Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Should We Use "Good Things" to Attract Unbelievers for Evangelism?

Once again, I have places I visit with the interest of contemporary theological matters. I decided to comment here about a program a pastor considered for the stated cause of evangelism. Sometimes this is called "outreach." I've noticed in evangelicalism and often in fundamentalism that almost anything under the heading of "outreach" becomes acceptable by falling under the mere label. Here was this pastor's idea, as written in his post:


Still, we’re wanting to supplement individual outreach with corporate outreach more effectively than we have in the past. One idea I hope we can apply this year is a “Community Messiah Sing.” My intention is to schedule a time early in December in which we invite people from our community to gather at our church building (a) to sing popular portions of Handel’s Messiah together, unrehearsed and with no thought of a performance, (b) to have some refreshments, and (c) to hear a brief discussion of the history and theology of the great work, which will include a clear gospel presentation.

We need to work on the details and viability of it. Have you ever done something like this? Do you have suggestions that would help make it more effective? Or do you have other ideas for outreach via this sort of community event?


And I was against this? Am I the Scrooge? Was I one of those Philadelphia fans who booed Santa Claus? Am I William Safire's nattering nabob of negativity?

Was I against singing Handel's Messiah? Of course not. I'm not finding it unusual for discussions to break down in this way. It's easier to debate the strawman. Or in the end, that I'm opposing the invitation of unbelievers to a Scripture recitation. OK. I'd rather not play that game. I refuse to follow that yellow brick road with its fictional characters. There's enough for people to judge, so they will need to do that.

We should think about this, because a discussion about offering a community Messiah sing-a-long parallels with the question with which I titled this post. As long as the thing we are using to attract unbelievers to church isn't sinful, is it permissible? Is it wrong, does it violate God's Word, to use an attraction natural to unbelievers to compel an unbeliever to a church, to an assembly of believers? If the answer is "yes," then coffee, cappaccino, candy, soda pop, jumpers, parties, pizza, jet man, hockey, breakfast-lunch-supper, basketball, a rodeo, a zoo trip, a kite, a snow cone, a foot long hot dog, cotton candy, a dunking machine, a movie, water balloons, small toys, and even cash all are acceptable to attract an unbeliever to come visit. In principle, it is the same. None of these things are wrong or sinful. And since they are not wrong or sinful, then they are permissible to use to motivate an unbeliever to church perhaps to hear the gospel.

If that is true, then why do these evangelicals and many fundamentalists have a problem with the methodology of Jack Hyles? In principle, they are not practicing different than him and his movement of fundamentalism. Hyles would have made the same argument, and Schaap still would, that is, if there's nothing wrong with it, then it should be fine to use to attract people to church.

Music remains a big tool for churches to use to get unbelievers into their building. It isn't anything like that in the Bible, but it has become what churches use to motivate people to come to their church. Rick Warren himself in his Purpose Driven Church said music was the single biggest factor for the attraction of unbelievers, which is why he used pop as the music of choice. Some of you reading might say, "Well, I'd not ever use pop music in church." Great. But why music period? I do believe that the music program is often developed as an incentive for unbelievers---"come and hear our orchestra," "you'll really like our music," "our music is really good." That alone confuses people about what music is about. Should that matter? Should it matter that people don't know what church music is? That they think it is evangelistic? And then with that as a reason to come, it shouldn't be any wonder why church music is sliding downward.

In this case, it is Handel's Messiah. Handel's Messiah, however, will attract a certain segment of unbelievers. That's the whole point of this pastor's promotion, which the fundamentalists that read his blog just ate up. Mainly I was attacked for disagreeing. I got no support in the comment section for opposing what he was doing. I'm on the board of two orchestras, so I know the classical music crowd. Many unsaved people are still interested in classical music. Handel's Messiah is beautiful art, very well done classical music. Many like singing it because of the sheer artistic value. I've been in the choir for The Messiah 7 times. I've heard it performed 7 other times. The Messiah fans are the crowd that the pastor who wrote the above paragraph was targeting. The promotion was the sing-a-long, something that we know communities are interested in, because they come together in the hundreds in places like San Francisco, where there are very few believers, to participate. People love the music. Sacred music has a prominent place in music history. Most of the world's great symphonies still play some of the wonderful music without having any interest in Jesus Himself.

So the attraction isn't the recitation of Scripture, any more than a gigantic group gathered in downtown San Francisco for a free concert featuring an opera about Herod's murder of John the Baptist. I was there. People weren't interested in what John the Baptist preached. Should we explain what he did? Yes. Should we preach the Messiah of The Messiah? Yes. But should we invite unbelievers to come and sing The Messiah? No. They can't praise God. A church should see The Messiah as worship. They don't want unbelievers included in worship. I wouldn't ever invite an unbeliever to come and sing with us. I don't want him thinking he can worship. Ever.

"But if we invite unbelievers to sing-a-long, we'll have an opportunity to preach the gospel to them?" It might work in that way. However, it is not truthful for us to give them any impression that they should come to a church to sing a song of sacred worship. It spoils the worship. It also sees music as evangelistic, which it isn't anywhere in scripture. And as an important side note, it is entertainment to them. They think it is entertaining. We know that. Perhaps most of all, however, if we want to preach the gospel to them, then we should just preach the gospel to them. You may say, "Well, they're not interested." Exactly. In the end, if they did get saved, someone will say it was because of the promotion, because of the neat idea. No it wasn't. It was because of the gospel. But you can see how that man is glorified through these types of ideas. They aren't in scripture. We think of them. Our idea worked! The Greeks seek after wisdom. The Jews seek after signs. Classical music afficianados seek after Handel's Messiah.

One pastor named Larry, offered this commentary:


Though I have heard it argued against many times, I am still not sure what the problem is with attracting people to hear the gospel. What else will we do? How else will they hear if we don’t attract them? Repelling them won’t work, and ignoring them hasn’t had great results either. It seems to me that people think “attraction=sin.” Attraction simply means getting their attention. If you aren’t baiting and switching (promoting the pizza party and then ambushing them with Jesus), I am not sure there is any biblical injunction at stake here. If you are substituting corporate worship for attractional evangelism, then I think you have a problem. But in reality, any personal evangelism takes place based on some type of attraction, whether personal or topical or conversational.

To me the issue is what we attract them with and what we give up to do it. If we attract them with the Gospel, the relevance of the gospel to life, then I am not sure what the problem is. If we give up our corporate worship or teaching, then we have a problem.

But if you don’t attract them, then what will we do to speak to them?


