I received a private comment from a concerned reader of this blog who supports street preaching. Here it is:
Steve, I found a comment on latimes.com about the street evangelism during the Rose Parade. (Read article here.) Just wanted to make you aware of it. Not sure if the poster is talking about your group. If it was another group, like Ruben Israel’s, I can see why someone might get upset. The sign guys are a little too brash.
Here’s a video of a three minute message I gave to the crowds at the Rose Parade. Judge for yourself if I’m too brash. Also, make sure you notice the audience’s response after I finished and determine if they thought I was too belligerent. After the video, read the L. A. Times comment and then my commentary.
Here’s the comment that my reader referred to:
I find it to be really lousy, slanted journalism that the LA Times is making an extra effort to point to the Occupy float as some kind of incident or controversy at the parade while at the same time you don’t mention AT ALL that there was a large group of right wing evangelical extremists marching up and down the parade route for HOURS before the parade harassing the crowd with hateful, threatening “Jesus is gonna get you” messages. They also reappeared immediately after the official Rose Parade (and before any Occupy people were seen were I was standing near the grandstands). Despite complaints, the police would not check to see if they had a permit to hold their own pre-parade and they were much more of a nuisance and of a controversy than the Occupy folks. Shame on you for ignoring this.
Here’s my response:
The Tournament of Roses Parade brings out every type of evangelist, quite literally, the good, the bad and the ugly. The photos to the left and right are great examples of the latter two descriptions. Not only do these types of people bring an imbalanced view of who God is, they promote false doctrine and ONLY ONE WAY. Of course, their one way is only through their organization. See for yourself at the 800HowTrue website. I reported on them in an article from 2009.
My reader mentioned Ruben Israel. The photo below (from his website), shows the type of message he and his group display.
I dialogued with Ruben a little over a year ago on Facebook discussing his style of evangelism with mine, then posted it to my blog with his permission. To see the marked difference between our methods, read my post called “Perspectives: Inside the Mind of a Radical Sign Guy.”
I suppose our group could be considered obnoxious though we try very hard to be winsome and appealing. We approach our task with good humor and a positive attitude. We also know that not everyone shares our views on eternity, so we attempt to be gracious. Very gracious.
So how should Christians respond to those who are not so nice in their evangelistic methods, or are out there with bad intentions and ulterior motives? It’s best to respond the way the apostle Paul did, when he heard about the foolishness that was being preached in Christ’s name while he was under arrest.
“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Phillipians 1: 15-18)