Tag Archives: liberty university

Christianity, Proselytization, and Ginsu Knives

Pastor Tim Piland shared an excellent message from Matthew 28:19-20 this past Sunday at Nansemond River Baptist Church. I love to listen to Pastor Tim share; he is biblical, passionate, and relevant. I like to tell people that he’s 65 going on 20. He has the energy and passion of a young man with the wisdom and wit of a seasoned veteran. I think he has a faint hint of Jimmy Stewart in his voice as well .

In any case, Tim made a comment (I think I’ve heard similar comments before) about sharing the gospel:

The gospel is not a commodity to be sold; it is a relationship to be shared.

I grew up learning all the methods of evangelism (E.E., Romans Road, 4 Spiritual Laws, Steps to Peace with God, F.A.I.T.H., etc.). As I’ve grown (a little) older I’ve found methods to be helpful but often inadequate. Each person is different and, therefore, every time I share my faith it sounds a little different. The content must always be biblical but the method of organization and communication is often ad hoc.

More important than the method, however, is the relationship. We must build relationships with people that can bear the weight of the gospel. The message of sin and salvation is heavy stuff and casual conversations rarely offer the opportunity for a meaningful dialogue. Talking about football and the weather is hardly a natural segue to the magnitude of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Too often fervent evangelists see people as converts to be won. I am reminded of Kevin Roose’s experience at Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University chronicled in the book Unlikely Disciple:

When I told the Liberty students at Thomas Road that I hadn’t accepted Christ as my savior, the entire dynamic of the conversation changed. It began to feel distant and rehearsed, like a pitch for Ginsu knives.

People are unique and interesting and the gospel is not formulaic. Different people have different objections and hangups to the gospel. I know that I value authenticity and honesty much more than a polished presentation.

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Creative Commentary on the Ergun Caner Situation

I recently read a wonderful post by Phil Johnson entitled “How I Learned the Hard Way that Pious Gullibility is No Virtue.” I am generally not interested in reading long blog posts but this one is well-written, readable, and makes a clear point at the end.  Check it out for yourself.

Ergun Caner Press Article (2005)

Ergun Caner Update

This story has been covered by many outlets and I just wanted to bring closure to the stories that I mentioned previouslyChristianity Today, the Associated Press, and other news agencies have relayed information from Liberty University that confirm Ergun Caner has “made factual statements that are self-contradictory.”  They fall short of calling his actions lies.  He will still be employed by Liberty University but will no longer be the dean of their seminary.

Liberty University’s actions and statement provide very little clarity to this situation.

Ergun Caner… Some Commentary

Dr. Jim West, one of the most interesting and incendiary bloggers has commented on the Liberty University saga containing Ergun Caner.  In his typically sardonic style Dr. West has pointed out that this situation is about honesty and integrity.  Unfortunately, Ergun Caner’s mistakes (allegedly) will affect not only himself but the institution at which he serves.

Also, “it’s not wise to ignore the insights of the blogosphere.”

Check out Dr. West’s commentary on this situation here and here.  If you are a Liberty student or alumni do not be offended by Dr. West’s equal opportunity cynicism.

Ergun Caner Investigated

I am still withholding judgment on the internet musings (see here, here, or here – to list only a few)  regarding Ergun Caner.  However, I knew the allegations that he intentionally embellished his testimony (post 9/11) were gaining steam when Christianity Today and other “mainstream” news agencies began reporting on this story.

It appears that Liberty University is taking these allegations seriously as well and have formed an internal investigative committee to study all the facts involved.

I suspect this is such an important story because a seminary president at one of America’s leading evangelical universities is being accused of lying and manipulating Islamiphobia for the purpose of gaining celebrity and expertise.

If these allegations prove to be true it will be another example in the long line of Christian celebrity moral failures (another reason that “celebrity” is antithetical to the servant nature of Christianity).

Glenn Beck at Liberty

Liberty University has decided to invite Glenn Beck as their commencement speaker this year.  I find this to be a curious choice for a speaker.  As a “Christian University” Liberty has found in Glenn Beck neither the qualification of a Christian or as a scholar.  Beck is a Mormon who hosts a regular radio and television show that centers on far-right politics, scare-tactics, and conspiracy theories.

Glenn Beck adds his name to the list of  Liberty commencement speakers that includes Ben Stein and Chuck Norris.

My concern is that Liberty is more interested in indoctrination than education.  While I am open to the idea of a “Christian University,” a commencement speaker such as Beck belies the administrations devotion to conservative, partisan politics rather than the pursuit of intelligent, Christian discipleship.