"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Why Argue With Brothers When The Real Battle Is For the Gospel?

Though this story is several years old, I thought it a good reminder to us all that the gospel is what unites us as Southern Baptists, and it is the gospel that causes others to get angry with us. It would be wonderful if we joined together for the sake of the gospel and kept the main thing the main thing. The following is from Chick Publications:

"A series of booklets issued by the Southern Baptist Convention has drawn unprecedented reaction from the liberal media, mainline religious leaders and members of congress. The booklets are issued as prayer guides urging Southern Baptists to pray for and reach out to non-Christians such as Jews, Muslims and Hindus.

The booklets use the customary evangelism language pointing out that Hindus are "lost in the hopeless darkness of Hinduism" and calls for Christians to bring them to the light of Christ.

Reactions have been surprisingly strong and from unexpected quarters. Major Jewish organizations, Liberal Christian groups, and U.S. Hindu leaders accused the Baptists of "spiritual intolerance" and "theological genocide."

The Washington Post claimed that the SBC was launching "a new, aggressive campaign aimed at converting Jews to Christianity."

A spokesman for the Jewish Anti-Defamation League accused the Southern Baptists of "A spiritual narrowness that invites theological hatred."

"It is pure arrogance for any religion to assume that they hold 'the truth,'" he added. "It is permissible for any religion to claim truth but none can claim 'the truth.'"

Taking up the cause of the Hindus, a U.S. congressman, Jim McDermott, wrote a "dear colleague" letter on official congressional stationery to all 434 fellow congressmen asking their help in urging Southern Baptists to "end your conversion campaign directed to members of the Hindu faith."

McDermott and six other congressmen followed up with a letter to Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee. "We cannot understand how men and women, raised and educated in the world's bastion of religious freedom and tolerance can characterize another religion as spiritually dark and false," they wrote.

Chapman responded, pointing out that using a government office to pressure Christians to stop obeying the great commission was "improper and reprehensible." "Your letter presents us with a real dilemma," he wrote. "Do we attempt to obey God, or do we take our signals...from persons such as you who counsel 'a more tolerant and enlightened' approach?"

On another front the SBC is also being accused by Chicago religious leaders of contributing to a "climate conducive to hate crimes" by calling for a large evangelistic campaign there next summer.

As America becomes increasingly "post Christian," the gospel becomes an offense and preaching Christ gets labeled as a "hate crime." But Christians have been there before. When Peter and John were commanded by the "religious leaders" in Jerusalem not to preach Christ they could only respond: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye."

Soul winners, the shadows are lengthening. We have much work to do while it is day for the night is coming."

In His Grace,



Anonymous said...

It all comes down to attitude. We, as Southern Baptists, are often "puffed up" when engaging in world evangelism. We often become arrogant because we have truth on our side, and our attitudes fall to the side of "defensive". It happens in the local church, as well as the national convention. We confess Christ to other religions, political liberals, and homosexuals with a chip on our shoulder. This is where we get labeled as "intolerant" or "aggressive" in the cultural spotlight. I truly believe that there is persecution (more from inside the institution than out, at this point). However, much of it we have brought upon ourselves because our attitude is "I'm right", instead of "I love". Our IMB and NAMB missionaries are doing it with humility and love based on the point of view of Grace. Many of our local churches are doing it with the point of view of enforcing morality through legalism. That, I believe, is what's taking the fuel out of our evangelism efforts. It's not a pure Gospel. It's weak. If we reduce the Gospel message to moral issues, we've lost the battle. Morality is conncected with sin. Sin shows us to be hypocrites. Hypocrites cannot witness. We must share the Gospel in the understanding of Grace, which humbles us as sinners, and gives hope to the sinner out there that they don't have to do the work (and fail), because Christ did the work. Just something to think about.


Kevin Bussey said...

It won't be long until we will be in jail for what we preach on Sundays. We had better get busy!

K. Elijah Layfield said...

Thanks for this post, Wade.

sembrador said...

Pastor Wade,

Thanks so much for your post. I have spent lots of time in New Orleans witnessing, and I agree to an extent with anonymous. I have watched as so called evangelists have humiliated those who were trying to escape the emptiness of life without God. During Marti Gras, evangelicals are on every corner, or at least were when I was in Seminary. Some shared because they had compassion on the listener, while others were apparently angry at them because of who and where they were.

However, if someone happened to walk down the street, and see Christians with a message of hatred on one corner, and on the next, Christians who had compassion, the ones that they would remember would be the ones that preached from anger. I believe that this is especially true for those who are running from God. One man came up to me and asked how he could know my message was true. He said that he was raised in a communistic society and had read the tracts, and also the Bible. He asked how he could know that God was real. I responded, "ask Him to reveal Himself." The man smiled warmly, shook my hand and walked off. God is very competent to work in spite of our failures.

Paul said some preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes and will rejoice.

The truth is, that when we talk about the fact that they will be judged one day for their sins, and they are blind to the truth, it is offensive. The gospel is offensive whether in love or anger, it's message is offensive. Who enjoys telling someone else that they are wrong about anything? I know that some enjoy it, I do not.

Because the gospel is offensive, and some offend, we all pay the price. Jesus stated, that no slave is greater than his master, they hated me, they will hate you as well.

Suppose in summary, I'd say preach Jesus in love. Let's love each other first, then have compassion for the people. Let's use the daytime to sow the precious seeds of the God's word He may choose to sprinkle it with blood, if so He is sovereign and we win! If not, He is sovereign and We win!

In His service,

blampp@juno.com said...

Great comments..... and a reminder for all that we share where to get fed from the "Bread of Life" and HE provided it as "Grace" which draws us to the "Truth"...which is, of course.... HIMSELF!