I wrote this comment back to him:


How will they hear without attraction? Jesus doesn’t make attraction an issue. We go and cast seed. Whether people want it or not depends on the condition of their hearts—some stony, some thorny, some hard, some good soil. They won’t hear, not because we haven’t perfected the art of attraction, but because of the condition of their hearts. Nowhere that I know of does Scripture command us to attract unbelievers. We go and preach to them, mainly because they aren’t attracted. We’ve got to go to them, because they won’t come to us. We go into the highways and hedges to compel them, but it isn’t to compel them to come to church, but into the kingdom. What compels them? It isn’t natural attraction. It is supernatural power from the gospel.

Let’s just say that I go out into my community and I say that it’s about the Jesus of the Bible—He’s Lord, He’s God, He’s Savior—and that’s what our church is about. I find out that people aren’t interested in that, in Him, even though Jesus is greater than anything. Paul said everything else was “dung” (Philip 3). I might be able to attract an unbeliever with a lesser thing, but if what I am offering is all about Jesus, why would I want to do that? If they don’t want Jesus, do we work up to Him by starting with things that the unbeliever wants that are less than Jesus? This seems to be carnal weaponry that won’t glorify God. In the long run, it will fall too, even if it seems to be working in the short term.


I was softer on Larry than I actually was thinking about what he said. I happen to know that he has an M. Div. from a prestigious fundamentalist institution. What he said was very, very bad. Another interesting point is that these fundamentalists didn't even pick up on that. What he said sounded good to them, and several of them are even self-identifying Calvinists. I read a woeful lack of discernment there, maybe the old boys club where if you disagree too much you'll be on the outside looking in.

Larry ends by asking this question: "But if you don't attract them, then what will we (sic) do to speak to them?" This seems so obvious as to be absurd. You can't speak to unsaved people without attracting them? I've been in what many would consider the hardest territory in the U.S. evangelizing for over twenty years. If you want to talk to them, you just talk to them. If they don't want to listen, that means they aren't interested in the gospel. They've got to want to be interested in the gospel. It seems plain to me from reading Larry's question that evangelicals and fundamentalists have been duped by some serious deception about evangelism. They think that you've got to help the gospel along with natural attractions, or maybe we could just call it what Finney did: "new measures." Larry would probably say he's death on Finney, but his question was fully Finney.

The reason unbelievers won't listen isn't because they lack attraction. The gospel is attractive. It is the pearl of great price. If they don't want to trade their earthly treasures for it, then offering an earthly treasure as an incentive isn't right. Jesus answered why believers don't get the gospel in Luke 13:24. They won't strive to enter through the narrow gate. They won't agonize (the Greek word for "strive" is agonizomai). Jesus didn't try to make the gospel more attractive or attract people to it, however you want to say it. He just preached it.

Christian leaders today know that professing believers don't want to preach, so they want to make it easier, so they have what they call "corporate evangelism." That sounds like a great term, very technical, but what is it? It's just mumbo-jumbo, gobblygook. Now if they meant, everyone in the church preaching the gospel to every creature---that is corporate evangelism---that would be great. But what they mean is that everybody comes together at church and the church arranges some shindig that they think unbelievers will like, and they invite them to it. It is bait and switch. The unbelievers aren't coming to hear the gospel. They are not. What you do with this is produce faithless people. You don't build them up to live for the Lord. You give them an alternative that is easier for them to do that isn't spirit-controlled boldness.


I'll probably write a second one on this, because I think it is a good time to do it, so stay tuned.

26 comments:

Charles E. Whisnant said...

Isn't the church for believers? Does God require or even ask unbelievers to worship Him? No. So why are we so interesting in getting unsaved people to come and worship together.

We want to see the lost people saved for sure but they can't worship with us as unto the Lord.

We want lost people to come to our services of course, but when they come we will preach/teaching the Word.

"Outreach" means to go out and reach those who need Christ, and reach out to them with the gospel of Christ.

Larry said...

Charles,

You have correctly characterized the conversation at My Two Cents. That is exactly what was said there. Chris (nor anyone else to my recollection) never suggested getting unbelievers to come and worship. Chris specifically spoke of preaching and teaching the word to them when they come. Unfortunately, Kent has not done such a good job recounting the conversation.

I debated whether to respond or not. Since my name was mentioned, I wrote quite a lengthy response last night. I will edit it considerably here.

1. If Kent thinks what I said was "fully Finney" then he doesn't understand what I said, or doesn't understand Finney, or doesn't understand either. What I said has nothing to do with Finney. I suppose it may help Kent's point to connect it with the dreaded Finney, but it won't help his accuracy. It simply isn't true.

2. My point about attraction was in the context of three option: attract, ignore, repel. Now, which shall we do to talk to people? You can't talk to them if you ignore them. You can't talk to them if you repel them. That leaves only one option. The point is simple and far from being absurd is self-evident. Why Kent thought it was absurd is beyond me, unless he simply misunderstood the point. He assumes "attraction=sin" something I specifically rejected. Attraction means not ignoring and not repelling. You talk to people like you actually want to interact with them. You invite a response from them.

3. When you look at biblical evangelism (by that, I mean evangelism that is actually in the Bible, as opposed to what is often talked about), you see that quite frequently it is filled with "attraction," a believer talking to an unbeliever about a matter of interest. It often results in rejection, but it is never based on ignoring or repelling. Paul went to the synagogue where he talked to them about their matter of interest--the Messiah in the OT. He went to Mars Hill and talked to them about their matter of interest (gods and religion). In both cases, he attracted their attention and then preached the gospel to them, with mixed results. In Col 4:2 he commands us to let our speech toward outsiders be seasoned with salt. That is exactly the point of attraction, as I used it. So Kent clearly misunderstood (since I assume he did not intentionally misrepresent), and as a result wrong a long blog post that almost completely misses the point.

4. Kent speaks of bait and switch, but that would only be applicable if Chris failed to talk about the Messiah once people were there. When you invite them to a session about the Messiah and then talk about the Messiah, that's not bait and switch. It's only a bait and switch if you end up not talking about the Messiah.

So this response by Kent was completely different than his interaction there, and it is very disappointing. He did a much better job over there in many respects.

So let's be clear on this: I do not think that Kent has done a fair job of recounting the conversation there, or of interacting with it here.

Chris Anderson said...

Kent, you're responding to that thread like Walter Mitty, seeing battles where there are none. Take it easy.

