Monday, August 18, 2008

Attacked by Deception

Two nights ago my family and I attended an outdoor cowboy "shootout" next to the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming. This nightly event at 6:00pm is a hokey Wild West show put on by some street theater folks. They charge nothing for the event but do ask for charitable donations.

No sooner did the show end than another loud voice opened up behind the audience. A street preacher had set up a podium and was deriding various members of the audience and the cast. I listened closely.

With a Bible in one hand, he shouted at the one cowboy and called him a public drunkard. The bargirl was a "harlot". The audience in general participated in a show of evil and wickedness. At that, a member of the audience shouted back something at the preacher that I could not understand. He replied to her that she should keep silence. "A womans's place is in the home and that's where you should be," he shouted at her. She laughed and said something else mocking him. His reply to the audience in general, "Here is a rebellious woman!"

Next he selected a young boy in the audience. "Look at this young man wearing an AC/DC shirt!" I didn't catch the rest and frankly at this point stopped listening. My family and I walked away. The show was over and this follow-up "act" was one we didn't want to watch.

A half hour later he was still going at it as we walked back to our car. He was shouting at people to "read the Bible! Read the truth!"

After such a deriding who would possibly be motivated to read the Bible or anything else this man recommended?

But that's not the real problem here. There is a great deception going on. Although the words he spoke were Biblical, they were also out of context AND deceptive. Why?

Where in God's Word does God ever accuse a sinner of being a sinner? Where did Jesus ever shout someone down, point out their sin, and then try and witness to them?

The street preacher was out of context. No Biblical basis exists for his activity. God never calls anyone to go out into the world and call the world a hypocrite or a sinner. On the other hand, Jesus did go to the religious people and accuse them of such.

But folks on vacation, watching a Wild West show? This is not church, synagogue, or any kind of religious gathering. Frankly, this audience was set up. They were preyed upon.

The deception came about because although the preacher spoke the truth of God's Word, he did not speak the truth to this audience. Calling people "rebellious, harlot, drunkard" is just plain foolishness. Of course they are. They are the world. It's a statement of the obvious but not to them. They don't know any better. They are dead in their trespasses and sins. There is no awareness of sin in their lives.

The deception is placed in their minds regarding the face of the Christian church. The perception is that we are a bunch of Bible thumpers. The world sees a street preacher like this and just waits to trip him up at his own game, to find some fault in him according to his own doctrine.

A pastor once told me that today's church is its own worst enemy. He quoted that from a preacher that said it about 100 years ago. What do you think?


Karen said...

Hi! I saw your blog's link on FCW. I think you're right that the preacher took the wrong approach. But I suppose he was sincere and thought he was doing the will of God. *sigh* I don't know how this kind of thing will change.

Believers need to win others with the love and forgiveness of Christ, which is what will most likely motivate them to repent and believe in Him. We need to keep living the life and sharing the Word whenever we get an opportunity.

I don't think we're wrong to point out sin to other believers, using the Scriptural principles we're given for that. But nonbelievers, until convicted by the Holy Spirit, just aren't going to get it.

Timothy Burns said...


I am a believer of 30 years, and spent the first 12 of them involved in Coffeehouse ministries. We did christian concerts before they could fill an arena. I served dinner to 2nd Chapter of Acts one night, preached from a little stage in our borrowed building, and have spent time street preaching. While I agree that your example of a street preacher, or more accurately his message, is an unbiblical approach to communicating Good News, I believe street preaching is hardly an example of a 'deceived believer.'

Evangelism is an unlimited arena for Christian activity. Jesus stood up on the marketplace and loudly delivered a message more than once, as did John the Baptist. The prophets Jeremiah and Noah preached in the middle of a cities, the apostle Paul proclaimed the Good News at Mar's Hill, and Charles Wesley stood on a rock and preached in a field more than once. History is filled with energized believers taking the Good Message into the "highways and hedges to compel them to come in"

Unfortunately, we Christians too often sit on the sidelines instead of getting in the game. Street evangelism is one means of making contact with unbelievers, and I can personally testify to street preaching evangelism under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. When late night party-goers in the middle of the Mardi Gras revelry come out of bars and strip joints to hear the message, and then engage in meaningful, heart-exposing conversations, I would say that this is evidence of the Holy Spirit's work through street preaching. I was there, listening to men poor out their hearts, admitting their sin, and confessing their emptiness.

As believers, we are too quick to condemn others who behave differently than we do. The disciples had the same problem. Walking with Jesus, one of the disciples said "Lord, we saw someone baptizing in your name. He wasn't with us, so we tried to stop him" Jesus response was to correct his followers short sighted "Our club is the only club" attitude. "Whoever is not against us is for us," He replied.

The issue is the message. Jesus said speak the truth in love, and live a life of holiness that allows his Spirit to flow through us - to know Him and make Him known. I agree with you that the preacher in your example may have missed the ". . . in love" clause in that verse, but I can applaud his willingness to "go into all the world."


Tim Burns
Raising Disciples to Influence the World

W McCallum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
W McCallum said...

The words of Matthew 10:16 spring to mind here: "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves."

Sounds like this man was operating in his own wisdom. Also, the Word without the Spirit is dead and unless we receive the annointing of the Holy Spirit upon us, we speak only in our own power. Prayer, wisdom and love is so important when witnessing to others. Without wisdom - we make a fool of our Lord's message. Without prayer - we go in our own strength without the Holy Spirit annointing upon us and without love we are but a sounding gong!