GeneMBridges said...

One of my two blogging duties includes Triablogue, where we regularly engage skeptics. Some are just out and out apostates. One of them, Matthew Green from Debunking Christianity, has stated:

"I have already spoken elsewhere what the personal consequences for me would be if I came to conclude the Christian gospel was valid: I would take my own life; I would see no reason to delay the inevitability of Hell. Never-the-less I enjoy a challenge and the more confrontational it is, the more I love to rise to the challenge, especially if answering it means putting confrontational Christian apologists in their places and just shutting them up!"

Yes, you read that correctly. Read it one more time and let it sink in really, really well.

Now, think about this y'all. This is what lurks in the human heart. He's saying that if the gospel was proven true (and I would argue it has been from the beginning) he will kill himself in order to go to hell. Bluntly, "It ain't without reason that the subtext about sin in the Bible is that it is insanity."

Lest I sound harsh and unfair, this isn't just Mr. Green or the average Village Atheist, this is you and me without the grace of God. This is the folks we work with every day that don't know Jesus. This is why we pray for lost friends and family and other folks we love, some of whom we have never seen in person. This why we have an IMB and an NAMB. This is why in my church we're going to the park on a regular basis this summer and fall to talk to the New Agers. This is why I write and do internet apologetics. This is why we are here on this earth and not taken to heaven as soon as God saves us.

Mr. Green just has the courage to say these things, which most unregenerate people would not dare to say. I have to applaud his candor, though his conclusion is obviously heinous and makes him truly worthy of the condemnation that he is heaping upon himself as not only an unbeliever, but an apostate at that. The more you know, the more you reject, the worse the judgment will be. Unfortunately, many rank and file atheists out there don't pay attention to real atheistic secular scholarship (there is such a thing) and instead pay attention to people like Mr. Green who are often more radical in what they produce than atheistic secular scholarship. Green and the people at Debunking Christianity give them more information than Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and other skeptics, because these folks write material that appeals to their baser instincts, and in the unregenerate heart, that's a persuasive argument...and believe me, the people that comment on that website pat each other on the back for this kind of statement, so the insanity is collective. Truly, the inmates are in control of the asylum.

While the SBC is parsing the finer points of the meaning of the "oinos" and questioning each others lineage inside the denomination, and while one side is inferring that Presbyterians and others who differ with them, sub-Christian, this is what's going on in the real world. This is why talking about the nature of saving faith and soteriology is significant too...because these things touch on the gospel, its presentation, the way we do church discipline, the way we live and worship, the very message that we take to the lost people around us, who, in Mr. Green's words, would just as soon kill themselves if they found out that the gospel was true as have to deal with it. This, folks, is why I believe God must change the heart through the Word of God in order for a man to believe.

Tim Sweatman said...

I remember when this story hit the news. I could understand Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and other non-Christians being offended, but to hear people who claim to be Christians condemn us for trying to lead people of other religions to faith in Christ was simply incredible. No wonder Christianity is on the decline in America, if that many professing Christians have abandoned one of the most important parts of the Christian faith.

I agree with anonymous that part of the problem is that we are personally offensive in our efforts to spread the gospel. It's one thing for someone to be offended by the gospel; it's something else entirely for someone to be offended because we act like pompous jerks.

Terry Hamblin said...

The population of Hell increases daily at an alarming rate. The only possible reasons that Christians do nothing about winning the lost are either that they don't believe it or they don't care.

C. T. Lillies said...


you need to post that somewhere out in the open. Seriously. I mean nail it to the church house door. I can't remember who said it but "Everybody's Eichmann."

"parsing oinos" that was so painful it was funny.


annie said...

Thanks guys for the great contribution to this Sunday's lesson. Can't wait to "preach" it!

Greg Cloud said...


Our modern day society, and "liberal" (for lack of a better term) Christian organizations are highly critical toward things which they think might hurt other peoples' feelings. (This when Jesus Himself was threatened with stoning for insinuating the unrepentant folks he was talking to on the temple grounds were children of the devil--can't get much more confrontational than that)

They misinterpret the scripture, thinking true Christians must be unassuming, approving and respectful of the "truth" according to anyone--that it must be "right for them". That would be a good row to hoe if one was not sure of The Truth, as the ADL rep apparently wasn't in his response in the article.

But the central issue here is The Truth vs opinion. If we as Christians have THE Truth, we are obligated to share it--nay, we would be indeed criminal not to. However, we as Christians over time have so often mixed our own human opinions into the Truth, and calling the whole thing "the truth", defended our opinion with violence and vehemence unbefitting of disciples of Christ. Looking at this foolishness from the outside, the world fails to see the beauty of the Gospel, and sees only other people fighting and being militant over another set of human opinions--just like theirs. Who's opinion is better? Who can arrogantly say that your interpretation or opinion is better than mine? This turns people off. We are greatly guilty of this when we bicker over what Wade as aptly lumped together under the title of "unessentials". We camoflage the Gospel, and disguise its beauty.

The beauty of the Gospel is that in the fullness of time Jesus came to earth--according to the desire, foreknowledge and plan of the Creator God--to show us that God is a person who can be approached, known, and communicated with. God is not a philosophy, not an opinion, but a Person we can have a relationship with. He removed all that stood in the way of us having that relationship with God by His death on the cross, defeating our sin that would doom us, and by rising from the dead proving that God indeed is a living God, and providing us a way to approach Him and obtain that relationship. This is what no other so called "truth" provides--a way to meet God. We as followers of Christ just show them the way to obtain this relationship--God does the rest when they meet Him. No arguments, no philosophy, no opinions. Have you met Jesus Christ? Do you know forgiveness of your sins? Have you met, and bowed in allegiance to, the King of the Universe?