You were treated with more kindness than you show here. I mentioned that I considered your perspective, but for reasons I listed came to a different conclusion. Ben actually agreed with you, as did Scott, essentially. But people coming to a different conclusion isn't insulting---it's just disagreeing. You're not a martyr.

Further, to present the argument as though I'm selling the gospel or pawning it off as a side item via a cheap trick is inaccurate and nearly slanderous. If we pursue this, we'll have people sing beloved songs that quote Scripture, then explain (for the first time for many) what those Scriptures mean. Because we believe in the power of the Scriptures, whether spoken or sung. Unless you ask the visitors to your Christmas services not to sing next year, I don't understand your beef. But even if you disagree (which is fine; others did, too), you don't need to come off as though we're doing some scandalous thing or as if you alone are defending the faith.

Come on, Elijah. Not all other knees have bowed to Baal. :) Seriously, a little grace wouldn't hurt.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Charles,

Exactly.

Larry,

I recognize you were talking to Charles and only mentioning me in the third person :-), in classic fundamentalism fashion. I wag my head at that kind of silliness, where you speak to my post by addressing Charles. People are welcome to read it all and compare your version above with what was said. People have the ability to evaluate and English words still do have meaning to many. You're trying to operate on both sides of the issue, which leaves room to go either way. That kind of triangulation does work today, but it doesn't change the fact that you can't do it in the real world, which happens to be God's world.

Chris,

You were nice to me at your blog. I was nice to you. I didn't argue there because I'm pretty sure it isn't welcome. However, it is welcome here. I also treat you nice here. Disagreeing with you and going after your position isn't being mean to you. If you really like what you're doing, you should be happy about it. If you think my evaluation is not valid, then you won't have a problem continuing as you are. People arguing on a position doesn't mean that they don't like the person or are mistreating him. I would hope that you could get that. And it doesn't mean that I'm going through a syndrome. That's where I ask: "What is it with you guys?"

There is no Elijah syndrome at all. I pin the needle on joy and happiness. Rejoice evermore. My record of lack of support (Ben showed willingness to be neutral, Scott showed none) wasn't about my feelings---I think that's how fundamentalists unfortunately typically interpret things---but about the unwillingness to question or challenge. That alone is a whole discussion separate from this one.

You and I are clashing on your sing-a-long and ideas like it. Your saying that people coming to church and singing at Christmas time is the same really does show a gigantic disconnect here, talking in two different dimensions. They are not the same. We don't invite unsaved people to come and participate in a sing-a-long at our church. An unsaved person may visit our church, but we haven't designed anything in particular for him to attract him. We do what we do.

You are saying that the sing-a-long is not worship. Singing the Messiah is not worship. Is it worship or is it not worship? It's a tough one here. Because if it isn't worship, then why sing it? Are we just singing about the Messiah, not to God? No matter how you frame this, I've got a problem with it. You are welcome to dig in your heels, but I don't have to like it. And if I don't, that doesn't mean I have a syndrome. That kind of thing doesn't work with me. I think it still works in FBF circles or whatever the fundamentalist circles are, but it doesn't work here. Perhaps you'll be able to get there where you can tell someone what you think without thinking that it is intended to personally offend.

You're all welcome to discuss it here.

Larry said...

Kent,

Only the first part of my post was directed to Charles. The second part was directed to readers generally about your approach. It wasn't intended to sidestep anything. If you like, I will rewrite it with "you" instead of "Kent." :) I am not sure what "classic fundamentalist fashion" is when it doesn't involve a suit and tie (it's a joke ... I own seven suits and probably 100 ties). But seriously, I am not sure what that means. My post was intended to address issues, not personalities. But somehow, I think that's not really a big issue.

I welcome your interaction on it. I am not sure what you mean by trying to be on both sides of the issue. I would welcome the chance to clarify that once I know what it means. I certainly want to be on God's side here, and I am willing to be corrected where my understanding is faulty.

Chris Anderson said...

Kent,

Our interactions, whether here or on my blog, are almost always tense. It's not good for me, and I'm sure it's not good for those who read. I'm glad to acknowledge that I'm as much to blame as anyone. It's probably best if we just give each other a wide berth and avoid each other's blogs.

Blessings as you point people Christ-ward.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

Don't we generally ask our people to invite others to our services? Maybe we should suggest to our members that they might clarify the reason they are asked to come. "Our preacher teaches us from the Bible, and we would like you to come and hear him." I am sure they would say, "Why should I want to hear him?" As you said, unbelievers don't want to hear the Gospel.

Nevertheless, I don't believe we should bait and switch on people who come to church. But we should also desire people to attend our service.

Unsaved people come to our services for a number of reasons, for sure, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will address their need of a new birth while we are speaking.

In our services we specifically address in our preaching the text in which we are in that Sunday. Those who visit are welcome to listen and we pray that the Spirit will awaken their spirit unto salvation.

Since I am not a classic fundamentalist, I don't give an "invitation" "altar call", in the classic sense. But the call of the Spirit is open to all who come. And some have answered that call following the service.

The issue become, is the Lord please with our worship style and preaching. Don't you believe the Lord is as much please with worship that brings Him glory and praise as He is with our teaching.?

Joshua said...

Chris,

I know you're probably gone, but I think you're misreading Kent's intentions because he vehemently disagrees with you and has written that here in no uncertain terms.

I don't think he's misrepresented anybody. I followed the link and read your original post and comments. I could see that Pastor Brandenburg was being careful not to start a ruckus, which was good. It's just that for most of Fundamentalism, that's ALL they want him to say. Look at Larry's comment:

"So this response by Kent was completely different than his interaction there, and it is very disappointing. He did a much better job over there in many respects."

It sounds like folks just wanted him to offer a few pleasant "different-angle" thoughts and then be done. To his credit, that's all he did there. He went to his own blog to put down solid disagreement - I thought it was a mature way of handling it.

Larry, in point 3 you mentioned attracting unbelievers - and then gave two Biblical examples where Paul went outside the church to find unbelievers and preach to them. That's exactly what Kent is arguing should be done. No one wants to repel them, but it's the luring them to church services with things that appeal to their flesh to give them the gospel that is wrong. Do you have any Biblical examples that actually contradict what Kent is arguing?

Kent Brandenburg said...

I'm going to answer Larry here, but Chris and Charles first, because there's less to say. Chris, I don't have the compulsion only to congratulate you for what you write. I might disagree and you don't take that well---that's where the tension lies. I'm lured to your blog only by SI's blogroll, when I see a title that interests me. I'll try to resist, and leave you to Dan Philips and others, people with whom you have greater affinity. I would hope that your readers could handle some tension, but I'll take your word for it.

