Everytime I engage the more liberal parts of the Christian Church I am amazed at how clueless these folks really are about true evangelism. I suppose I should not be amazed. Afterall, if you don’t have a gospel that takes sin and the fall seriously, and grace biblically, along with an objective/subjective redemption accomplished by the historic Christ and the blessed Holy Spirit working supernaturally, then you don’t really have a lot of good news to share. And when you continually reinvent your message to fit the culture you have no anchor for the soul either.
I was among mainline Christians again this week and picked up a copy of The Circuit Rider (March-April 2005), a magazine for United Methodist clergy published by Cokesbury, the denominational publishing house. In this issue I discovered a full-page ad for a program called Living the Questions (www.livingthequestions.com). The tag line says Living the Questions is "an unapologetically liberal alternative to the Alpha course." For those who do not know Alpha is a twelve-week course that is extremely popular in many churches, especially in mainline churches. I can explain this very simply. If you find a mainline church with life, spiritual growth, and effective evangelism it is likely using Alpha. It is one of the finest programs I know for winning people to real living faith in Christ.
Living the Questions might better be called "living your doubts and reacting to evangelicals who take the gospel seriously." It is a web based program designed for small group participation featuring radical liberals such as Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, who both openly doubt that a great deal of the Jesus story is factually historical. Then there is seminar leader John Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopal bishop, one of the most noted deniers of orthodox faith in America. With John B. Cobb, Jr., a process theologian (which means he believes God is in "process", or in effect, changing in his mind and nature), joining this august team you have a thoroughly modern group of true liberals who have made a career out of attacking and undermining historic, confessional, Christianity. This ad informs us that there is a special bonus session included for United Methodists by Leslie Griffiths, pastor of Wesley Chapel, London. Griffiths is no friend to orthodoxy either.
Rarely do liberals have really fresh, new ideas. They incessantly copy culture and the ideas of others who know how to win people. In this case these particular liberals must be deeply troubled by the evangelical success of Alpha. If this were not so then why would they create and market a progam as a "liberal alternative" by their own admission? It is a fitting tribute to Alpha, and the gracious work of the Holy Spirit through it, that such folks need to mimic the work of evangelicals in their respective denominations. If these evangelicals succeed through using programs like Alpha, and I pray every day that they will, then there is still hope for Methodism, Lutheranism, Presbyterianism and Anglicanism, as well as some other historic Protestant groups. I seriously doubt that this new liberal alternative will make any contribution to real evangelism at all since the leaders have no real gospel to offer. What a waste of time. Liberals just just don’t get it, especially when it comes to conversion and evangelism. But then a century plus of liberal Christianity has proven this beyond any reasonable doubt.