Monday, December 7, 2009

Confusing the Lost?

"Several churches in Boise, Idaho are offering to pay people's parking tickets in an effort to demonstrate God's grace. ...

On December 12, organizers plan to gather in front of Boise City Hall and offer to pay off up to $10,000 in delinquent parking tickets.

...[T]he purpose of the giveaway is to help people understand that although they've made mistakes, forgiveness is available."
I'm all for creative methods to explain the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. In this case, though, I wonder if they're communicating the wrong message. Specifically, I wonder if they will accidentally perpetuate some bad theology.

One way in which people frequently misunderstand — and attack — the Christian message is to portray it as a vengeful God venting His wrath on an innocent, uninvolved third party. This may make Jesus look very gracious, but it makes God look petty and cruel.

The divinity of Jesus makes this all work -- God doesn't punish a third party; God takes the punishment on Himself in human form.

But that distinction is often missed. And this program, where an uninvolved third party shows up to pay the debt owed the government, seems to facilitate that.

Am I making too much of this, or are they making a mistake here?


Spherical said...

Sounds like a "hit and run" gospel attack. That is where we throw a few (or several thousand) dollars at something, and hope people will see Jesus in it. Then we run and wonder why it failed. Real conversion is relational. Jesus touched lives. I think the bad theology has already taken place!

ChrisB said...

Hit and run -- not a bad description.

Anonymous said...

Just another instance of misguided bible teaching, and a distorted understanding of loving one neighbor.