Charles, I agree with most of what you've said. I'm fine with our people inviting people to church, but we train them to preach the gospel. The invitation is a second or maybe last resort. It isn't a strategy.

Larry,

I've got to think that you understand when you are addressing me with a long comment to Charles. Possum or feigned incredulity doesn't play. It's a kind of gamesmanship that political fundamentalists have become notorious for. That's what I'm saying.

Here are both sides of the issue: Finney's "new measures" were human manipulation, so you can't be anti-Finney and be for human manipulation. I'll explain the two sides again later.

We've got lots of statements that tell me that both you and Chris know what I'm talking about. Chris isn't inviting people in for a "recitation of Scripture." That was a later description of a sing-a-long to justify it. The sing-a-long, not a recite-a-long, is something secular people do with what they see as high art like Handel's Messiah. That's the appeal. Churches should sing to worship, but in this case that purpose will be sublimated for reason of the attraction of the music to a lost person. The real reason is to get the unbelievers in the door, hence the bait and switch. We don't believe unbelievers can worship, but we'll have them come in to sing in this instance, knowing why we're using the music.

What has me knowing you know about it is that you say that he invites them in for The Messiah (the oratorio) and then talks about the Messiah (the person, Jesus). You know that in the minds of unbelievers, those two "the Messiah"s are not one and the same. The first is Handel's music, his high art, and the second is the Jesus of the Bible, Whom unbelievers are not coming to hear about. We should not give unbelievers the impression that a sing-a-long of the Messiah is valid for them in our church context.

You don't get to be against the promotion and marketing techniques on one hand and then do it yourself. You are either against it or you are for it. That also explains the two sides. Also it is either worship or it isn't. If it is worship, then we don't invite unbelievers to sing. Now it is possible we might be inconsistent on this, but when we are called on it, we shouldn't act like we don't know what I'm talking about.

Thanks Larry.

Larry said...

Kent,

There seems to be some continued confusion. I wasn't addressing you in a long comment to Charles. I made a short comment to Charles, and then a longer comment directed to readers in general. I already explained that once, so I am not sure why you repeat something that was untrue the first time, was gently clarified. Now you have repeated it again knowing that it wasn't true. I don't get to decide much in life, but I do get to decide what I was doing with my words. It's basic hermeneutics.

Secondly, nothing I have said encourages human manipulation. I am totally opposed to human manipulation. In fact, I am so opposed to human manipulation that I find it hard to ask someone to pray immediately after hearing the gospel. I don't give public invitations. I don't tell a lot of stories and the like. So you are quite wrong that my comment was "fully Finney." Of course, you probably know that.

As for what Chris is doing, I don't know what it will end up being, but I would encourage you to wait and see before you pass judgment on something that is in the planning stages and is 10 months away. I realize you won't be able to go on a diatribe like this about it if you find out it wasn't what you think it was. And it's a whole lot easier to shoot now before you find out later. But here, 10 months ahead, Chris clarified for you what his intent was and what his plans were. You should accept therefore that the reading of Scripture is not secondary, and the explanation is not a bait and switch.

And before you assume that the Messiah is hidden inside The Messiah, you again should probably wait. I know you want to be a fundamentalist and that usually involves making snap judgments in public without benefit of knowledge, but it would be wiser perhaps to wait and see. If I were doing it, I would advertise it as being a singing of the Messiah with an explanation of what it's all about. That way, people know up front what it is. I imagine Chris will do the same thing.

I am not against promotion. You probably aren't either. I am against marketing. You probably are too. They are not the same thing. So they are two sides, and I am on one of them, not on the other.

Lastly, you talk about a "church context." But as I recall (without going back to look), Chris is not planning this in a church context, but rather in an event outside the church meetings. Again, a vital distinction when we recognize that the church is people, and a church worship service is church people worshiping, and a church may do something that is not intended only for the church and is not intended to be worship. Not everything that goes on in a church building is a church context.

However, I am not sure why a church cannot plan something for the purpose of presenting the gospel to unbelievers. That's what happened in ACts 2, when the 120 who were the church gathered while Peter preached to those outside the church. You have yet to show any biblical reason why a church cannot have some forum of addressing unbelievers corporately. I would be interested to see it. If your objection is to the church exchanging the worship for evangelism, then you will have to get behind a long line of people who already object to that, myself included. Otherwise, we agree on that. I agree that people should preach the gospel individually. I have been hammering that since September in our midweeks and for about half that time on Sunday morning. It will be part of the message this Sunday morning.

I am sure you are probably familiar with most of these distinctions.

Thanks, Kent

Claymore said...

The matter of Mars' Hill is an interesting point - Paul did not go there volitionally: he was brought there to tell of his philosophy (that was all that the Athenians saw in the Gospel, a philosophy). I think this argument is moot. Concerning Paul going to the Synagogues, the reason he went there was to give the gospel first to the Jews, as Scripture is clear that it must needs be first to them and then to the Gentiles. One should note though that when they began to blaspheme, he turned from them. In comparison, using "bait" in any form I think implies deception - it certainly detracts from the glory of God. What bait was used by the church in the Catacombs? What was it about being thrown to lions that attracted unbelievers to look into the Gospel? The bait was how well the Christians knew how to die for their Lord - they did not fear death because of their godly living. Godly living becomes the "attraction" to Christianity.

Larry said...

Several quick points in response:

To Joshua: Kent hasn't, so far as I can see, put down any solid disagreement with what Chris suggested based on the Bible. If you look at his use of Scripture, it has been pretty minimal and surface. And he has avoided a number of issues. Personally, I don't care what he says, but he clearly did misrepresent at the very least me, by likening me to Finney, when he knows better, and by accusing me of trying to be on both sides, when he knew, or at least should have known, that wasn't the case.

Secondly, he misrepresented Chris when he talked about bait and switch, luring with "The Messiah" and then talking about the Messiah when they came. Yet read what Chris actually said:

My intention is to schedule a time early in December in which we invite people from our community to gather at our church building (a) to sing popular portions of Handel’s Messiah together, unrehearsed and with no thought of a performance, (b) to have some refreshments, and (c) to hear a brief discussion of the history and theology of the great work, which will include a clear gospel presentation.

You can clearly see that Chris's intent from the beginning was to be clear about the gospel. The charge of bait and switch was false.

