Evangelism: telling the good news

by Richard on June 6, 2008

Three stories caught my eye today, all evangelism related.

Bene Diction has all you need to know about my staple late-night entertainment, God TV. If I wasn’t blogging, I’d be watching now. It isn’t as much fun as it used to be, though. When it got to 10:30 at night, I used to be able to rely on Pat Robertson and the 700 Club, but that’s all been bumped in favour of Todd Bentley and the goings-on in Lakeland. I did watch a little of it earlier, but having Mr Bentley shouting at me wasn’t helping me to recover from a Circuit finance meeting. Call me hyper-critical if you must, but I’ve rarely seen anything much I would call genuinely ‘good news’ here. “Missions Week” is about asking me for money, telling me what I’ll get if I’ll “sow a seed”. A year or two ago they invited me (not just me, it was a mass-mailing) to take part in an evangelistic tv event. But really what it was about was getting people to subscribe to God TV. Even the sainted Todd Bentley, while he’s shouting at what God wants to do for me, says that it’s only going to happen if I can enter into the faith that he has. In other words, my healing will depend not on God but, ultimately, on me. That’s not good news. There’s a message being spread, but let’s not call it evangelism.

Everyone’s favourite aussie, Ben Myers, has a link to the worst theology of any blog post, ever: Preaching hell for the comfort of angry people. It might not be the very worst ever — there’s some pretty grim stuff out there, Ben — but it has to be a contender. Not much good news there, either, so again, no evangelism.

Here’s some proper evangelism. David Hallam indicates he’ll be staying away from an ‘evangelistic event’ in Alum Rock, Birmingham. It seems that Christian Voice are organising a demo ’street witness’ in Birmingham’s Alum Rock, a largely Muslim neighbourhood. What prompts the protest ‘witness’ is an alleged incident in which a couple of (American) missionaries were prevented from evangelising in the area. (From what I read on the BBC, it seems that a Police Community Support Officer needs a bit more training. Certainly nothing to justify headlines about evangelism becoming illegal in Britain) Anyway, Christian Voice are doing their usual trick of getting up in arms over nothing and trying to stir things up a bit. Shame on them.

Where I disagree with David is the suggestion that ‘mainstream’ churches don’t have any right to criticise Christian Voice because at least they’re doing something. No. What they’re doing is not evangelism, because it isn’t about good news. They have a message, proclaimed loudly and boldly, of fear and suspicion. Bad news, not good.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1

fatprophet 06.06.08 at 7:42 am

I live in an area that is broadly similar to Alum Rock with a 36% black minority ethnic community in the last census, I have lived here and worked here for 24 years and I have to say that it is a very peaceful community where we live together quite happily. As with anywhere there may be the odd incident that occurs but generally nothing of an great concern.
In respect of the Christian Voice incident in Alum Rock I know nothing of the organisation and have to admit to never having heard of them until this incident was in the local press.
Like you Richard I do think this may be more of a case where a PCSO needs a little more training in how to deal with ‘difficult customers’ and I suspect it may be that this young man who was from the particular community may have felt the methodology of the preachers could have caused them some difficulty with local people.
Is this a case that has been massaged by the press and others into something far bigger than it was, or conversely is there a real underlying danger that this may be the start of something more insidious that will eat away at the freedoms we enjoy. One of our late local preachers often quoted Alfred Burke and it may be a relevant quote at this point ‘All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing’. I hope that this isn’t a case where evil is at work and will prevail because good people do nothing.

2

PamBG 06.06.08 at 9:24 am

I appreciate what you have to say here, Richard, as well as Ian’s cpmment here and David’s blog post (although, similar to what you say, I don’t accept that not engaging in commando evangelism tactics constitutes “not evangelising”).

I can see both sides of the story here but I don’t think we do our own communities or psyches any good when we keep repeating these stories about ’society is against us’.

Rubbish. First of all, Christian values are not supposed to be ‘worldly’ values. I have no idea why many Christians seem to speak as if they believe that the world is going to applaud and approve of our values. It shouldn’t do. Secondly, I honestly believe from personal experience that are lots and lots of people who are willing to talk about Christianity if we engage them in a respectful way. I believe that there are many more people who are willing to listen to a respectful presentation of the Gospel than people who automatically opposed. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot by repeating these ‘persecution stories’.

Secondly, grumbling about ‘persecution’ in this country and in the US seems to me to be disrespectful to our Christian brothers and sisters who are genuinely experiencing persecution. We are not persecuted and how dare we keep saying that we are.

3

Kim 06.06.08 at 11:28 am

Thanks for that, Richard - and Pam.

An “evangelistic event”? A form of mass mental cruelty (not to say incredulity).

American evangelists accused of “hate crime”? Yup, that about sums up the dys-evangel of many American evangelists abroad.

“Persecution”? An insult to the martyrs. Mind, if these guys would like a little physical abuse, I’d be happy to oblige with a kick in the ass.

Finally, on Ben Myers’ link to “the worst theology of any blog post ever”, I have left a comment at “Faith and Theology” on four reasons why it sucks - to which Ben has added a fifth “sucks”.

