Bullhorns, relationships, and repentance | Part 2

Last time we looked at two supposedly opposing views – what Rob Bell said in the Nooma 009 | Bullhorn and the philosophies of Ray Comfort and his The Way of the Master ministry. In the first part I told you how I agree with Rob Bell – I don’t think that open air preaching like what “Bullhorn Guy” does is effective in the western culture. [As a side note, I think that most of the time what Ray Comfort and Co. do is not the same as what Rob is talking about in Bullhorn.] So in this post is the opposite of the first – how I agree with Ray Comfort, and some dangers of the side of the coin that Rob Bell represents.

At my church, the Orchard, a few months ago Pastor Rich did a message series called Life in the Balance, dealing with such issues as the balance between faith and works, between love and justice, etc. The point of the series was that often times the two are two sides of the same coin, and we should live with a healthy balance between the two.

I think the same thing applies to this situation. On one side you have what we talked about last time, the danger of being so intent on getting people to turn from their sins that you come across as so rude that no one wants anything to do with your gospel, or worse, your God. This extreme often tends to reduce the gospel to nothing more than a way to escape from God’s wrath, and makes becoming a disciple into a one-time historical event. 

But at the other end of this continuum (what a great word, BTW!) on the side of the Bullhorn Nooma, there is a danger of being so relational that you never get around to sharing the gospel, and being so afraid of offending people that you never help them understand the bad news so that they can truly appreciate the Good News.

I grew up seeing many “Christian” people use the guise of “relational evangelism” as an excuse to sit on their blessed assurance and do nothing while people all around them were hopeless without Christ in both this life and the next. There was nothing more frustrating to me than to see people who said, “I like to show people Christ through my life rather than talking about Him!” Quite honestly, that excuse of a Christian life makes me nauseous, and I think there’s Scriptural evidence that it does God, as well! After all, you don’t see Jesus living His life as an example to the exclusion of talking with them about spiritual matters. It’s both and, not either or. One is completely anemic without the other. 

On this side of things there is also a tendency to avoid talking about sin and repentance – a dangerous phenomenon. Often times we strip the gospel of its convicting power because we neglect to use the Law to show people how sinful they are. We are too afraid of being offensive. But here’s the deal – without a relationship, it often is offensive, but in a serious conversation with a friend, it rarely is. It’s natural to talk with people about the depravity of the human race and how we fall so horribly short of God’s standard of holiness.

But the one thing that bothers me most about the relational end of the evangelism continuum is its lack of urgency. As you can tell, I definitely believe that a one-on-one, relational approach to evangelism is best and the most effective. But I have sat in worship gatherings with people who with tears streaming down their face as they talked about their father or friend or brother or whoever that they had a close relationship with but never got around to sharing the good news with them. And now it’s too late.

So there you have it – I agree with two people who don’t agree with each other. I thought this was going to be a two part post, but I guess now it’s going to be a three part one, because I don’t want to leave it unresolved… so for next time, how do we get a good balance between these two sides of the Kingdom building coin? 

Let the commenting begin!

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~ by lukewil86 on July 30, 2007.

8 Responses to “Bullhorns, relationships, and repentance | Part 2”

  1. Cool man. I like your synthesis of the two “opposing” ideas. Good work! Looking forward to your next post!

  2. I like this quote from W.T. Purkiser:

    “Faith is more than thinking something is true. Faith is thinking something is true to the extent that we act on it.”

  3. Great post. I’m going to save this “series” on my computer (that is anticipating that you don’t mind me “borrowing” your copyright…) as a reference. As you know, I really want to get more active about sharing my Friend, and it’s great to get some more clarification about it. I have more I’d like to say, but I think I’ll save it for an (eventual) post on my own blog…if i don’t, I’d probably find out of WordPress has a character limit for blog comments. 🙂

    ‘I grew up seeing many “Christian” people use the guise of “relational evangelism” as an excuse to sit on their blessed assurance and do nothing while people all around them were hopeless without Christ in both this life and the next.’ I so fully agree with this! That bugs me so much…

    I’d had more I wanted to say on here, too, but I can’t remember right now. :s

  4. Another really interesting post. I’ll look forward to your third post on this, although I wonder if it’s perhaps better to live in the paradox on this issue. Some things just can’t be nailed down too neatly, but I hope that you can pull it off here.

  5. Come on part three! I’m kinda bummed I had to drop my personal evangelism class, but then again, my earliest class is at 11:30.

  6. Haha, Danny! You poor boy…having to get up so early. :p It is too bad to lose the class, though.

    I can’t wait for part three, either…I know that Luke’s busy, but I hope it isn’t too long in coming. 🙂 However, as I haven’t really posted on my blog in about 2 weeks, I can’t complain…

  7. I agree with Danny. COME ON PART THREE!!!

  8. Three cheers for Part Three!

    Haha, you know, Luke, most people don’t get posts begged for…you’re pretty special. 🙂

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