Thirdly, concerning "outside the church," there is no indication from Chris that he intended to do this in a church worship service. So there is yet another misrepresentation, that somehow Chris was intending to replace a church service with this (assuming that would be wrong anyway). What would be wrong with singing the Messiah in a church worship service, and inviting unbelievers to be there? Singing along isn't worship. We should all know that by looking at the people in our churches who sing along but aren't worshiping.

Fourthly, Chris never gave any indication of "luring them to church with things that appeal to their flesh." Neither did I. So there is yet another misrepresentation.

I don't have any biblical examples that contradict what Kent is doing. I think what he is doing is right. I do it myself. And he doesn't have any biblical examples that contradict what Chris suggested, or what I suggested.

To Claymore: Acts 17:17-18 say that Paul was there conversing with these men voluntarily in the marketplace and they invited him to Mars Hill. So the exchange started with Paul's initiative of being in Athens, and being where people where. He was not forced there against his will. And he was obviously attractive to them in some sense. They said they wanted to hear more from him.

The point of Paul going out of their midst indicates probably that he was done with his message. But there certainly is a place where scoffers mean that preaching is no longer viable. And then you turn. Nothing I have said is the least contradictory about that.

I have not suggested the use of "bait" and neither did anyone else there that I saw. So that is a straw man, at least in this discussion. You should bring that up with someone who believes that.

So I think again, even in these two responses, you see just how badly things were misrepresented. And we see how badly Scripture is being used (or not used) in order to argue a point.

Listen, no one there that I saw is suggesting that we replace the worship of the church with a time for unbelievers, or that we invite unbelievers to worship God. I don't think we should.

No one is suggesting some kind of bait and switch. I think that is wrong, and BTW, my very first comment over there addressed that very issue.

No one is suggesting that corporate evangelism replace personal individual evangelism to let people off the hook for their personal obedience.

So a more thoughtful interaction would be appropriate rather than a kneejerk reaction that misrepresents what people say and believe.

Kent Brandenburg said...

For Larry's last two comments, I'm going to answer one paragraph at a time.

First, I'll take your word for it on your address to Charles that changed to an address to readers about me in mid-comment. In my second comment about this, I was answering your question about how fundamentalist you were being; hence, the continued mention.

Second, you said nothing you said encourages manipulation. I'll mainly leave that to my readers as they reread your comment in the above post. That tells the story well enough. Reminiscent of Romans 10:15, you ask: "How else will they hear if we don't attract them?" Something is off there—what do you think? How about, "How will they hear without a preacher?" Scripture says nothing about attracting the loss. We cast seed; we preach. The manipulation is gathering a crowd based on natural attraction.

Third, I passed judgment on what Chris said he would do. Period. The bait is the sing-a-long, inviting unsaved people to a sing-a-long of Handel's Messiah.

Fourth, I didn't make a judgment on anything but what Chris said, so I would say I had the benefit of knowledge.

Fifth, it depends on how you define promotion and I didn't define it. But you're right, if promotion is letting people know about an event, I'm not against it.

Sixth, church context is that Chris' church is operating it and promoting it, and so in that context, it confuses about worship, a church inviting unbelievers to sing a sacred song.

Seventh, I've already said I believe that mass evangelism is appropriate, inviting people to hear preaching. That was never the problem with Chris' idea and I was clear about that.

Eighth, I had several scriptural comments at Chris' blog. I had more than in the two paragraphs above, but I'll number them:
1. Reference to Rom 10:15—How will they hear without attraction?
2. Reference to Jesus' methods—Jesus doesn't make attraction an issue.
3. Reference to parable of the soils (Mt. 13)—We go and cast seed. Whether people want it or not depends on the condition of their hearts—some stony, some thorny, some hard, some good soil. They won't hear, not because we haven't perfected the art of attraction, but because of the condition of their hearts.
4. Reference to Jesus' parable in Luke 14—We go into the highways and hedges to compel them, but it isn't to compel them to come to church, but into the kingdom.
5. Reference to Rom 1:16—It is supernatural power from the gospel.
6. Reference to Philippians 3— Paul said everything else was "dung" (Philip 3).
7. Reference to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5—This seems to be carnal weaponry that won't glorify God. In the long run, it will fall too, even if it seems to be working in the short term.
In the blog post itself, I also referenced:
8. Luke 13:24
9. The parable of the pearl of great price.
10. 1 Corinthians 1:22
I'd gladly do much more.

Ninth, as I understand it, it is bait and switch. Unsaved people come for the sing-a-long. Chris originally used the terminology bait and switch; my biggest issue was with the unconverted being invited to sing.

Ten, if singing Handel's Messiah isn't intended as worship by a church, that's a problem. It's then taking the Lord's name in vain.

Eleven, you put quotes around my saying that Chris was appealing to the flesh. I said it was a natural attraction. But I'll say it now, I think it appeals to the flesh. I never said that you said it though. I don't think you would say you're going to do that.

Twelve, I'm very fine with people judging as to whether Chris or yourself were misrepresented.

Thanks Larry.

Larry said...

1. I said nothing that encourages manipulation and you know it. If I had, you would have quoted it.

2. My comment about hearing was not similar to Romans 10:15. I only addressed a common sense issue of communication. I explained what I meant by attract, and you want to go on with your own understanding rather than mine. But Romans 10:15 is helpful particular in light of Col 4:6: The preacher must have gracious speech. Do you disagree? If not, then you don’t disagree with my comment on attraction.

3. Manipulation is not gathering a crowd based on natural attraction. Manipulation is using unscrupulous methods to achieve an outcome. (Look it up.)

4. Why is it wrong to use bait?

5. There is no reason to confuse this with worship. Most people don’t consider everything a church does to be worship, and they shouldn’t. If you can’t invite unbelievers to a “church context,” then we have a great problem because you can’t invite them to anything a church does. But you don’t have a problem with that. Even inviting them to preaching is inviting them to worship because preaching is worship. So, it seems to me that you can’t invite them to preaching because you are inviting them to worship, and to participate in it by listening and responding. I think you need to give this some more thought.

7. Your scriptural references don’t all accurately use Scripture, they don’t all address this issue, and you didn’t really make any point with them in many cases. You said the pearl of great price is the gospel; Jesus said it is the kingdom. You said Jesus doesn’t make attraction the issue. Yet Jesus was attractive to people by the way that he taught; People were impressed and they wanted to hear more. Furthermore, Paul did make attraction an issue as I already showed. You talk about carnal weaponry, but you haven’t shown how inviting people to sing about the Messiah and to hear about the Messiah is carnal. So, you can see that there are numerous problems with these mentions of Scripture. Throwing out references isn’t really the issue. Interaction is.