4

Jennifer 06.06.08 at 11:28 am

They knew what they were doing and what area they were in. The Chris-tian Institute is known as a right-wing religo-political organisation. I would suggest that the two men were being deliberately provocative in order to garner media attention. Fundamentalists do this to try and further their cause. A cause, I hasten to add, which has little to do with the message of Christ. That is possibly even more so for Chris-tian Voice, who are rather cruder in their attempts.

For me evangelism is being a living, breathing witness to the glory of God, not shouting the odds. He who shouts the loudest has the least to say… All interested parties are welcome, all contentious backbiters are also welcome, but may suffer from apoplexy when confronted with a smile, kind word, and the message of the Son of Man.

5

Bene D 06.06.08 at 12:04 pm

God TV and clients are collecting IP’s of course.
Can you imagine the spam anyone who has signed up is getting?

You might get an opportunity to be entertained again, word is Bentley and his team are looking for the biggest stadium in London for thier UK, er, event.

The threats Bentley has been spouting off against other Christians aren’t entertaining enough for you Richard?;^)

Mind you when it comes to foot in mouth, Robertson is the master.

I’m surprised at David Hallam being so thick about Steven Green!
At least he has the sense to stay away from one of Green’s sideshows.
He’s smarter than that, and jumping on the perpetual persecution bandwagon with Green is hardly spiritually wise.

These two Yank missionaries are suing, and they have Christian Identity types in the US cheering them on as well as the help of Christian Institute.
The initial letter to the police is on the Institute site.
They are proceeding under Articles 6, 9 and 10 of the Human RIghts Act:

“Realising our clients were from America, PCSO Naguthney began asking about George Bush and the war in Afghanistan and the death of innocent civilians. The officer’s manner was aggressive and threatening and he spoke in a raised voice. Mr. Cunningham said that this had nothing to do with the Gospel he was preaching. The officer replied that our clients needed to preach the Gospel to President Bush. Mr. Cunningham said that the Gospel needed to be preached everywhere. PCSO
Naguthney warned our clients that they could not preach the Gospel in Alum Rock Road as it was a Muslim area.”

This is a real corker:

“Our clients were left with the understanding that they could not express their religious beliefs in Alum Rock Road without committing a hate crime.”

Abraham and Cunningham want:

1. A full and unreserved written apology and recognition that our clients’
convention rights were infringed by the conduct of the police officers.
2. Damages
3. Our clients’ reasonable legal costs.

You gotta wonder who is playing who. How nice of Green to give them cover.
Joseph Abraham: Grace Bible Fellowship Church, says he’s been a mnister fro 22 years. He gets upset when people attack his bible, (he did an interview in the US) and doesn’t want the Koran elevated.
He says he is a former Muslim and thinks the Anglican Church is apostate and multiculturalism has eroded British identity.
Brits need to reclaim their country from foreign intrusion, the country has been invaded by Islam. He believes he is biblily mandated to do what he needs to do to see that happens.
They are affiliated with an independent fundamentalist church (Grace Church of Mentor) in Ohio.

Media attention=witness
No word on what their ‘tracts’ said.

Cunningham is the associate minister of this church and isn’t quite as forthcoming about his views, but says he loves Muslims.

Drearily familar.

Green is a class A media whore, and there are no shortage of identity/restorationist types jumping on that bandwagon with him.

6

Bene D 06.06.08 at 12:48 pm

I don’t know what kind of case The Chrisitian Institute is going to have.
Birmingham has an excemption for political and religious leafleting under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. Permission is required to leaflet.

Mr. Abraham went to the US in 1972 and headed for the UK in 1989, he and his wife founded their church in 1996. Cunningham and his wife showed up in 2001.

I investigated Gospel Fellowship Association once before for something thier staff was up to. They genuinely believe we are heathens.
This Association is big on the ‘What if’ tract. Serious screaming.

I’d not at all convinced Abraham and Cunningham didn’t plan this for maximum noise, given past issues with this police dept. The perfect stage.

Anonymous members were warned for using the word ‘cult’ against Scientology last week in Birmingham.

The PCSO had been on the job 8 months, I can appreciate he would have been out of line to engage in US political bashing.

These two wanted the attention, they got it and of course has nothing to do with Christ.

7

Wood 06.06.08 at 1:41 pm

Ahh, Gordon Cheng. I know him. Certifiable fella. Got kicked off Ship of Fools at least twice for toxic homophobia and hellfire-spitting. He’s one of the ultra-right ultra-crazy Sydney crowd, well in with Jensen and that lot. I read the name at the top, and it was like an old friend; I barely needed to read the post to know what it said.

8

Bene D 06.06.08 at 3:15 pm

I’d hoped you weigh in Wood, once again you didn’t disappoint.

9

Richard 06.06.08 at 4:17 pm

That’s Wood for you, BD. He rarely disappoints.

10

alease davis 06.29.08 at 12:04 am

It breaks my heart to see Pat Robertson endorse this sick,heretical circus in Florida.When my Mom and I became Christians,30 years ago,the 700 club meant so much to us.We learned so much,were inspired…..Shame on you,Pat,for giving your approval to something so obviously false!Have you lost your MIND? It terrifies me to see what is going on nowadays,in the name of Jesus.”Depart from me,I never knew you”takes on new meaning.Who CAN we trust,anymore?Jesus,my friends,as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.Not this counterfit “Jesus” taught by Todd Bentley,Benny Hinn,and all the other heretics and con men trying to prey on trusting,naive Christians today.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>