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Freedom of speech not reflecting our freedom in Christ


The University of Missouri is the place I’ve called home for the past nine months. “Mizzou,” as it's so famously called, is split into two areas: red campus and white campus. In the heart of the white campus is a circle lined by brick pavers. And in that circle, people can say whatever they want, whenever they want. It is a First Amendment gathering spot where pretty much anything goes.

Anything.

A college freshman last year, I had to get used to the constant slandering, fundraising, protesting, and campaigning that occurred in that famous radius. I could not walk by without feeling pressured to sign a petition, take a flyer, or give money.

As a Christian, there were some things I did appreciate: The random Christian worship groups that would sings songs of praise as I was walking to class. But raised as a fiscal and social conservative, there were some things I did not appreciate: College students exclaiming that a woman should have the “rights” to her own body, and that “love” should not be decided by the government. But, I got used to those. If I wanted the good things, I must also put up with the bad things.

There was one thing, however, I never got used to: Some Christians harshly slandering non-Christians, condemning them to hell.

In Romans 1:16, Paul says he is “not ashamed of the gospel,” and in 1 Corinthians 4, Paul urges us to imitate him. Thus, as Christ’s followers, we are also called to not be ashamed of the gospel. We are supposed to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), unashamedly proclaiming the name of Jesus. After all, it does have the power to save.

The New Testament also, however, mentions the word love over 600 times. And Jesus tells us in John that all men will know His disciples by their love. THEY will know US by our LOVE! Love must be a pretty powerful tool, then.

While I commend the pastors in Speakers Circle for their passion in spreading the gospel, I can’t help but think that there must be a better way to tell people about Christ, like the worship bands who peacefully share their beliefs. After all, the basis of Christianity is Jesus’ love for humanity, and how can we convince others of the crazy love and grace that Jesus showed, and continues to show, toward His people if we don’t show it?

Another part of me does sometimes think that if even ONE person is convicted after hearing these speakers, then it’s worth it. After all, Jesus would have died for even ONE sinner. I am then, however, reminded of something that Mr. Colson said in his Doing the Right Thing series: God will never ask us to do anything bad to bring about anything good. Is this -- screaming at people that they will go to hell if they don’t repent -- doing something bad to bring about good? I can’t help but think that the answer is yes.

The preachers at Speakers Circle slightly remind me of the picketers at Westboro Baptist Church, who are famously known for their protests at soldiers’ funerals. I do not agree with Westboro’s theology -- that God hates America, “fags,” or the military, or that we should “thank God for IEDs.” This church is definitely a disgrace to the Christian faith. Though I do agree with some of the ideas that the Mizzou speakers are conveying -- that non-believers will go to hell (I mean, it’s true) -- I don’t agree with the way they are spreading this truth.

I shouldn't have to be embarrassed as a Christian when I walk by Speakers Circle, ducking my head to shut out my brothers and sisters in Christ. While God does call us to be radically transformed by the gospel rather than “lukewarm” Christians, he also calls us to love others and worship Him in the right way. And, yes, there is a right, and a wrong way, to worship God.

So, while I don’t necessarily agree with the beliefs of the students who stand up for themselves against the preachers, I can’t help but defend them, even though I'm a Christian. I would be offended too.


Comments:

Curious twist
Luther said that the Lord's work must be done in the Lord's way. And isn't it strange that His diatribes were not leveled at Pilate or Herod, but at the Pharisees and Saducees? I think that many times our rants (which mirror those of the secular fundamentalists) are a product of intellectual laziness by not civilly defending the faith and a tacit admission of unbelief in trusting in the wrath of man to acheive the purposes of God.
For your consideration
Hello again, Megan. I shall look forward to meeting you in Heaven! (Then again, my attention may be diverted for a while-- I expect that the first 10,000 years or so may be given over to gazing at Jesus!)

I don't know what kinds of issues you may be encountering at University, but here is a one-hour talk by D.A. Carson that I found extremely interesting and helpful. I continue to wonder and be interested in how the Gospel can most profitably be presented to the under-35s who have been raised under the kind of thinking which he discusses here.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/Telling-the-Premodern-Truth-to-Postmodern-People
Two Things Response
Hi Kevin! Thanks for your feedback. It was definitely great to hear someone who has had experiences similar to my own. You understand how difficult it can be to be in a university setting. Sometimes I feel that I not only have to defend myself to non-believers, but also to believers! It can be kind of exhausting; but, I often pray that God gives me the words to say, as well as the wisdom and knowledge to say the right things, in a way that doesn’t support the sin, but that also radiates Christ’s love for others. Your thoughts on John 13 were interesting and so true. We are HIS disciples and there is a clear distinction! And, as a college student now, I definitely agree with D.A. Carson -- the science classes aren’t the only problem us Christians are dealing with!
2 things
Hello, Megan. I had a similar college experience, at a Calif. state university. I was in a parachurch organization, and during registration week we had a table set up among the various campus organizations. Next to us was a group from the Metropolitan Community Church (an explicitly pro-gay group), and one of our people wandered over and started chatting with them, obviously quite pleased to see another Christian group on campus. When he returned to our table, I asked impishly if he knew about their agenda, and when he said no, i informed him. The transformation in his outlook was almost violent, it was so abrupt.

I am not quite sure why this one sin is seen by so many Christians to justify such ferocious condemnation, since the Bible seems to regard others as being more damaging both to an individual and to a society. There is an annual street fair in my small Bay Area city which draws approx. 100,000 attenders every September (which is strange, since the street fair is held in July-- just kidding), and I have seen some Christians hoisting ferocious anti-gay signs, and it always makes me cringe. I can't help but wonder why the ferocity about that. (And no, I am not condoning that sin, nor others.)

The second point is a small one: in John 13, Jesus says that all men will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. In addition, though I might be wrong, I believe the emphasis there is on WHOSE disciples we will show ourselves to be. I'm not saying this is a huge distinction, but I think it is a distinction worth considering.

But in the larger view, thanks Megan for keeping your eyes and your heart open on campus! Just this morning I listened to a talk by D.A. Carson, in which he said it's come to the point where Christian college students will find their viewpoint is being attacked much more in the English classes than in the sciences, or in Philosophy. I hope you will have enough depth and breadth not to fear Truth, but instead to see how to convey it and to live it, even in a secular University.