July 26, 2010

An Exercise in Evangelistic Tact

I received this as a comment on my "Road Rage" post a while back. I didn't publish it because I thought it was cheesy, and I have a policy about comments needing to apply to the post they are connected to and a policy about not lecturing. Considering that this on from a post about Road Rage, it clearly was not on topic, and it is clearly lecturing.

But I did decide to keep it because I wanted to do a post critiquing it. it is a wonderful example of poor tract evangelism, and I wanted to share it with you guys. I didn't include the name since I'm going to give a negative critique.

If you died today, are you 100% sure you would go to Heaven ?

The Bible says in I John 5:13, that we can KNOW we are saved eternally and
going to Heaven.

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son
of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on
the name of the Son of God." I John 5:13

1. First, you must realize that you are a sinner.

The Bible says in Romans 3:23, that everyone is a sinner.

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Romans

2. You must realize what yours sins earn you.

The Bible tells us the penalty for our sin in the first part of Romans

"For the wages of sin is death;" Romans 6:23a

Because we sin, we earn wages just like when we earn wages for working. Our
wages for our sins is death. Because we sin, we deserve to die.

But that's not all, because we sin, we deserve to die a second death as
well ...

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second
death." Revelation 20:14

Because of our sins, we also deserve to die the second death: to be cast
into the Lake of Fire ( Hell ).

3. Jesus paid the price.

God wants us to go to Heaven, so He sent His only begotten Son to die for
us on the cross, so we can go to Heaven !

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

4. What must I do to be saved ?

God only asks one thing of us to be saved.

"And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,
and thy house." Acts 16:31

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved." Romans 10:9

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."Romans

If we believe that we Jesus died for us and rose again so that we can be
saved, and we simply ask Jesus to save us, He will :)

I just wanted to make sure you knew 100% sure :D

God bless you and yours !

Problem #1: Hit and Run

The very way that this comment is made makes it very clear that this poster is simply posting this without intending to follow-up. If the person did attempt to follow-up, then they did a lousy job in opening conversation.

Which is the basic point. I understand the need for a tract to give all of the information that a person may ask since the giver of the tract won't be there for the reading of the tract. But if you are going to comment on a blog then your objective in evangelism should be opening up dialogue. Giving a page long description of the process of salvation complete with proof-texts and then claiming that you are just "making sure" is pompous, and dissuades one from having a conversation.

I mean, what did she (because it was a she) expect me to say in response? "No I'm not sure" or "Actually, I really don't care" or the more accurate in my case "Actually I completely understand and accept all that you said and you just completely wasted my time considering you could have figured this out by briefly skimming my site"? None of these are really natural responses, or represent serious dialogue.

Problem #2: The Machine Gun Hermeneutic

I have a policy on this too. Look at the way Scripture is used here. She lists particular verses, and then does nothing to interact with them. This brings up the question: who is her target here?

Let's say I am already a Christian. Then there is no purpose for her even giving me this message, and I am probably already familiar with these verses.

OK, let's say I am not a Christian. Then why would I care what the Scripture says? What is the point of quoting it? I mean, I quote Scripture when I talk to non-Christians as a source for what I believe, but not as an authority as to why they should believe the same as I do. The Bible belongs to the Church, and is an authority for the Church. It isn't to those outside of it, and we shouldn't be surprised by that.

OK, let's say that I am a false Christian (to be honest, that is what I am assuming she is "making sure of"). Again, I probably would be familiar with these verses, and there is little here that would point out where I fall short in the faith.

In other words, regardless of where I am coming from, her presentation would not convince me.

Problem #3: Disingenuous

I've alluded to this several times already, but the cheeky "I just wanted to make sure you were 100% sure" is really insulting. This is so insincere. If she wanted to make sure, then she would have asked me questions, not given me a lecture. Or she at least would have read more of my posts, and found out what I claim to believe, and have written in response to that (I even have a section listing all of my beliefs and a link to it at the top of my blog). Even if she did give me this out of a desire to "make sure", it is quite evident that she doesn't really care about me.

Now it would be wrong of me to say what she was thinking. My imagination would assume the worse because I am insulted, but probably her motivations are far more innocent than I would imagine. But there is nothing more annoying than claiming that they are concerned about you, while their actions make it seem like you are just another stamp on the side of their plane.


Take the time to think about what you are doing when you are evangelizing. Think in terms of who you are trying to reach, and what medium you are using.

