Those who visit Christian and other faith forums will know that there are many – probably well-intentioned; let’s give them the benefit of the doubt – people who unctuously ‘correct’ those whom they deem to be ‘spreading a false gospel’. I won’t express my opinion of these people, which gives you a clue as to what it is 😉
Anyhow, in this brilliant piece, Jacob M. Wright lampoons these sermonisers with his idea of what their response might be to one of St. Paul’s sermons.
“APOSTLE PAUL EXPOSED!” A Fundamentalist response to Paul’s preaching to the Athenians in Acts 17:
In Acts 17, Paul is invited before the leading philosophical thinkers of the day to present the gospel to them. Keep in mind they are all idol worshipping pagans. Paul starts off with telling them that they worship God without even knowing it! Paul tells them God is not removed or distant from them, and in fact that they “live, move, and have their being in him” which is something he borrowed from their writings about Zeus. Paul tells them that all of humanity is one blood with one origin: God. And that God is at work in history to cause all to feel after him and find him. Paul quotes one of their pagan authors who said of Zeus “we are indeed his offspring”, and uses it to affirm that God is their Father. Paul tells them that God gives them life, breath, and everything, and satisfies their needs. Paul tells them that God is therefore not some inanimate object like their idols and therefore they should change their way of thinking to embrace the one universal Creator! Paul ends it with saying that God will bring the world to justice through a man that God raised from the dead.
Here is a fundamentalist response to Paul’s supposed “preaching of the gospel”:
“Paul there is so much heresy in this ear-tickling message you told the Athenians I don’t even know where to start. Why don’t you just stick with the simple gospel truth instead of this new agey existential stuff? Telling idol worshipping pagans that they are so close to God that they in fact live, move, and have their being in God? Paul, God is holy. He can’t look upon sin or be around it. You said ‘God is not far from you’ when in fact those idolaters could not be farther from God! Those pagans don’t live, move, and have their being in God, they are completely separated from him!
Also, quoting their own pagan author and saying they are God’s offspring? The fact that you agree with and are quoting a pagan author is evidence enough to me of how you have strayed from the pure truth of God’s Word. Preach the Word Paul, you don’t need to quote pagan authors to try to reach people for Christ. You’re mixing truth with error and coming up with a deadly mix. In fact there is barely any truth here at all! It’s 95% error! Paul repent! Quit watering down the gospel! The Word is clear, they aren’t God’s offspring, they are children of the devil. No one is a child of God until they are born again! You can’t just go and tell a bunch of pagans that they are children of God!
Last but not least, when you declared to them that they worshipped God without even knowing it, this was the last straw. You’re preaching a false gospel. Just because they have an altar to ‘the unknown God’ does not mean the altar is to God and that you can somehow tie this into some mystical idea that it points to God who is their origin, in whom they live, move, and have being, and of whom they are offspring. Your whole sermon did not even mention the name Jesus! How do you expect anyone to get saved! You are beyond anything resembling Gospel truth. Sure, you briefly mentioned that God will bring the world to justice, but didn’t specify that this justice was eternal conscious torment in hell for every unbeliever! There was nothing about wrath, hell, or torment.
Next time, Paul, tell them that the wrath of God burns against them because of their sin, that his justice demands being appeased by the shedding of innocent blood as well as eternal torment. Tell them that yes God loves them, but they need to accept the legal transaction of the atonement before God can forgive. Otherwise they cannot even approach Gods presence! Ask them if they’ve ever told a lie before, or if they’ve ever cursed, lusted, etc. Use the righteous Law of God to show them that they stand condemned to hell before a holy God. We have some gospel tracts for you to use that help with this. Make sure you ask them where their soul would go if they died tonight. Preach the true gospel, Paul.”
I think that’s excellent, don’t you?