And, some crankiness.

I have my pet peeves as an agnostic, and they may not show often but they’re about to. Reading Lee Strobel On Outreach: Shortchanging the Good News, two of my biggest annoyances got tweaked.

1. Strobel said, “The secular world sees zero value in preaching the Gospel to the spiritually needy.” Argh. I’ll just put on my Representative Of The Secular World hat and say that that’s crap. As a secular person, it’s not that there’s zero value; I’d say the secular world doesn’t take much of a position on that. But it does see meeting people’s needs (for food, for medicine, for help of all kinds) as the thing to do first, before focusing on the Gospel. And it does have a big, big problem with anyone who thinks it’s okay to make listening to the Gospel a condition of rendering said help. To me, it’s more admirable to help for its own sake, as you would want to be helped, and to talk about the gospel afterward. When people need help, they’re vulnerable and they’re afraid, and it’s easy to take advantage of them without meaning to.

2. Strobel mentions Christians “who cannot bring themselves to take the personal risk of sharing Jesus with the hell-bound co-worker who sits day after day in the cubicle right next to them.” Whatever your personal beliefs on hell, why would you think of someone else as hellbound? First of all, you don’t know, not really. Second of all, how unbelievably insulting to proceed from the presumption that you know God’s will for anybody when it’s so hard to even know God’s will for yourself! Those of us who don’t share your spiritual beliefs would really appreciate not being thought of as “hellbound.” It may be true and it may be false, but it says more about you than it does about the person you’ve so casually judged.


6 Responses to “And, some crankiness.”

  1. 1 Glenn May 10, 2007 at 5:45 pm


    You hit the nail on the head and, if fact, you seem to understand the Gospel better than many of those writing about it.

    The Gospel or Good News about Christ is a a way of living and being good news, not some sort of sales pitch.

    I think a better approach is getting to know and love the fellow worker and showing her Jesus’ love which may lead to opportunity to tell your story and His story.

    You made an important observation. Thanks!

  2. 2 tobeme May 10, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Well said. It is not about hear the “word” so to speak, it is all about showing the “love”.

  3. 3 Chuck Warnock May 10, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Holly, thanks for your response to Lee Strobel. Lee’s got two problems — he sees the world as us and “them” (secular, hellbound), and he thinks the gospel is more spiritual than practical. Funny that Jesus never ever said anybody was “hellbound.” But Jesus did say that when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, and care for the sick that we were doing it “unto him.” Seems like you’re a better theologian than Lee is, at least in my book. Have a great weekend in the Windy City! — Chuck

  4. 4 sprocket23 May 12, 2007 at 4:18 am

    I think this all depends on your worldview: let me try to explain. Let’s pretend that you think that the bible teaches that those who die without being forgiven of their sins through Jesus Christ (and him alone) will spend eternity in hell. The bible does teach that (I’ll spare you all the verses). Therefore, you would believe that the MOST important (and LOVING) thing that you could do would be to share the Gospel with those who are “lost” so that they could live forever. What could be more important? Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, lead him to Jesus and he lives for all eternity.
    Of course, this does not excuse the Christian from ALSO tending to the physical needs of the world. And you’re right, the physical help should be given out of love, not as a means to guilt or compel someone into listening to the Gospel. A true Christian will BOTH feed the hungry AND share the Gospel.
    Rather than be offended at someone trying to save the “hellbound”, you should consider it the greatest show of love: they love you enough to try to save you from what they believe is your fate without Jesus: hell. True evangelism is not about trying to convince people that their way is right but is rather about trying to show people the way to eternal life. Calling someone “hellbound” is not a judgment on their character, rather, it is what the bible teaches is the fate of those who do not have their sins forgiven by God through Jesus. According to evangelical belief, some really “good” people will end up in hell because they did not believe in Jesus and ask him for forgiveness. None of us is good enough to be saved on our own merit.
    Hope this helps to show why people insist on preaching to what they consider the “hellbound”; done right, it is an act of love, not arrogance (though I admit, there are a LOT of arrogant Christians!).

  1. 1 Holly makes a point, cranky or not « Confessions of A Small-Church Pastor Trackback on May 10, 2007 at 10:07 pm
  2. 2 Agnostics, Hell, and Evangelism « Paul Peterson Trackback on May 16, 2007 at 10:55 am

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