A recent article I read reported “an organization that promotes open-air preaching and evangelism says the United Kingdom has become very hostile to the Gospel.” An evangelist with the organization was quoted as saying of the people of England, “They don’t want to hear the Gospel.” So he thinks that England is basically closed to the Gospel message because Brits don’t like “open air” preachers. Imagine that. People in England don’t like to have the Gospel shouted at them as they walk down the street. What is wrong with them? The evangelist warned the same thing could happen in the United States. This evangelist, apparently, has never shouted his message from the street corners in cities in this country or he would know that Americans most likely already feel the same way as their British counterparts. Or maybe I’m the only one who finds the shouting street preacher annoying, and I’m judging too harshly.
Jesus was an itinerate preacher of sorts who went about proclaiming His message in town after town, teaching from mountaintops or boats. However, He had a captive audience who followed Him because they wanted to hear Him. After His death, His followers, by and large, continued to preach openly on the steps of the temple, in Jewish synagogues, and in Greek lecture halls and amphitheatres – anywhere people expected to have a thoughtful conversation on the deepest aspects of life. People listened to them by the thousands. Two thousand years ago it was easy to gather a captive audience proclaiming a new message about a new “Way.” But today, the Good News is lost in annoyance at people shouting about Jesus from a street corner.
With all the turmoil in our country today, the Good news is lost in a lot of other ways. Christianity has come under attack because the message of the Gospel has been obliterated by the focus on God’s judgment, which is an integral but often misunderstood and miscommunicated part of the Christian faith. “God’s going to judge the homosexual.” “God’s going to judge America.” “God doesn’t like Obamacare.” The bad news of the Christian faith is that God is going to judge each and every one of us (in the entire world, not only in this country) for the wrongful things we have done. The Good News (which is what Gospel means) is that a good God does not let such wrongs get the last word. God sent His righteous son Jesus to take that punishment for us by dying on the cross so that no one need be found lacking and all our wrongs may be made right. Yet, even as I type this, although I whole-heartedly believe and trust in this plan of salvation, I can certainly see how ridiculous it must sound and even annoying as a street preacher to the one going about his or her life with nary a thought toward spiritual things. In my early twenties, I was one of those people. My twenty-something response to this blog so far would’ve been, Whatever. My dance class is about to start. Gotta go!
But, perhaps something in you just said, “Wait, what? I don’t understand what you mean.” And the more you think about it, the more questions start pouring out. And you’d like answers. Or maybe you’re a spiritual cynic ready to taunt the believer with questions you think she can’t answer. Where could you go to ask honest questions about this faith and hear honest answers? You don’t want to go to a church. (Yeah, I know: we’re all just hypocrites in there.) Besides, preachers only give a message about how you should think and act and never ask, “Are there any questions.” If you get in a small group of Christians, you feel like a lone Philistine and don’t want to ask a question for fear you’ll get served to the Christian lions on a silver platter. You can’t have a discussion with your Christian co-worker because, one: you should be working, and two: he seems to only become addled by your questions. You’d like to be able to ask your questions in a place where you are comfortable and there is no hidden agenda (i.e., no one is waiting in the wings with a pitcher of water ready to baptize you and sign you up for the decorating committee and the welcome committee and potluck supper committee and the children’s parade committee). If only you could go to a bar, kick back a cold one, and have a serious, honest discussion with a knowledgeable Christian about this faith that seems to get so many people riled up these days.
Well, for three Tuesdays in August, you can do just that: go to a local pub and enjoy a cold one while discussing Christianity. Christ Church Plano is hosting “Sinners, Saints & Ales," theology on tap. Speakers will present a short discourse on a “hot topic” then field questions in a relaxed atmosphere. The discussions will be from 7-9 p.m. at the Lantern St. Grill and Tap House located at 6205 Coit Road, Plano, TX (northwest corner of Coit and Spring Creek). Here is the schedule of “hot topics:”
Tuesday, August 5
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Why Things Happen?” – Dr. William J. Abraham
Tuesday, August 12
“Sex: A Christian Psychologist’s Perspective” – Dr. Kenneth Wilgus
Tuesday, August 19
“Science, Religion, and Spiritual Experiences” – Dr. William J. Abraham
More information about this venue can be found at http://christchurchplano.org/sinner-saints-ales/#.U8c4d01OWbU .
If you’re a seeker, a cynic, or someone who just likes beer, I hope you will come check it out, and then let me know what you think.