8. If you understand this as bait and switch, then you need to increase your understanding. Bait and switch is when you invite people to one thing when you intend to do something else. In advertising, it is when you invite people to buy product A, but when you get there you are really selling product B. In this case, Chris is inviting people to come and sing about the Messiah and hear what it means. So he isn’t switching to anything.

9. There is nothing sinful about unconverted singing that I know of. If you have a verse on that, I will be glad to entertain it.

10. Why is it taking the Lord’s name in vain if the Messiah isn’t sung as worship? Taking the Lord’s name in vain means to use it lightly, or to use it for something he wouldn’t use it for. I don’t know how the Messiah fits into that. If an unbeliever reading it causes it to be used in vain, then an unbeliever can’t read anything having to do with the Lord’s name, and thus can’t even read Scripture. Absurd? I am sure you will say so, but why? Why can an unbeliever read Scripture without using the Lord’s name in vain, but can’t read the Messiah?

11. I didn’t put quotes around your saying that Chris was appealing to the flesh. I was quoting Joshua, not you. But I have never heard anyone argue that The Messiah appeals to the flesh. That’s an interesting one.

12. It has been fairly conclusively shown that there was misrepresentation, and you should rectify it. It’s what people do when they are wrong. It is consistent with the gospel not to let things stand when they have been shown to be incorrect. Even your ridiculous photo was an attempt to misrepresent the issue. You know better than that, or at least you should.

With that, I think this conversation is probably over. I continue to be disappointed at the way in which this was carried out. It’s one thing to disagree on the propriety of something. It’s entirely different thing for you to say the things you have said when they are clearly wrong.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Larry and everyone else reading,

If we were talking in private, I would chalk this conversation up to a stubborn man, who didn't want to admit he was wrong. The value of doing it in public is the opportunity for people to judge, to see how issues get maneuvered and spun. The point of my post is to deal with the subject of using "good things" in order to get unsaved people to a meeting. This has been a big practice in evangelicalism since revivalism, and in fundamentalism at a high rate especially for the last fifty years. I use Chris' situation for a few reasons: (1) It probably seems like the most innocent of situations compared to a sno-cone or footlong hot dog, (2) His branch of fundamentalism would criticize Hyles for doing the same type of thing, so they could evaluate it based on principle here instead of on personality. In fundamentalism, however, the principles matter less than the personalities.

Here's everything in a capsule: Chris Anderson, pastor in Ohio of a fundamental Bible church, asked for some suggestions for a particular promotion he wanted to run in order to make an evangelistic opportunity. He would have a sing-a-long of Handel's Messiah. The point of this was to get unsaved people in with his church, unconverted ones who loved this particular musical composition. These unconverted would come in and sing their part, as happens in one of these sing-a-longs. The promotion was the sing-a-long. A church would be inviting unsaved people to sing-a-long on this sacred song. They would also serve refreshments, and they would also have an explanation of the Messiah with a gospel presentation. The point of the sing-a-long is to preach the gospel. The people coming will not come to hear the gospel preached, but for the sing-a-long. If you had a promotion that said simply "come and hear the gospel preached," few to no one would come. The catch, the bait, is singing the oratorio with a bunch of other people. That's fun for people, enjoyable. Any thinking person knows that's what this is all about. But questions still arise.

end of pt. 1

Kent Brandenburg said...

cont'

Did Jesus use this kind of methodology? No. Did Paul? No. You say that they "attracted" people, and by that, you mean that they talked in a way that would help people understand the gospel, used illustrations, etc. That's nothing like what we're talking about here. Nothing. So you use the word "attract" in the context of Chris' promotion and then parallel it with something like Jesus using water to illustrate eternal life. There is attraction in Scripture, but it isn't in the line of a promotion like Chris is using, which is a marketing approach. You use some kind of thing people in the world will like to lure people in. And the question is, "Is this permissible if it is a good thing?" Well, were signs wrong? No. Was wisdom wrong? No. But Paul said that he would still keep going with the offensive and not try to attract with natural means. Paul didn't come with excellency of speech and so on. Why? Because then God's doesn't get the glory. This is the point I've made again and again. You do a good job of stirring up the dust, Larry, and in the end from sheer exasperation, someone just says, "Forget it, I'm not going to try to argue with a guy that makes apples into oranges and into beans." It's not an honest way of discussion, unacceptable to me, and that's why I wouldn't want to keep going with it. You've done a good enough job of showing people how it gets done which has been worth a brief amount of time.

Just preaching isn't good enough today. We've got to do these programs. We should ask "why?" Jesus never used them. Sure, he did signs and wonders, but those were in fulfillment of the Word of God to show He had the credentials for the prophesied Messiah. Once He did enough of those to get that purpose accomplished, He stopped.

I'm not going to play the shell game with you in which we're talking about "attraction" in the realm of what Chris' is doing and then it's turned into attractive gracious speech. In this case manipulation is gathering a crowd based on natural attraction. That is manipulation. I don't need to look it up. It's not wrong to use bait, but it is wrong to use the wrong bait. The right bait is the gospel. That's what fishing is.

Obviously you aren't "confusing" singing Handel's Messiah with worship. Yes, I believe unsaved people who sing it are singing it in vain. And in a promotion like Chris', his church is encouraging it. People will have to judge on the bait and switch. It doesn't matter what you call it. It's wrong. Psalm 66:18 is specifically about God not hearing praise of the unsaved. Of course, I wasn't saying that Handel's Messiah itself per se appeals to the flesh, but that the oratorio appeals to the flesh of an unconverted person. Saved people who sing it to God are not singing it in the flesh. Unsaved people are. What I think is very bad about what Chris is doing is using such a great, sacred song as a promotion. And you've stated your case that you like it.

What I have said is right and you choose to muddle it about any way you can. I'll let others characterize it. You're wrong about misrepresentation. People who misrepresent don't talk to the person directly and then link to his post and quote large paragraphs. I represented it very well. I'm also very happy right now because this pleases the Lord to bring out this scriptural point.

Larry said...

Kent,

There are several issues here that go to the heart of biblical ethics. In debating how to address this, I am not sure this is the right way, and I am fairly sure that it will not be well received by you, but I will say it anyway.

1. The issue of stubbornness – You would be right to chalk it up to that. But you perhaps omit yourself. You are very stubborn, as am I. And for the same reasons (defending our words) and for different reason (I am defending my words against your misrepresentation). So yes, this is a matter of the truth about what someone else said, and I am fairly stubborn that if you are going to quote me and talk about what I said that you actually talk about what I meant by what I said. You haven’t. And you don’t get to attach your meaning to my words, even if it is your blog.

