LETTER: Preaching falsehoods

I recently engaged an open-air preacher on the quad in a debate about the nature of sin and Christian salvation. I take these topics very seriously, and I would like the opportunity to make sure my stance is understood. First, the preacher stated that drunkenness, heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexuality are all sins. I agree with these statements. He then said that people should repent of these actions and place their trust in Jesus Christ to save them from the eternal consequences of these sins.

I agree with these statements as well. In as much as he warned our community of the deadliness of sin and of the sure judgment to come upon those who reject God’s remedy for sin – Jesus Christ – I accept his message. However, the preacher went on to say that one must live a perfect life of obedience to Christ (once they have believed in Him), and he added that he himself lived such a perfectly obedient, sinless life. On this point, I vehemently opposed him. Christ said faith is like the tiniest of all seeds; it comes to life when one changes their minds/attitudes towards sins, and embraces God’s remedy for sin (Jesus Christ). Then that seed grows roots, a stalk, branches, flowers and eventually produces fruit.

True, as the preacher said, faith without works is dead – and certainly it’s fair for him to warn us that a faith that never brings about change is fake and useless. But, what he failed terribly to grasp was the concept of the process of spiritual growth. True faith in Christ welcomes forgiveness and begins the cure that takes a lifetime and the eventual deliverance from our bodies to complete. If the preacher had presented himself as he truthfully is: a sinner, saved by grace, somewhere along the process of becoming more like Jesus, his dialogue would have had the humility and love so many felt he lacked.

Steve Rutledge

Graduate student