Two questions vs. ten cannons vs. what... (part 2 of 2)
Several months ago, in part 1 of this post, I wrote about the difficulty of calling men to follow Christ in an age which has reduced discipleship to constant repetition of the mantra, "I believe in Jesus." Though Scripture warns, "Without holiness, no man shall see God," modern evangelism leaves out the call to holiness or obedience.
In part 1 I mentioned the problems of using Evangelism Explosion's famous "Two Questions," to call men and women to Christ. Modern evangelism stresses belief and ignores obedience, leaving us without response when those we're seeking to evangelize claim to know Jesus as Saviour, yet show no fruit of the faith they claim.
In part 2 my intention was to introduce a system I grew acquainted with years ago when it went under the name, "The Ten Cannons of the Law."
Taught by Ray Comfort, a man I respect, the Ten Cannons approach seeks to rehabilitate the Law of God as a primary tool in evangelism. I believe Ray Comfort's "Ten Cannons of the Law" now goes by the name "The Way of the Master."
The problem with the Ten Cannons/Way of the Master approach is that though it begins with the Law and thus is far superior to the average Evangelical call to salvation, it doesn't end differently.
My nephew Joseph Bayly, pastor of ClearNote Church Indianapolis posted a comment earlier today about "The Way of the Master" that says everything I was going to say about the "Ten Cannons" and more. And so I happily place it here as the long-delayed conclusion to my initial post.
First things first. The "Way of the Master" material is good in many, many ways. Most significantly, it correctly identifies the need to proclaim the law of God before offering people grace and salvation. Grace is graceless, and salvation is meaningless unless we see our guilt before the Holy God. And the 10 Commandments is ground zero for declaring God's law. This is something that has been lacking in many evangelistic "techniques" for some time. The 180 movie is also an excellent resource for ideas of how to interact with people and show them the horror of abortion. It gets at many truths, makes people think about difficult questions, and I'm quite thankful that it is available. I could spend more time talking about the good things, but these clearly demonstrate that I am serious when I say it is good in many ways.
Now we come to the hard part. There are also a couple of big things about this movie that are problematic. First, let me outline the Way of the Master technique, as seen in this video.
1. Ask people about particular commandments, and whether they have broken them.
2. They of course admit they have.
3. Ask them what somebody is called who has broken that commandment.
4. They of course, come out with the proper labels of, thief, liar, and maybe fornicator.
5. Help them with a few more labels, like murderer-at-heart, adulterer-at-heart and blasphemer.
6. Now tell them that they have admitted to being a lying, stealing, blasphemous, murderer at heart, and that they are going to face God at judgment day.
7. Ask them whether they are concerned about the fact that if they died today, and God gave them justice, they would end up in Hell.
8. They of course, say, "Yes."
9. Tell them to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and they shall be saved.
10. Ask them if it makes sense, and/or if they've changed their mind, and/or if they have a Bible at home and will read it, and/or if they will think about what you've said.
11. They say, "Yes."
Of course, there are variations possible, but that's the way it goes if you are good at this technique. Why? Because the whole thing is setup to be a highway without exits. There are no choices in this. Once you've started, each step follows inevitably from the previous one. There is no avoiding answering the questions that are asked with the expected answer. If somebody dares to, you just go back and show them how logically it is unavoidable. To quote one young girl excited by this material, "It actually works!" But here is the first hint of a problem. We like the fact that this is all so predictable and inescapable, but "The man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still."
It is abundantly clear that many (not all, but many) of the people in this film who answer "yes" at the end, do not agree *at all* with the position they've been forced to. I'm not opposed to forcing people with logic, to see the conclusions that they must accept. But to claim that these people have done a 180 is either disingenuous or culpably naive. They haven't changed. They are lying through their teeth, because they see it is pointless to argue, and they want the conversation over. So they have become compliant to get it over with, so they can get on with their life of fornication, adultery, and murdering-at-heart. Very few of them show any indication that they are genuinely convicted of their sin.
Granted, we cannot force people to be convicted. Only the Holy Spirit can bring people to true conviction and repentance. But it is always tempting to claim "decisions for Christ" by people God is not working in, and this movie is a sad example of that.
However, there is one problem that is even more troubling. What of those people who are truly convicted of their sin and are being sincere in their responses? They are sent home alone to read their Bible. To put it bluntly, this is not fulfilling the Great Commission, even if you simplify the Great Commission to just "making disciples". This is not making disciples, because the definition of a disciple is "one who is being taught." They aren't being taught. But Jesus doesn't even stop with "make disciples". He goes on in the Great Commission and puts meat on the bones. He explains that it must include: "baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you". Baptism is entry into the local church. To send people away without letting them know that they need to join themselves to Christ's body, is to send them off with a death-sentence.
Evangelism always has to be done in the context of the local church. To evangelize people to a faith that they can live on their own without fellowship, discipline, exhortation, and all the rest of the things that the bride of Christ provides, is to evangelize them to a different faith.
In summary, we can and should use this material, but we must be careful. In particular we ought to point out as we use it and teach it, that the end of our conversations with people should not look like the movie. We must do two things differently:
1. Fight the temptation to pretend as though people are actually being changed who clearly aren't. How?
2. By calling them to a faith that bears fruit in keeping with repentance, and this starts by joining the local church. If God is truly at work, the evidence will be manifest. It won't be "Yes, I'll promise to go home and read my Bible if you'll leave me alone." It will be "Brothers, what must we do to be saved? or Teach us more about these things!" And if they refuse to become a part of Christ's church, don't leave them with a promise that God is merciful. Leave them with a promise that they will one day face the Living God, who is justly displeased with their sin, and they will pay the penalty that their sin deserves--eternal punishment and torment in Hell.
I hope that this is helpful to you. I don't want you to be discouraged by this, but rather to grow in discernment of what the good, bad, and ugly are in each of the many Christian resources available today. Please feel free to respond with arguments or questions about what I've said.