You are so stubborn that when I say you are “misrepresenting me, here’s the truth,” you continue with what you first said anyway. You are so stubborn that when I define a word according to the dictionary, you use it a different way and then say you don’t need to look it up. You obviously do. I cited multiple cases of misrepresentation.

2. The issues of ethics in argumentation – It is unethical to use someone word’s and make them mean something that they do not mean. Here’s a little rule of thumb: If the person you are arguing against says, “That’s not what I am saying,” you are misrepresenting them, no matter how sincere or stubborn you are, and no matter how right your point may be (or not be). It is, as you say, “not an honest way of discussion.” It is “unacceptable to me.” And that’s why I addressed it and have come back to address it several times. It is important in Christian conversation to get another person’s position right even when we disagree.

Cutting and pasting large paragraphs, as you refer to in your last paragraph is no guarantee that you haven’t misrepresented. Anyone can cut and paste. It takes more to thoughtfully interact. You did not represent it very well, and using the Lord’s name as confirmation of that certainly seems a violation of the third commandment.

Quite frankly, I don’t care what you believe. I am not being rude but you have a ministry that God has called you to and you must discharge according to your conscience. You won’t answer to me for it and I am glad about that. And I don’t care about what you think about what I believe. I am, as I said up front, honestly willing to listen to biblical confrontation and interaction (of which you have provided very little). I am willing to listen to people who make an argument, even against what I say. But I do care when you say I believe something that I in fact don’t believe.

If you want to argue about what you have said in this post, that is fine. Just take my name out of it because you are not arguing against me.

Larry said...

3. The issues of bait and switch – If you are against bait and switch, then I welcome you to what I have long believed. I am glad you agree. Please argue against it. I fail to see how inviting someone to come and sing the Messiah and hear about the Messiah is bait and switch unless you don’t tell them about the Messiah. I just don’t get that, and you haven’t explained it.

BTW, I am not even necessarily in favor of what Chris is doing. The more I think about it the more I am unsure about it. I am not sure where I said I like it, meaning the use of the Messiah. I am not sure it will work. I am not sure it is a good thing to do, but for some different reasons.

4. The issues of misrepresentation – I have repeatedly showed you where and how you misrepresented. I have used documented and concrete examples. You have unfortunately refused to acknowledge that you misread or misunderstood. I accept my failure to communicate clearly. It is hard to imagine all the possible ways in which someone can misconstrue what you say. But having been corrected several times, you should have acknowledged that.

I don’t think this exchange beginning with your blog post and the subsequent comments are pleasing to God and I don’t think they represent the gospel rightly. If you do, then perhaps we believe a very different gospel. I take responsibility for my part, in which I have demonstrated some impatience with you and your tactics. I have responded in kind when I should not have and for that I apologize and ask your forgiveness.

That does not change the simple fact however, that there are severe problems here. Some were created by my unclear communication in a quickly written comment that wasn’t meant to be a full explanation of something. Some of it was created by your attempt to argue against it.

Resolution: I think integrity and ethics calls on you to rewrite this post, correcting the misrepresentations in it. If you wish to simply delete my name and comments that you misrepresented and argue against Chris’s idea that is certainly fine. But to leave my comments there as if cutting and pasting large paragraphs.

So I will knock off here and give you the last word (unless your response really ticks me off :) ).

Don Johnson said...

Hey, Kent, not wanting to wade into the fray too much, but...

But in your argument that Paul and Jesus didn't use 'bait' to attract a crowd I think you may not be thinking about a few things.

1. Signs. Especially by Jesus but also by the apostles, signs drew crowds. In fact, most of the crowds who came to hear Jesus didn't come to hear Jesus - they wanted to see signs (or experience healing themselves). The Lord turned those desires into opportunities for teaching, calling people into the Kingdom. Most of them turned away, ultimately.

My point here is that the methodology of the NT may not be 'simply preaching' as you are suggesting it to be.

2. Selectivity. The Gospels and Acts don't record everything that happened. They record what the Holy Spirit wanted the human authors to record out of a vast body of material. A whole lot more ministry actually happened during the Lord's ministry and especially the apostolic period that just isn't recorded.

With that in mind, and keeping the fact of the presence of signs, I think it is hard to argue for a hard and fast rule against what Chris is proposing.

Finally, in comparing this proposal with the shenanigans of the Hylots et al, maybe you are right that the essential philosophy is the same, maybe not. As far as I am concerned, I am not against attempting to gain a hearing for the gospel by attracting people by legitimate events. I am against using complete tackiness as the event, but in the end, it is up to each local church to decide what tacky is.

FWIW.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Claymore said...

Larry, I do have a verse of Scripture for point no. 9 "There is nothing sinful about unconverted singing that I know of. If you have a verse on that, I will be glad to entertain it" You will find it in Solomon.

Proverbs 21:4 says that the plowing of the wicked is sin. Nothing of the natural man is at all pleasing to God. That was one of the reasons Handel did not allow his music to be sung in churches in his lifetime in the first place - though "Messiah" was written to the honour of Christ, he did not have it performed in the church.

I think the whole of Dr. Brandenburg's reasoning might be summed up this way - Is the message enough to attract? The message of John Wesley and Robert McCheyne was enough to attract, as it was backed by a godly life. If we hold to an orthodox message and a godly life, those two in combination will be an attraction. Just because something may "work" does not make it Scriptural - the only means of presenting the Gospel that Scripture endorses are preaching and teaching. If good or amoral things can be utilised for this - what stops men from going into buffoonery. An example would be pastors doing stupid things such as eating lunch atop the church roof. I speak tongue-in-cheek here, but one can almost see Paul saying that he will do this atop the temple of Athena, or give a fare to Alexandria to study from the library. The whole matter climaxes when he says that if they return to hear him in greater numbers tomorrow he will cover his sandals in fish slime. Humour aside, the principle of this is unbiblical.

Kent Brandenburg said...

First Claymore, Obviously I agree.

Don,

I appreciate your dealing with this. Almost anyone reading would say that's because I'm biased toward you, but no. You didn't say, "You're misrepresenting," etc. You just dealt with the point. I used Chris' deal as a springboard to talk about this subject, which I knew was not discussed among almost anyone, taboo. People crush Hyles, but thy don't deal with the principle. A few things stick out to me in your two arguments: signs and selectivity (if you added shenanigans, you would have had an alliterated three point outline).

