You Can Give Glory to God Without Giving a Tract : By Jon Speed

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Recently there has been a bit of dialogue in the evangelical world about whether or not Christians did the right thing on August 1st when they showed up en masse in response to Mike Huckabee’s call to support Chik-fil-a and their stance on the Biblical definition of marriage. Some are saying that this definition isn’t clearly Biblical to begin with (tripe) and others suggest that our witness has been compromised because now we have shown ourselves to be unloving (effeminate girly-talk, with apologies to women everywhere) . This argument buys into the LGBT party line on Chik-fil-a Day. “I’m gay, and your Facebook status on going to Chik-fil-a is insensitive and hateful towards me, your gay (friend, family member, co-worker, etc.).” Really? Because all of your posts advocating for gay marriage and the homosexual agenda make me as giddy as a schoolgirl and your vitriol against Christians is just so cute! I don’t get offended AT ALL when you do that. Nonsense. The fact that some evangelicals countenance this by taking it seriously is an indicator of how brain washed we are by the so-called friendship evangelism experts.

Still others in the circles I navigate in are suggesting that it was an OK thing to do, but not the best thing because the event wasn’t “about the gospel.” This is the objection that I am dealing with here. This argument is based on the idea that if something is not done for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel, it is a waste of time. By “proclaiming the gospel” they mean some specific presentation of the gospel message which closes with a challenge to follow Jesus. It would be easy to argue that this has been my own position in times past. Call it a change of heart, or a slightly different perspective, or whatever, but I don’t follow the argument.

Listen, I know that there are dangers with equating some sort of exterior action with the sum total of Christianity. Going to Chik-fil-a on August 1st doesn’t make you a Christian, although it would not be surprising to see a pastor standing outside of one of their exits with decision cards in hand. Let’s be honest about purpose here. LGBT groups conspired to boycott Chik-fil-a (something that they had aneurisms over when J.C. Penney’s was boycotted) because they hold to the Biblical definition of marriage. Christians showed their support and probably broke some kind of junk food sales record. I can rejoice over this with a good conscience.

The main error my friends are making is that they have this strange idea that unless you are handing someone a gospel tract with their chikin, little to nothing of any real substance has been accomplished. Not only is this an error in common sense, it is an error regarding the Word of God. It is possible to glorify God without giving someone a gospel tract. Did I say that out loud? No, I wrote it. Whew.

Don’t believe me?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Chik-fil-a Day was done to the glory of God. For the first time in recent memory, Christians actually stood up for something. They ate breakfast, lunch or dinner for the glory of God and His view of marriage. Will it result in revival? No. Will it lead to the conversion of millions? No. But in a culture of tolerance and compromise, why can’t we just rejoice that the sleeping giant of evangelicalism actually woke up and did something that does give God glory?

There are a lot of things that do not include evangelizing the lost which give God glory. Reading my Bible. Praying (talk about a neglected duty in even good, Reformed churches). Raising my children to love God and know Him. Voting based on an informed conscience. Taking care of my house and property. Writing this blog. Slaying a critter that is digging holes in my foundations. In even the most mundane issues in life (eating and drinking) I am to glorify God.

This kind of thinking that insists on a good person test in any and every Christian endeavor is a minimalistic view of the gospel. The gospel is not a presentation or sales pitch. It is Jesus Himself (Mark 1:1). How the commands of Jesus and the whole counsel of God apply to all of life (not just my eternal destiny) includes the gospel. The gospel effects how I look at marriage. The gospel effects how I spend my money. It effects where I eat my fast food. It changes my vote. It cause me to glorify God in every area of my life.

In American evangelicalism we are pre-conditioned to think it’s one or the other. We’re either one-man walking Billy Graham crusades or we are liberal do-gooders. Why can’t we be about the uncompromised gospel and the moral issues of our day? Charles Spurgeon was. We all know of Spurgeon’s sermons and his theology. How many know about his methodology? Precious few. They know nothing of the orphanage he built (Stockwell Orphanage) or the almshouses and school. They don’t know that he once wrote, “To benefit the community we must seek the good of every individual man, woman and child; and for a nation to do well, each individual must work righteousness” (cited in Drummond’s “Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers” 402). He wrote this in the context of how the British classes ought to work together for the sake of the society as a whole. Where did he get this idea? Could it be that the gospel informed his view of economics? Of course, the gospel drove everything Spurgeon did and you can bet that the gospel message was clearly communicated to the orphans. But he did not marginalize evangelical efforts to change society as many modern evangelicals do. He worked at it. Consider his close friend and fellow laborer for societal change, George Muller.

