Tuesday, December 04, 2007

conspiracy theories

This is just a random thought I had last weekend on the evang-e-droppings gig. There is no deep research to back this up.

It seems like there are basically two different approaches to Christianity: 1) a hell approach or 2) a love approach. And each have their ills. I know these two approaches come across real black or white. This is just for the sake of making a weird point, and possible discussion. There are, of course, multitudes of grey areas and exceptions in real-life.

The Hell Approach – or possibly the hate approach. The tract passers are part of this. They take a “hell” approach to the gospel as a way to guilt or scare people to becoming part of the faith. Those guys in Kansas with the “god hates fags” signs are an extreme example.

The Love Approach – aka “father heart”. This way basically says, “God loves you”. It can also move into areas like, “god would have you be rich and prosper and never feel pain”. Everything aired on TBN would be an extreme example of this approach.

It can be argued that both approaches can be backed up by scripture. The “hells” love things like John 3:36 (“God’s wrath remains on sinners”) while the “loves” go for John 14:14 (“ask me anything in my name and I will do it”).

These are probably poor scripture examples for my point. It’s late. Sorry.

Admittedly, I lean heavily toward the love approach. And I can throw around many scriptures to back that up as well as real-life testimony too. But having recently come from a love approach church (with an authoritarian dictatorship), I noticed something.

Churches from the hell approach do not have to shove “authority” into their member’s faces. Churches from the love approach preach “authority” all the time.

My friend the nurse practitioner suggested that this is because people in the hell church are already submissive as they live in guilt and fear, whereas people in the love church don’t. So leaders in the love church must preach authority constantly.

This makes the love approach somewhat ironic, since authoritarian dictatorships or anything kin to it seems the opposite of love.

Just random and poorly executed conspiracy theories. Any thoughts?


Anonymous said...


Of course, I am the guy running off half cocked seeing all the exceptions to your observations right out the gate... And I do not fully understand your point...I mean what you are driving at here. So as usual, I will respond in my own kind and let stick what sticks and let fly what flies. Do not take me toooooo seriously in this comment.

Since divorcing, I have recently landed myself a new "girl-friend" so to speak. She is a deeply devout lady, unlike my ex-wife. She was raised Assembly of God but currently churches with a Four Square bunch here in L-Town. I have known her for years through my prison ministry. And she and I do NOT share the same views on a lot of stuff.

I recently joined her at her church for an "evangelism class" which I find repulsive at many levels. However, I am trying to be a team player in every way that does not violate my own concsience. So far so good, but I have become the heckler in the class (much like I often come across on the blogs) because I do not believe in "HELL" at least as traditionally posited by Christians. And wouldn't you know it, this is a "Love" church (as you say), at least in my estimation, but they have discovered that "love" approaches are not winning converts with staying power. They still hold to a "grace" theology in the end, but are following Kirk Cameron and friend in their Way Of The Master video series with the theory that Hell Fire conviction must be preached on the up front before "grace" can be fully comprehended etc...

Basically, I think the whole thing is bunk on so many levels, this comment cannot deal with them all. But, the instructor hands us tracts to share in which every single one warns of HELL. I refuse to use them.

Recently, Kandy (the girl-friend) and I had a visit with some lesbian ladies. They are friends of hers from years gone by. They are seekers too. Kandy told me on the way to the visit that she did not think we should try to "fix" their sexual orientation. I agreed. Not that either one of us see it as okay or un-sinful. We do. But it is no worse than greed or lying and none of our cohorts, as far as we know seek to make a big deal about "fixing" those sins on the upfront either. K-girl was afraid we might miss our chance to love these ladies if we put them off with that kind of message.

I agreed with her and pointed out that we would be chucking the class method if we avoided "convicting" them of their sin. I think it was an eye-opening thought for K-girl. Yes, the course is bunk!

So we opted to love the ladies. I really think that if we love them with a real honest-to-God, self-sacrificial love... you know... genuinely befriend them and take care of them, they will very likely want to learn what we believe and live like. And by the way, I definitely tell them about Jesus very blatantly. I am not doing "friendship evangelism" that is long on friend and short of Jesus. Make not mistake. I am very articulate about Jesus at every turn. But these ladies are poor and need jobs and food and rent, all of which I have been instrumental in helping them obtain. And they love me.

K-girl and I are developing a relationship that they are fascinated by as well. They have come to see me as a very unique MAN in her life. They are enthused about our relationship and speak openly about it.

Basically, what this world needs is to have its collective imagination massively expanded in regards to what LOVE is and can be. Not just words spoken when it is easy, but real action which is costly to the giver and free to the receiver. People really gravitate to that. And when they find out that this imagination and the lifestyle it entails is driven by a Holy God who has a certain kind of order in mind for His world, they will find conviction or will reject Him of their own free will. And the conviction to be had in it is a loving and inviting conviction, not a forceful one.

Well, before my comment far exceeds your post (oops to late for that:)), I will sign off with that point. Though if discussion ensues, I am sure I will add others...

Good to be back. Glad you are still here.

Many blessings & Jesus is Lord!!!

Agent X

mike said...

i think it comes down to the fact that you have to motivate people, at least most people, most of the time.

when i was doing "pro" ministry this was the meta-meaning behind a lot of things.

the hell folks use fear as motivation. the love folks use love.

i think this is because most people don't really believe. to use the analogy i hear often of marriage - if you really think your spouse is great you don't need to be motivated to love and respect them. or rather, the motive is that you believe them to be worthy of love and respect.

but if you don't really believe that then you need fear or some form of manipulation like being reminded how much they love you and so you respond out of guilt really.

so maybe there isn't a love group so much as a guilt group. "jesus loves you THIS much, so shouldn't you respond with love back?"

i never felt love back to god, but then i never felt love from god either. but when i thought about it i did feel guilty that here this god supposedly loved me and i was running around being a total shit instead of loving god back. guilt.

i guess i am just rambling now. but maybe there are three groups; the love group which is really guilt, the hell group which is really fear, and the true believers who find with in themselves a desire to love and obey god with out the need of fear or guilt.

just saying.

i eagerly await the turn or burn response i sometimes get from your texas readers.

Agent B said...

X -

"I do not fully understand your point...I mean what you are driving at here."

My point: everybody is a jackass. EVERYBODY. Not me, of course. I'm perfect. So it goes.

Basically: 2 types of christian/churches - 1) hell based or 2) love based. And both use some sort of manipulative guilt like a jackass.

That's it.

I've got everything figured out. Now if people would just read this blog and see what a genius I am...

But seriously, yeah - love folks. Like you did with those lesbians. Let your life and actions be the message, etc.

I'm glad you're visiting us here at the agent b files again. There is a tract passing group in the lubbock area that maintains a blog of their activities. Have you heard of them?

I'm not a big fan of their demeaning reports against non-believers.

Agent B said...

Mike -

Good words. Thanks. And I yearn to be one of those non-guilt, non-fear types.

And always glad to send those TX turn/burn types your way. I'm good for something...