On the sign argument, I already dealt with that in a short way in one of my comments. I wouldn't have expected you to read all of the commentary. Jesus didn't use signs like a promotion and marketing tool. I think this needs to be dealt with in depth by someone in a book sometime. I think this can be proven in a number of ways, but 1 cor 1, especially looking at v. 22, I believe, is a clincher. "Signs" are not a reason to motivate with something other than preaching the gospel. Jesus didn't keep feeding people. He didn't even keep casting out demons. He did signs for a period of time and then stopped because they had fulfilled their purpose. This would align itself with the arguments for cessationism. I think to make room for some kind of ploy to get people into your building with Jesus' and the apostles' signs as a basis badly interprets the point of the signs. I've been preaching through the gospels on Wednesday night for a long while. I preached Mark and went immediately into Luke. And I'm doing them very, very slow. I'll do John next. Jesus validated His Messianic credentials by doing miracles. He did not like or want the dog and pony show that it turned into. It was disgusting to Him that anyone would come for a sign. He said it was a wicked, adulterous, evil people that sought after them. He even doubted their faith, knowing they came for a sign.

OK, then on selectivity. Maybe we have a different view of the sufficiency of Scripture. I don't believe silence is permission.

I recognize that each local church has to decide if what they do is scrptural. I really, really believe that. But that doesn't mean that I accept what they do, hence the post I've written.

Thanks for the comment, Don.

Larry,

I find your comment very unsatisfactory, but it isn't because I haven't listened or read it carefully. I've read it closely. I even believe I know how you say that I've misrepresented you---I understand what you are saying. I still don't think so, however. It does motivate me to say more, but in full continued posts on the subject. I'm especially bothered by your explanation of "attraction" in the context of Chris' "attraction" and then paralleling that with Paul and Jesus as akin to what they did.

Don Johnson said...

Man, I always miss alliteration opportunities. I usually can only come up with two... and a poem? Forgetaboutit!

As for the signs, I agree that the Lord was not impressed with mere sign-followers. However, the use of signs had as part of its purpose the gathering of a crowd to hear the message. I think that is inescapable.

I don't believe silence is permission. And I realize that selectivity is the weaker of my two points. I am just thinking that there is no real commandment or even principle that argues against using events to gather a crowd. Thus both "sides" have to argue from silence.

Regarding preaching through the gospels, I am doing a harmony of the gospels in a seniors condo service we hold. I just did the first part of John 5 and noticed that the lame man Jesus healed was one of a "multitude" who were lame or had other conditions. Interesting. A whole crowd of sick people and Jesus healed one - and not a very nice one at that. That particular miracle seemed perhaps a bit less public than it might seem, only those in immediate hearing really knew what happened. The sign was more for the disciples (and the Jews who accosted the lame man) than for anyone else, it seems.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Claymore said...

Regarding the use of signs, signs are to the unbelievers, and were to be a proof of the truth of the message. In reality, the final attraction was the message and godliness of the Saviour. The point is rightly made that Christ weeded out those who followed Him because of seeking after signs (John 6). Another reason for them is to show what God is capable of doing in their lives. The healing of a blind man shows that He has power to heal spiritual blindness as well - the same for deafness. The healing of lepers shows how He cures sin as well (leprosy seems to be the only named disease to come upon a person because of sin - that is why the cleansing of a leper required a trespass offering, it was the offering for sins committed). They in no way show permission to utilise them in gathering crowds to hear the gospel - most will lose interest if that is the case.

d4v34x said...

Hi Bro. B.,

Our church is planning to have a medical trailer stop at our property and provide free screeinings to all comers. While there we would have gospel presentations set up (dvd players playing folks from our church sharing the gospel in the form of their testimony) for them to view as they wait in line. Any who wanted could then recieve gospel counseling (personal, private evangelism). We liken this to Jesus practice of meeting physical needs as he sought to meet spritual needs, even though it's not an exact analogy.

Thoughts? (c:

Reforming Baptist said...

I only had time to read the first 1/3rd of the post, but yes...you're right about this. I am sick of gimmicks and making the church a circus in order to "reach" people. We have been given the gospel - it is the power of God!

Larry said...

Quickly to Claymore

I think Prov 21:4 is not properly being used here. The point is that his whole way of life is displeasing to God. You seem to be saying that an unbeliever shouldn't sing because it doesn't please God for him to sing. But according to the verse, it doesn't please God for him to "plow," that is to make a living, to live a life. So should an unbeliever not do anything at all because it is all displeasing to God? That has some implications you like don't intend, but probably can't escape.

Should an unconverted person go to church to hear the gospel? Kent says they should. And he has likely done something that make it more attractive for them to come, like chairs, AC or heat, lights, greeting them when they come in, etc. (And if you say that's not attraction, then you clearly haven't understood the point I am making. ... And you should try having your service at 2:00 am, sitting on a cold concrete floor in January ... After all, if the gospel is the attraction surely people will come anyway right?)

But according to what it seems like you are saying, that would be displeasing to God for him to come to church and therefore he shouldn’t do it. Yet I don’t think you think that.

Should an unconverted person help a little old lady who has fallen in the street? According to you that would be unpleasing to God. Yet I think you should he should do that. You see, I think you have misused the proverb (probably by failing to take note of the genre of wisdom literature).

It is certainly true that natural man cannot please God. But I haven't said anything to the contrary. In fact, I firmly believe that an unconverted person cannot please God in any way apart from obedient submission to the gospel which is the result of the work of God in his life. But that doesn't mean that God doesn't use some type of means, such as the communication of the Word in the context of life to bring him to that point.

Again, this is where I think Kent's unwillingness to listen carefully to what I am saying causes him to make a big point that has nothing to do with the point I am making. And perhaps you, being persuaded by his comments, are also missing the point of what I am saying.

So I won’t belabor that here, but I think you have some problems with consistency here.

To Kent,

I wrote this last week and I should have posted it then, but I thought perhaps this would die down. Then this morning, I saw you had posted a follow up article.

My original post here was to ask that if you continue to write on this subject, feel free, but please do not use my name or my comments as an example since you have clearly not understood the point I am making. I will take responsibility for that through my unclear writing done in haste. Suffice it to say that even though you don’t think are misrepresenting me, I know what I mean far better than you do. And if I say that what I mean is not represented by your words, you should take that as evidence that you have an incorrect understanding of what I am saying and therefore should abandon the use of my words as an example to make your point.

Make your point all you wish. I may in fact agree with it. And if I don’t , I have no problem with disagreement.