When handing out tracts, you have to be this general: it is a natural aspect of the medium, and that is OK. But even then you have to think about target audience, and how that group of people will respond to your words.

If you are street evangelizing, you need to be focused on emotion rather than logic. You need to get people to want to listen to you, rather than simply being correct in what you have to say.

But more to the point, blogs give you an ability to be precise in your evangelism that you not only can take advantage of, but will be expected to. If someone has a blog, they are a person that wants to have their thoughts heard. Thus, if you want to reach someone on a blog, you first need to impress them with how familiar you are with their writing. If you are unwilling to do the work to do this, then you shouldn't say anything at all.

And, in the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that.

July 20, 2010

Pelagianism: A Monergist Model of Redemption

"Pelagianism? Monergist? Martin, I think you need to recheck your definitions."

No it's true! For those that read most internet Calvinist literature, the word 'monergism' is understood to be synonymous with determinism. However, the term specificly means that only one party's actions (energy) matters within the processes of redemption and sanctification. The process involves two parties: God and the human. Therefore, monergism is any belief system that views either party as the only effective actor within the process, whether it be God (Calvinism/Augustinianism) or the human (Pelagianism).

Therefore, it strikes me as odd that many Calvinists seem to celebrate monergism as if the concept alone justifies the superiority of Calvinism. The truth of the matter is, it seems to me that most Calvinists simply think monergisticly. Many believe that it must be God or humanity, and if we are not saying God, that that amounts to saying that it is humanity. That just isn't true.

Here is the truth of the matter:
  • Pelagianism: Monergistic Believes that the human initiates and completes the process of redemption and sanctification by living the kind of life modeled by Christ.
  • Semipelagianism: Synergistic Believes that the human initiates the process of redemption, but it is completed through the assistance of God and Christ's redemptive sacrifice
  • Semiaugustianism (Arminianism): Synergistic Believes that God initiates the process of redemption, and completes it within those humans that respond to His initiatial promptings.
  • Augustinianism (Calvinism): Monergistic Beleives that God initiates and completes the process of redemption and sanctification of a few select persons.

Those that celebrate 'Monergism' and condemn 'Synergism' do so without fully understanding the terms. Both Pelagianism (a monergist theology) and Semipelagianism (a synergist theology) are just as heretical, and both Augustianism (a monergist theology) and Semiaugustinianism (a synergist theology) fall comfortably within the boundries of orthodoxy.

See the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church to collaborate definitions of terms

July 11, 2010


Ok, there are tons of 'ologies' out there, including theological terms. In Christianity we study:

  • Angelology- study of Angels
  • Anthropology- study of humanity's nature
  • Christology- Study of Christ's nature
  • Cosmology- Study of the the origin of the cosmos/ Creation
  • Demonology- Study of Satan and his forces
  • Ecclesiology- study of the church
  • Epistemology- Study of knowledge and understanding
  • Eschatology- study of the life after death and the end of the world
  • Ontology- study of existence
  • Pneumatology- study of the Spirit
  • Sacramentology- study of the sacraments/ordinances
  • Soteriology- study of salvation
  • Theology- study of God

There are also many branches of Christian study that do not end with '-ology', such as:

  • Ethics- study of right living (moral or practical)
  • Hermeneutics- study of interpreting a text/Scripture
  • History- study of past events (Also Archeology)
  • Liturgy- Study of public worship (Also liturgiology)
  • Metaphystics- study of supernatural forces
  • Pastoral theology- study of the role of the pastor
  • Philosophy- Systematic study of reality
  • Science-Systematic study of tangible reality
  • Theodicy- Study of the existence of evil given a just God

Though this list is not exhaustive, I would consider these to be the major branches of Christian study.

However, there is one branch of Christian study which I believe is a major aspect of Christian understanding that, as far as I am aware, has no name. Therefore, I gave it a name: ecotheology.

What is Ecotheology

The prefix 'eco-' is used to reference environment, usually in terms of Nature, but not necessarily. 'Theology' is of course the study of God. Therefore, what I mean by 'Ecotheology' is the study of the interactions between a faith community or religious perspective with its cultural environment.

Interestingly enough, this area of theology has already had a lot of development within Christianity. The most notable ecotheological movement would be Emergent Church movement which is defined by it "discussion" ecotheological issues. However, Fundamentalism and the Amish would also be groups which are defined by an ecotheological stance (In that they both view that interactions between the faith community and the cultural environment should be limited, or non-existent). Again Liberalism is also a position based off of an ecotheological stance (That the faith community should adapt and accommodate to the ambient culture's academy). Thus I am not proposing that we create a new area of theology inquiry, but that we should identify as a legitimate category of Christian study that already exists.

