Sunday, December 2, 2007

Bullwhip Guy vs. Bull-horn Guy

I enjoy looking at the website 'A Little Leaven', because it nearly always gives me some quick mindless laughs at what other people do in the name of Christianity. They show things like people selling the Jesus Sandals, Perfume of Heaven, silly board games, all of which the bloggers feel are clear heresy in the Church. But they recently posted a video that was dealing with an issue that I have a hard time wrestling with – the evangelistic value of the Emergent Church movement (Bull-whip Guy) versus the Bible thumpers who preach on street corners making sure everyone knows that they are sinners (the Bull-Horn Guy). I would appreciate anyone can provide to help me sort through who is right. The videos can be seen on 'A Little Leaven' (the link is to the side of my blog), and look for the entry on I believe Friday November 30th.)


First, let me give you a little background of this fight. The Emergent Church is viewed by most older Christians as being without foundation because they rely on personal experience of God over reading the Bible. Emergents are young, Protestant, and designed to engage other young post-modern unchurched people. Rob Bell is one of the Emergent Church leaders whose Church grew really large in a short period of time. He has written a wonderful book entitled 'The Velvet Jesus', that I enjoyed. In the video 'Bull-horn' Guy, Rob Bell is there telling the Bull-horn Guy to put his bull-horn down, and stop telling people that they are sinners because no one is listening. He doesn't like the Bull-horn Guy's method because he doesn't think it is loving, and because he is hurting other Christian movements.


Bull-Whip Guy is a video of a more conservative point of view. They point out that Jesus took out a bull-whip and overturned the temple money-changers tables. Jesus Himself was critical of those who were making money at the expense of giving God glory in His Temple in Jerusalem. And He certainly was critical of the Pharisees and other religious leaders who did not care for other people, and were only focused on their power and prestige.


I appreciate both viewpoints, but I am having a difficult time sorting out which of the two positions is more right. I understand that traditional Evangelicals feel it is the most loving thing they can do to make sure people know that they are sinners, and that they need a Savior. But the Bull-horn Guy doesn't seem that interested in the people he is speaking to, and so doesn't seem very loving to me.


But I also see problems with what the Emergent Church is doing. I love God's Word, and I have been very blessed by it, and I hate to see any group lessen its importance. And the video of the Bullwhip Guy is right – Jesus was very critical and even attacked some people and groups. But Jesus also was very engaged with the problems that the people He talked to were going through. If someone was ill, He healed them. If they were demon-possessed, He freed them. If they were hungry, He fed them. He made sure that a person's most basic needs were met first, before providing God's teaching. But the Emergent point is that we can trust the Holy Spirit to convict the world of its sin (John 16:8-11), and so do we really need street evangelists like Bullhorn Guy doing his work?


So I am not sure of what to do with all of this. If you can provide any thoughts I would appreciate it.


Bryan & Meggan said...

I think the question is who has the more correct characterization of the other side!

May I suggest you reading this:

for some other thoughts?


Edward Oleander said...

So the fundamental question is: Who is the better role model, the Benchwarmer who LIKES Bullhorn Guy, or the Benchwarmer who DISLIKES Bullhorn Guy?

The answer is: Three pounds of flax.

That answer comes closer to the Emergent dudes view, and if you can tell me why, you get 3 points of extra credit.

You're stressing about this for no good reason. You seem to think an absolute choice is in order, but it isn't. Even though some of the Emergent views look more like '60s hippie-talk, it isn't a crime to adopt some of their logic. Wisdom, after all, is where you find it. Take what looks good and leave the rest. I find plenty of wisdom in the Bible, some in the Koran, a little in the Talmud, and a fair hunk in the writings of Buddha...

So... why the Bullhorn philosophy is a bad guide for Christian behavior. Bullhorn Guy Lovers (and the religious sub-strata that spawns them) have obvious anger issues. You're right about not feeling the love. There's a good reason people like me ignore people like him. Remember that the slippery-slope end product of the Bullhorn mentality is the "God Hates Fags" idiots who show up at military funerals. The "unchurched" like myself see all Evangelicals who try to "help" us and "love" us by listing our sins as belonging to that same line of thinking (mostly to a MUCH MUCH less extent). We know what our sins are, thank you.

The Bullhorn people claim it's okay to point out sin and evil deeds because Jesus did it to the moneyers in the Temple. But that is just plain WRONG! It was okay for JESUS because He is free of sin, and is, in fact, God. But we are not Jesus and do not have His wisdom, so we need to keep our eyes open and our mouths shut. With God it is always a case of "Do as I say, not as I do." That whole tale is not a guide for us to follow, but a reminder that even a loving God retains the right to get Righteously Pissed. For us to do so is false pride in ourselves. God tells His followers to pass along His word... NOT his judgments, which he goes to great pains to reserve for Himself.

One of the reasons it is so hard to choose between those two videos is that they are addressing TOTALLY different subjects. There really is no conflict between the two. Parody Guy (and Bullhorn People in general) are focused on hating sin (and pointing it out ad nauseum). The Emergent Dude (who smokes WAY too much weed) is focused on loving people. Both are legit concepts, both are valid, so why should you have to choose?

Loving people but hating their sins is by far the greatest contribution to philosophy by Christianity. So the underlying concept of both videos is sound. But here is my take:

You are better off emulating the laid-back love message of the Emergents (even if you reject 90% of the rest of their views, which you should), rather than the sin-bashing of the Bullhorners. You place your own soul in less jeopardy by emphasizing love than by going after sin, which risks butting in on God's reserved area.

Now I close with a great Straw Man... Bullhorners are nothing more than regurgitated Puritans. Puritans were a totally repugnant sub-species of Dung Beetle (my ultimate American ancestor was one, so i know). YOU don't want to be a Puritan, DO you? Hehehe...