According to the Gospels, after Jesus was resurrected, He told His disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) Christians have interpreted this as a command for evangelism. I have previously written about this being a very poor way for God to show His love of the world. In the early centuries following the death of Jesus, it was difficult to reach some parts of the world, and impossible to reach other parts. The humans living in Australia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands would be condemned to hell for 15 or more centuries. If God had so much love for the world, why did He decide that only face-to-face conversions would work? Why didn’t Jesus take Peter aside and say, “I know you know a bit about boats, so here are the plans for an ocean crossing boat, the instructions for making and using a magnetic compass, star charts, and a globe with all your destinations marked with Xs. All the blue areas are salt water, so plan accordingly.”
Since God didn’t give us ships, compasses, star charts, or global maps, humans have had to invent those things themselves.
Most Christian religions have some form of evangelism. When I moved to Sioux Falls, the first visitors I had were a couple from a local Baptist church inviting me to their church for worship services. They persisted until I took off my hat and showed them my horns.
In the 12/16/11, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Billy Graham is asked a question about evangelicals from an unnamed church. Billy’s reader says, “A few months ago, a couple came to our door wanting to talk about their religion. At first, we were interested, but now they keep coming back and we can’t get rid of them. What should we do? We don’t go to church or anything, so we can’t use that as an excuse. You can read all of Billy’s answer here.
Billy responds by pulling out his list of “things that cults do”. Billy says the reason this couple keeps talking to you, “… is simple: They hope to talk you into becoming members of their religion. They know that the more contact they have with you, the harder it will be for you to pull away.” Billy knows this aspect of evangelism well – all evangelicals work this way. What evangelicals hand you first is “the Good News”, the Gospels. Later, they tell you the bad news about hell and damnation. You may have to join the church before they tell you about the quirky rules that make them different than other churches.
Billy goes on, “… I hope you’ll have the courage to break contact with them, because this group (which you mention by name elsewhere in your letter) rejects what Christians have always believed about Jesus our Savior.” Because Billy is so coy with the name of the group, we don’t know if he is bad mouthing Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or some other door-to-door missionary group. He is also vague about what faith principle these evil evangelicals fail to believe.
Finally, Billy fails to help the reader in a fundamental way. Rather than giving the reader some substantial advice about what to look for in a church, Billy says, “Turn to Jesus Christ… then ask Him to help you find a church…”
Billy should know better. There are so many different Christian sects because people have done exactly what Billy says to do. The problem is that the voice in the heads of people is their own thought process, not the voice of Jesus. There are so many churches because of individuals listening to their own thoughts and thinking they were hearing Jesus.
To test the validity of my thinking, we could re-write the question as if it were directed to the leader of the Mormons or the leader of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the evangelical couple was from Billy Graham’s church. The answer would read the same. Every evangelical group thinks the other evangelical groups are wrong and are leading people astray.
The important question then becomes: astray from what? There is no one-true-path. The door knocking couple is merely inviting the reader to share in their delusional worldview. Billy is right when he tells the reader to reject the religion of these evangelicals. I would go one step further and tell the reader to reject the religion of all evangelicals.
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