Perhaps we can learn something by way of contrast. One fast food company that Christians love is In-N-Out Burger. Why? Because on the inside edge of the bottom rim of their soda cups they print a Scripture reference. Beyond the fact that the location of the reference could only be more obscure if they printed the verses on the inside of their straws, I suspect that most of the Biblically illiterate of our day probably think the reference is a manufacturer’s code of some kind. The last time I was there the reference on my cup was Nahum 1:7, an excellent verse for the covenant people of God but not exactly part of any gospel presentation you have ever heard, which is probably as it should be.

Does anyone issue caveats about In-N-Out’s attempts at evangelism? No. In fact, far from issuing warnings, In-N-Out is the restaurant of choice for many if you go to the Mecca of pastor’s conferences, The Shepherd’s Conference, hosted at John MacArthur’s church in Sun Valley, CA. If memory serves, I seem to remember hearing that they had In-N-Out cater a conference there at one point. Should they write blogs against In-N-Out because they don’t proclaim a clear gospel? I don’t think so. After all, it is fast food for crying out loud. And, minimalistic as it is, In-N-Out is doing far more than the average church does that gives away bottles of water at festivals. But if you are going to criticize Chik-fil-a and give In-N-Out a free pass remember this: we haven’t heard anything from In-N-Out Burger on the homosexual marriage issue. We live in a day and age when the world doesn’t really care if we print Bible verses on the bottom of cups but if you stand for Biblical marriage in the public arena you are the closest thing they have to the devil. The argument can be made well that Chik-fil-a is doing more for the gospel than In-N-Out because at the very least, they’re making a statement on what “sin” is.

At some point we need to grow up and get balanced. Here’s to a Christianity that preaches the gospel and changes–or at least challenges–the culture. [Insert Chik-fil-a cup bumping toast here.]

By Jon Speed

Crown Rights would like to call your attention to one of the recent episodes of #Edified we did discussing this very issue. As God’s providence would have it this topic was discussed several months prior to Chick-Fil-A on the Edified couch with Gary DeMar and The Chocolate Knox.

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12 Responses to "You Can Give Glory to God Without Giving a Tract : By Jon Speed"

  1. Michael Coughlin says:

    Well stated.

  2. You can hear Christians already responding to “why didn’t you give
    them a Gospel tract?”, with “I can glorify God without sharing the Gospel”

  3. I agree that everything is about the Glory of God, and that everything we do should be through Him and for Him. but with all due respect, I think the post lacked grace, especially in reference to “The Good Person Test”. I only know of one ministry that is known for that. And with that, I would have to assume that there were elements of this post that possibly did not glorify God. With only 2% of Christians who actively share the Gospel through word, this is yet another loophole to continue playing charades with the issue of Christ’s command to preach. I do love you guys, but don’t agree with every element of this post. 
    Thanks again for taking the word seriously. Please take this as a brother who appreciates what you guys do and commit what I said to prayer.

    Grace & Peace, Shane Martin

  4. Alondra Hanley says:

    Thank you so much, excellent, I do hear that so much “I thought (name event here) was good, but no one preached the gospel, so it was a waste” no it wasn’t, we DO glorify God in our actions, like eating at Chic-Fil-A or In-AND-OUT (I wish we had those where I live…) I don’t shop at one store, but I will at another, I don’t announce why I do with trumpets and an obnoxious slogan on my shirt stating my action, but I am doing it for the Glory of God, because I seek to honor HIM in my choices and where I spend the money HE gave to me. 
    All that to say, good article!

