Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seeker Sensitive Apostle?

Yesterday was a blessed day of sharing the Gospel and distributing tracts at CGCC. My regular team couldn't’t make it but my new friend in Christ, Marcus, who I invited at the last minute was there for a couple of hours. His support and encouragement was much appreciated. Please take the time to visit his YouTube channel at repenttrust. The work he has done preaching the Gospel truly humbles me.

I had several conversations with students, and for as many times as we have frequented the campus, I don’t remember seeing anyone I recognized. This fishing hole is rich for the harvest and not even close to being “fished out.” Each time I turned around, Marcus was either engaged in conversation or handing out a tract. There was much work to be done.

Once Marcus left for the day I began packing up my bibles and tracts when I was approached by a young woman identifying herself as a Christian. She had a few “pointers” for me.

She was a student taking psychology and thought that it might do me (and other Christians) well to avoid certain “trigger words” like “Hell” and “Sin.” She thought that it would be less offensive to use words that didn’t invoke harsh feelings. Words like “separation” and “mistakes” were less inflammatory and in her estimation, kinder and gentler-- less likely to turn someone away.

I asked her what she did to share her faith. She mentioned the friendship evangelism model that included waiting for someone to ask what was “different” about her. Then she would tell them about herself.
I asked her if she believed that the bible was infallible and inerrant. To my surprise, she did. Then I asked her if she thought the culture and popular psychology superseded the Word of God. She agreed that it did not. But she also brought up the all too common (and misunderstood) response that the apostle Paul became like his audiences to win them over. I gave her my less than perfect answer that while true that Paul became sensitive to the culture he was in, he did not compromise truth. Below is a commentary from Let us reason ministries that sums it up better than I can:
What did Paul mean when he said that he became all things to all men?

1 Corinthians 9:19: “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.”

What did Paul mean that he became all things to all men for evangelism? This is his summation after he describes his goal and those people whom he wanted to reach.

He adapted his teaching to their thought in their culture to reach them. He divides the world into the religious with the law, (Jews) and the Gentiles, without the law.

1 Corinthians 9:20 Not being myself under the law mee (NT:3319) oon (NT:5541) autos (NT:839) hupo (NT:5201) nomon (NT:3506). He was emancipated from the law as a means of salvation, yet he knew how to speak to them because of his former beliefs and life with them (Galatians 4:21). He knew how to put the gospel to them without compromise and without offence (from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament.)

An example of this is recorded in Acts 17. He showed the philosophers they were wrong from logic, their own history and the Bible and explained to them what is right.

In 1 Corinthians 9:22 Paul said by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” If this is isolated from the rest of Scripture one can assume that Paul was willing to do anything to reach the lost, including adopting their lifestyle and compromise his ethics, moral and beliefs. This is a doctrine that is popularized among the seeker friendly evangelism crowd today. If we use this logic then one cannot reach a drug addict unless they become one, one cannot reach a drunk unless they drink alcohol.

When we compare Scripture with Scripture, we find that Paul did not mean this. Paul taught that believers are to “abstain from any appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22). Paul would not have done anything contrary to Christ and his ways in his own life and ministry. Remember he rebuked Peter for his compromise of the gospel to the Jewish brethren. Galatians 2:12-13 speaking of the Judaizers “for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. “Saying to Peter Galatians 2:14 “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

So, here is the big question I have for Marie: Just how concerned do you think Paul was with “trigger words” and the offenses of the scriptures? The facts below shine a spotlight on what he endured for the uncompromised truth.

Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2Corinthians 11:24-27).

However Paul adjusted to his audience, It still brought on the unrighteous anger of sinful man.

What do you think?


Jennifer said...

Boy, I hear that comment alot, too. Thank you for a nice and concise answer to that school of thought.