Christian Ecotheology

Within Christianity, we conveniently have a base question from which we can base our study: "how can we be in the world and not of the world?" Any attempt to answer or consider this question is Christian ecotheology.

Therefore, Christian ecotheology starts with two basic assumptions: A) That we (the Church) are something distinct and other within our culture and B) that we do belong where we are. Thus we can see that Christian ecotheology is intimately related to ecclesiology (The study of the Church). This shouldn't be surprising since in the definition I gave ["the study of the interactions between a faith community or religious perspective with its cultural environment"], the faith community mentioned there would be the church within Christianity.

However, I would argue that ecotheology is indeed something entirely distinct from ecclesiology since it is a study of interactions rather than a study of nature. It would be similar to the distinction between Christology (the study of who Christ is) and soteriology (the study of what Christ accomplished).

Indeed, ecotheology is intimately concerned with ethics: How are we to maintain our otherness, and yet still fulfill our purpose in being within this culture? This is merely a rephrasing of the first question, and yet shows that this has as much to do with personal ethics as it does with the nature of the Church. It is balancing holiness with mission, placing evangelism itself firmly within ecotheology's purview. However, it is also concerned with how to interact with educational institutions, mass media, and political structures.

However, it is not limited to ethics, for there is the ultimate question of how the church as a whole interacts with the world as a whole. How are we portrayed? How much of that portrayal is our fault? What can we do to improve that image? Should we do something to improve it? How well do we understand the needs of our culture? Are we reaching out to it the right way? These are major questions, and are worthy of direct and systematic study.

Anyway, what do you guys think?

July 10, 2010

Ephesians 2:14; A Devotional

For He is our peace, having made both into one and having broken down1 that wall2 which divides us3, that hostility by His flesh.

Is there a greater verse to demonstrate the notion of how corporate election works? God has created for Himself a people out of the seed of Abraham. It is this people that He has choosen, and it is through this people that He works.
But through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, that distinction between the seed of Abraham and the rest of the seed of Adam is broken down. Now all who are in Christ are one and are part of the same people: the people of Christ. When we say we are Christians, we are saying that we are part of the soveriegn government of the King of Kings: the Lord Christ who reigns over all the other lords. That is now our nationality; that is our alligance.
Therefore, any other distinction that we may recognize is now moot. Let us not ostrocize another for petty things, like race or nation or tribe or denomination. We are now one people under Christ. These are dividing walls which the passage equates with hostility.
So let us work with one another in harmony and strength. It is only when we all submit to the King and work together as a people that we will see the kingdom of God on this earth.

Translation notes

1 The verb here is 'luo' which means 'to loose' or 'to free' or 'break apart'.

2 'Mesotoixhon' is a combination of two words: 'mesos' meaning 'middle' and 'toichas' meaning wall. Thus, it is a wall in the middle of a room., probably for the purpose of separating the two sections of a room. We have simular walls today, often called partitions. I chose to just call it a wall since calling it a partition would feel redundant withthe rest of the sentence. Also translating it as 'middle wall' isn't really consistant with the language. I don't believe in making up a term in English to represent a standard term in the mother language. That's not good translation IMO.

3 The Greek is 'fragmos' or 'fence'. Thus the greek would have literally read "The partition of the fence". That sounded clunkier than a late 90s Ford. I toyed with the idea of "Wall of division", but that still isn't really English. So I ended up going with a dynamic equivalance on this one.

July 3, 2010


Ok, I haven't made any posts in a while, and I finally have a opportunity to explain way. As of right now, whenever I go to edit a post on here, my entire browser just goes blank. Just white. Yeah, it's that annoying.

So I have had no capacity to actually make posts from home. Furthermore, my job had no computer for me to use, and my best friend's computer, and his room-mate's computer, both crashed, and I just haven't had the time to go to the library.

A quick update though is that I now have a new job! I've been job searching for about 3 years now, only working at Burger King. I've been mostly looking for a pastoral position, but I was unable to really find anything that would work. However, I just got a job as a resident counselor for Christian Heritage Services. This means that I am working assisting those with developmental disabilities. In my case, I am working with those who also have aging disorders (dimentia, etc...).

So far it's been fun, and I have access to a computer :). I hope to eventually figure out what's wrong with my home computer, but I only have a problem with blogger, so we'll see.