  5. Eldon Thompson says:

      We do not have this store in Ontario, but surely would support it, if we did. Amen to a well written article, Jon!! We continue to pray for you, and your family situations. Grace, Peace and Joy, Eldon and Ruth

  6. Angela Braxton says:

    Excellent article. Matthew 5:16.

  7. Joshua Elsom says:

    I can’t speak for everyone who voiced a concerned about the seeming absence of the gospel last Wednesday, but I have some thoughts. http://joshuaelsom.blogspot.com/2012/07/chick-fil-and-gospel.html

    I think that you may have misunderstood what many of us meant when we said that “…the event wasn’t ‘about the gospel.’”  You may have had a particular person, or persons, in mind when writing, but since you did not cite anyone, or link us to any articles, I’ll assume that you are addressing “about the gospel” as it is most commonly used by the people who offered that question as an objection. In other words, the people who were airing their objections, what did they mean when they asked, “Where was the gospel?”

    You defined making it “about the gospel” as, “‘proclaiming the gospel’…some specific presentation of the gospel message which closes with a challenge to follow Jesus.”  That is not what most of us are saying, brother.  What we are saying is that there was seemingly no consideration of the gospel in how Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day was conceived or conducted. There was no apparent concern for how those lost in the sinful delusion of same-sex practice would interpret what most of us were demonstrating.  It was such a mingled mixture of conservative politics and religion that there was not a clear distinct message that could even point back to the gospel.  Colossians 4:5—6 says that we are to “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”  I don’t think Mike Huckabee, or the vast majority of those who followed his Christian-Politico lead were gracious or wise. And, since you brought it up, I do think that the pictures and messages that were spattered across Facebook and Twitter last week did have a significant possibility of sending the wrong message; “It’s us against you.”   Some will object, that our LGBT image bearing neighbors would hear “It’s them against us” no matter what was said. I agree, but if they are to object than I want their objection to be against the right thing. They need to object to the Scriptures, and be offended because of the offensive nature of the gospel, not because they hate a Tea Party/Conservative/Christian movement. From my vantage it looked to me as though a lot of Christians liked being “right” more than they loved proclaiming the “truth.” (And to my reformed brethren, who would foolishly argue that “the GLBT crowd will call us haters, and will not believe the gospel no matter how ‘wisely’ it is considered or delivered, therefore, we can approach this situation anyway we like,” I’d caution you, and ask you to consider that a line of thinking, that jettisons wisdom and a consideration of the gospel, is not far adrift from hyper-calvinism.  A hyper-calvinist would argue that the church should not evangelize the lost, because God will save His Elect, in His own time, for His own glory, apart from the Church’s effort.  Evangelical hyper-calvinists, that is the name I am coining, are people who would argue that they do not need to wisely consider their gospel delivery, their method, the context which they are speaking into, their tone — they don’t need to consider any of those things — because God will save His Elect, in His own time, for His own glory, apart from the wisest of gospel deliveries.  While that may be true, you have no Scriptural warrant to abandon godly wisdom.)

    At the front end of your article you inferred that this line of thinking is “…an indicator of how brain washed we are by the so-called friendship evangelism experts.”  I suppose that assumes that there is absolutely no warrant for long term relational investment with unbelievers.  Not everybody, as I am sure you will agree, is going to respond to contact/confrontational evangelism.  For many, it will take a very long time to cultivate confidence and to prove yourself worthy of trust, before the Spirit will give life to your words.  That was the case with my neighbor next door.  It probably only took me a week or so to share the gospel with her, but it took about a year of serving her (financially, handy-man, baby-sitting, etc), counseling her, and praying with her, that God revealed his call upon her life and opened her heart to hear my words.  I baptized her three months ago.  The same will, likely, be true of those trapped by homosexual sin.  It will take intentional trust building time for most of them to hear the gospel.

    In my opinion, if Christians would begin to view themselves as missionaries sent to the places where the live, work, and play, with the message of the gospel, and not simply as Americans who go to church on Sunday, than this problem would not exist.  A wise and effective missionary will not only know the gospel and the Scriptures, but he will know the people whom he is trying to reach with the gospel.  He will know their culture, their idols, their taboos, their religions, and he will know how to speak the gospel effectively into that context.  The sentiment behind Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day was perfectly sound; a show of Christian solidarity and support for Dan Cathy. Unfortunately, it was tainted by political conservatism.  And a Christian message that is mixed with political rhetoric ceases to be a Christian message.  That is not being wise, that is not giving the gospel due consideration, that is not thinking like a missionary, and the product is a damaged gospel witness.  That is why I ask, “Where was the gospel?”

