtGraceCorner said...

Dave, I had a similar reaction recently when I read Greg Boyd's book, Letters from a Skeptic. I admired his apologetics (he's very good at explaining complex theological concepts) but as the book progressed, it became very obvious that Boyd's primary concern was simply getting his father to "believe" so he could be "saved" and go to heaven, end of story. There was nothing about being conformed to the likeness of Christ in the here and now, nothing about participating in God's gracious work in the world. It seemed so incomplete and ... self-serving, I guess. Isn't "eternity" already in full swing, and shouldn't we be purposefully living in God's presence NOW in the midst of life?