I passed him again today on my way to class. The Preacher. That’s what he’s come to be known as to all the students on campus. He has been coming here for years…ever since I started at the U. He stands out on the Mall (that’s what we call a park-like walkway through the center of what is probably the “main street” of campus) and preaches at the students passing by. There is always a rather large crowd around him whenever he is there. I get the feeling that they are there more to see the show than for any other reason, though.

And as I passed him I heard him again. Pointing fingers. That’s the way he always does it. Words of Christ’s love, forgiveness, and grace never seem to be the words that are passing his lips. Always words of judgment and rebuke. You’ve committed fornication! You’ve been immoral! You’ve sinned terribly! If you don’t repent, God will send you to Hell! That seems to be the substance of his messages.

As usual when I pass by him, I grimace. It’s not just that I think his message is too harsh. It’s also the…unusual style in which he gives it. Perhaps it’s all part of the show, but he’s always acting like a total nut. Today, I heard no more than a sentence from him as I hurried to a test. This is what it was: “Some of you, before you were 18, had already committed…fornicationnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!” He drew the last word out dramatically. At other times I’ve heard him raving about masturbation. He was arrested once when some young woman called campus security because he told her that any girl who went out with a guy who masturbates is a whore! There was quite a bit of a stir about his freedom of speech (why should anyone be arrested because some brat of a girl is offended?) but that doesn’t make it any better that he was saying such foolish things in the first place.

And I wonder, how is God being served through all of this? Will anyone really respond to a message of condemnation? The days when people trembled in the aisles and fell to the ground moaning upon hearing terrible stories of Hell are long past (thankfully!) Now, most people will admit to their sin, but don’t really think that it is anything bad! And even if they did quail at such rebuke, does this lead people to a saving faith in Christ?

I wonder if you could show any time in the New Testament when anyone called someone to turn to God by pointing a finger in his face and telling him how terrible he was and listing his sins? Is this the kind of message Christ gave? Is this the kind of message the apostles gave? Why must this be the message which our campus preachers take up?

But what do I know? Perhaps this man is doing more good than harm and I don’t know it. But I can’t help but feel that he is just making Christianity in general look foolish. And that, unfortunately, makes God look foolish to many people.

But then, which of us has not been guilty of that a time or two?

It is something to consider, anyway. I guess in the long run, only God will know the final tally.

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