Friday, June 24, 2005

You Might Be a Paleoevangelical If . . . (#1)

. . . this and this make you want to retch.

14 comments:

G-Knee said...

maybe they've been reading old Hyles books???

NeoFundy said...

Or a NeoFundamentalist? We can retch together on this one...

Matt Black said...

Why are we "retching" on this? I understand that God will save whom He will as the Sovereign, but I for one am delighted with their soul-winning zeal. We are called to preach the Gospel to every creature. Perhaps you are retching because they are not preaching a Gospel of repentance? Not sure, since I read both articles and didn't see that. Or are you retching because they are setting a number and are using marketing and fan fare? I agree with you there, but I am delighted to see soul-winning zeal. Spurgeon said if we don't see souls won through our lives, we ought to doubt we are a Christian. I think 1 million souls is too low. "Every creature" sounds a bit better.
Matt Black
Madrid, Spain

Dave said...

Matt:

I can't speak for paleo, but as for myself, I offer two reasons:

(1) I do not see any biblical warrant for establish a numerical goal for the number of people that will be won to Christ and baptized in a given period of time. I doubt that anyone would be bothered by a biblical charge to preach the gospel to every person or a call to win people to Jesus Christ. But when you establish a numerical goal for something ultimately beyond your ability to accomplish (the salvation of souls is a divine work) you venture into a presumptious area. We have responsibility to use the God-appointed means, but we do not have power to produce the final product. When goals like this are established, it very easily descends into a humanly managed and manipulated situation.
(2) Baptism is an ordinance of the local church, not some convention. It is not good polity and it smacks of showmanship to "stage" baptisms at the convention as a motivational device for a program.

I rejoice in their zeal, but misguided zeal often leads to dangerous consequences. Too often a program like this produces shallow professions that darken the soul, not bring conversion to it. I doubt that Spurgeon would have been a big fan of this idea.

Matt Black said...

Dave:

I agree that "salvation is of the Lord," and after thinking through the articles again, the two inovations that you mentioned are certainly unnecesary and unbiblical. My point is that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water. We ought to be every bit as aggressive about evangelism as those with a false gospel--even more so, since we are promised that Christ's sheep WILL come to Him, and He will lose none. I do agree with your point and see what paleo was getting at. Thanks.

Matt Black
Madrid, Spain
www.spainharvest.com

Ben said...

Matt wrote: "My point is that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water."

[Insert your favorite "Did these people get baptized or just take a bath?" joke here.]

Matt,

I completely agree with Dave's comments, but I would go a step further. The kind of dramatic production employed here is simply a staged manipulation of emotions intended to move masses to manufacture conversions. My opinion is that this man-centered technique minimizes the majesty of God.

[sarcasm]Maybe the SBC's first option was to give everyone a copy of Let the Nations Be Glad, but at the last moment they decided not to because they didn't want to encourage people to follow Piper.[/sarcasm]

They say that the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. Think for a second about the kind of objectives and motivation employed by Neighborhood Bible Time, Awana, children's church, and youth ministries in the average gospel-preaching church. The 3-ring circus that was last Wednesday night in Nashville is nothing more than a higher-priced version of those programs targeted to pastors.

Should it be any surprise that these techniques are now being used to motivate adults to evangelism? I don't know if Frank Hamrick said this first, but I heard it first from him: "What it takes to attract them [to your youth ministry] is what it will take to keep them." Last week in Nashville we saw the consistent application of the widely-accepted student ministries methods applied to adult ministries. Perhaps that is why there aren't very many people in their 20s and 30s in many fundamental and SBC churches. The crowd that was weaned on the Broadway productions doesn't get what they want after they graduate from college so they go looking for it elsewhere.

I have no doubt that God will glorify His name through some conversions that take place because some people were motivated last week to witness. His ability to magnify His name despite these cheap tricks causes me to stand in awe of Him. But I don't see how people show respect for His name through these methods.

Side note: Some people who were at the convention were most disturbed by the shallow definition of salvation—simply praying a prayer, inviting Jesus into your life, etc. It shouldn't be surprising, perhaps, that people who seem to have a low view of divine sovereignty and a high view of human ability also have a low view of conversion and a high view of the effectiveness of contrived strategies.

unk said...

"Think for a second about the kind of objectives and motivation employed by Neighborhood Bible Time, Awana, children's church, and youth ministries in the average gospel-preaching church. The 3-ring circus that was last Wednesday night in Nashville is nothing more than a higher-priced version of those programs targeted to pastors."

Well put.

G-Knee said...

This situation reminds me of a situation I heard about in a different church when I was in H.S. At a women's conference they had women parading into the auditorium with "Miss America" type banners across their bodies. Instead of "Miss Texas" or "Miss Wisconsin", however, they had "100 souls" "250 souls" etc. representing the number of people they had lead to Christ....really sad. BUT I won't go so far to say they are doing this in this situation...however, they DO need to be careful...Solo De Gloria

Matt Black said...

