Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hell As Motivation

Katie Allison Granju posts on her blog today how some Baptist missionaries tried to "save" her by exploiting her son's death:

They shook their heads sadly and explained in so many words that given where I go to church, it’s possible that Henry is actually burning in hell right now. They then went on to suggest that “now would be a good time” to ensure that my remaining children do not meet a similar, fiery fate by bringing the kids to THEIR church, which God and Jesus apparently favor over my own.

Then they handed me some church-produced literature about the dangers of gay marriage and abortion and whatnot, and went on to the next house on our street.

I stood there, watching them walk away, bemused by the unmitigated gall of these women.
Did two Baptist missionaries just come into my yard and tell me that my recently deceased child is likely FRYING IN HELL? Why yes, yes they did.
 Compare this to some of what Candy has written:

This means being willing to talk about God outside of church, and not
wimping out by saying that you will witness simply by being an
example. What kind of Christian stands by and says nothing as their
family and friends head towards hell? If they reject the Gospel that
is one thing, but did you give them the chance to reject it? Every
Christian is commanded to spread the gospel.

Those who are headed for hell won't like you anyway, but being a
strong witness to the truth, you can help save those who recognize
Christ's call.

I'm sure these Baptists did not intend to offend Katie, and Katie seems good-natured about it.   But I have to wonder what this method of conversion says about their view of God. 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Hebrews 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Is accepting Jesus as your Savior out of fear of punishment what God wants?  We should desire to follow God out of love, not out of fear.  We should respect God, yes.  Fear of the Lord is a virtue.  But just as God gave his only begotten Son out of love for us, so he wants our love in the same way.

If you are going to suggest exploiting the death of a loved one to try and convert someone, I would suggest trying this dialog instead.  "Do you know how much you love Henry?  Well, that's how much God loves you.  And do you know how you would have given anything to have been able to save his life, even give up your own?  God loves you so much, that he became human and gave up his own life to save yours."  Maybe you could then read the parable of the lost sheep.

How do you guys feel about this?  What do you suggest would be the best thing to say?  

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