Paleo:
Amen! I'm going through an evangelism course right now called "The Way of the Master" (Ray Comfort). One of the illustrations he uses is the false gospel that every one has a "God-shaped" hole in their heart. He gives the illustration of a man on a plane who is given a parachute because "it will improve his flight." When people begin to laugh and jest, and when he realizes that it hasn't improved his flight but brought him discomfort and mockery, he rips the parachute off his back and tells himself that it will be a long time before he ever puts one of those on again. Another man is given the parachute and told that at any moment he may have to exit the plane to a 25,000 foot drop. He gladly puts it on, and when people laugh and mock, it does not bother him, in fact when he tells them of the coming danger of the drop, some of them want parachutes too.

One stat that is mentioned is the fact that according to recent church records, 80 to 90 per cent of those who profess Christ fall away. Those who fall away are "saved" (though not saved at all) through wrong motives (better life, repeated simple prayer, etc.) A person can only be brought to Christ if he comes by seeing he has broken the Law (the Schoolmaster) of a holy, righteous God manifesting repentant faith in Christ. Essentially, the false gospel is a gospel of happiness or life improvement. The gospel of Christ is not one of happiness, but of righteousness and a right standing with God. How many at that SBC would present that to lost people?

If we bring people to Christ through the Law, we will have people broken over their sin, and clinging to Christ's righteousness. If we bring them with anything else, we preach a false Gospel.

You wrote: "What it takes to attract them [to your youth ministry] is what it will take to keep them." [Frank Hamerick]

So true...

MB

Sojourner said...

As a Southern Baptist pastor, I guess that I should have some sort of opinion on this. I do, and they are many, but I will restrain myself.

The first thing that I thought of is that this endeavor is nothing new. I think that there was a similar campaign in 1954. The slogan was "a million more in 54."

The second thing is that my initial reaction was to think this: I wish Southern Baptists would lose a million members next year, too. After all, our church rolls are bloated beyond belief. We boast 16.4 million members, yet I would bet that we don't have a fifth that number in regular attendance. Much less that many being regenerate.

Maybe Southern Baptists should have this goal next year: This year, we're gonna return to the Biblical principle of church discipline! We're gonna hold people accountable for sins such as divorce, infidelity, stealing, gossip, and lying! This year, we're gonna see if we can't run the wolves out of the fold! Let's try to cut out 2 million people who are producing zero fruit! (Insert fireworks and cheering.)

Anyway, just a thought.

Ben said...

Sojourner,

I've heard some from the Founder's Movement say similar things. I shouldn't name names since this is semi-vague memory, but aren't some men openly criticizing the dishonesty of those numbers?

Do you sense that the trend towards church discipline is growing stronger in the SBC? I know it's taught quite aggressively and forcefully at SEBTS, and I suspect that at least Mohler and Patterson at SBTS and SWBTS are pushing it pretty hard, too.

Sojourner said...

Honestly, I do not know. I did, however, just graduate from SEBTS, and I know that this is something that people are talking about. Now, whether anyone is able to implement it successfully (that is, without quickly being shown the door) is another matter altogether.

I know that my church has 400+ on the role, 274 "resident membership, and about 135-150 on Sunday mornings. If the numbers of "total" SBCers reflect close to this trend, then the numbers are seriously inflated. (By the way, this has been the norm in almost every Church I've been in that's SBC.)

Here's what really makes me uneasy and often downright depressed. We have these bloated Church rolls because Church membership means next to nothing. The average Southern Baptist chuch accepts members "with a hearty amen" at the end of a service when they walk the aisle. The guy could be an axe murderer for all they know.

As for evangelism, it is very shallow at best. Raise your hand, say a prayer, congratulations you're going to heaven.

And theology...oh man it's bad out there. I have tremendous sympathy for the Founder's Movement. It's not that the average Southern Baptist has necessarily rejected the Doctrines of Grace, they don't even know what they are! Reasoned rejection I could handle, quite honestly. It's the blank stare that drives me bonkers. There is simply a theological blank in the minds of most Southern Baptists.

Truly, I am not trying to be mean. It's simply the truth. I am pastoring a church now, and I have worked in several SBC Churches in the past eight years. This has been the case everywhere I've been.

We want to add a million more people? How about we try to get 1/4 of our non-attending members to show up! That would probably equal 2 million right there. It just makes me sad.

I know that we should be sharing the gospel. (And many are!) But it seems to me that the average Southern Baptist is dying for lack of theology, which equates with a lack of knowledge about the greatness of God. That's robbery, man.

Here's my last bit on this rambling comment. Hebrews 6 tells us that we need to move on past the "elementary" things. Specifically laying the foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God, baptismal instructions, laying of of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. Those elementary things...well, our people do not know them. And we steal from them precious comforts and joys and motivations by not teaching them.

I simply wish our leaders would exhort us to be steadfast in teaching the people the Word of God and let the Father worry about the numbers.

Sojourner said...

By the way, it is past my bedtime. Please forgive the rambling and the typos. I'm so embarrassed.:)

Ben said...

Great stuff, Sojourner. You'll enjoy this interview, even if there is a Presbyterian on it. The other two guys are SBC. ;-) Ascol makes many of the same points you do.