    I love you and appreciate your work, brother.

    • Jonspeed says:

       Josh,

      Sorry to take so long getting back to this.  I had a much needed family vacation this week and am just getting back now. 

      When I wrote this I didn’t have you in mind.  In fact I can’t say I had any one person in mind since there was so much of this kind of response. 

      Allow me to restate. The gospel affects all of life.  There is no part of life which is off limits to the transforming power of Jesus Christ.  This would include politics. 

      As I read your response I am getting the idea that the missionary you would have us be would be one that teaches that Jesus does not care about your politics just so long as you convert to Christianity.  In other words, nail down your eternal destination and you can vote how you want. 

      Now I may be wrong here, but in your last paragraph that is the idea I am getting.  Is this accurate?  It may or may not be the heart of what you are saying, but I have heard as much from other church leaders. 

      If the unbelieving world got the idea that Chik-fil-a Day was about politics, and who can blame them since homosexual marriage is an issue related to politics, then my question is, “OK, and your point is?”.  If we act as if Jesus is Lord of everything but how you vote, I am not sure we’re talking about the gospel.  He is Lord over every area of life and the last time I checked, we are subjects in His Kingdom.  Entire books of the Bible are devoted to the supremacy of the Kingdom of God and His Christ (e.g. Daniel).  In Mark, His gospel is called “the gospel of the Kingdom.”  If we tell unbelievers that they can come to Jesus and that He won’t follow them into the voting booth, I am pretty sure we are lying. 

      All of this to say that your presupposition that it is the missionary thing to do to ignore politics and focus on “the gospel” (conversion) is a distortion of the gospel and what saving faith looks like.  Missionaries don’t only focus on conversion.  Not good ones anyway. 

      Now, to bring this back to the point a bit, do you have some evidence that this was a political issue?  This is what we are hearing from the LGBT crowd, but where was Mitt Romney on August 1st?  (Probably agreeing with the LGBT crowd based on his recent comments on the Boy Scouts.)  The tea party?  Were they there doing sign ups for their email lists or passing the basket for donations, because I haven’t heard of any of that happening on the 1st.  Did Huckabee use this to make a presidential bid?  Where’s the proof of this political conspiracy on August 1st? 

      Your argument sounds very contextual as it has been redefined as of late.  The Word of God does not seek common ground with the philosophies of men.  It destroys them (1 Corinthians 1:18-23).  In the process of destroying vain arguments that are in opposition to the gospel we can expect that the world will hate us because they hate Him.  This shouldn’t be the source of pious hand wringing.  If we fall for that we will falter when any bold declaration of truth in this pluralistic culture is made because we might have offended someone. 

      I’m not advocating being a “jerk for Jesus.”  I am advocating speaking the truth in love because the culture knows what we believe anyway.  We’re not fooling anyone when we act as if God doesn’t have anything to say about marriage. 

      • Joshua Elsom says:

        In actuality, I don’t think we are that far apart in our theology
        of the gospel, particularly when speaking of the Kingdom. I believe
        that the gospel should guide our every move and that its influence
        should pervade every realm of life. That includes politics. I also
        believe that the gospel extends beyond the reconciliation of men with
        their Creator; it is not just about conversion. Reconciliation is by
        far the principle component and goal of the gospel, but there is more.
        The gospel message, for instance, also includes the promise of a
        restored Creation and the reestablishment of Shalom within it. A
        Creation and society where the cultural mandate given to the first Adam
        is fulfilled by the last; where image bearing creatures, who perfectly
        reflect the person whose image they’ve been given, will fill the earth.

        Where we likely part is in how we apply the theology we share (assuming you agree with what I’ve shared). As I
        said, we should be involved in politics. However, that political involvement
        and our civil discourse in the public square should be hemmed in by gospel wisdom. We should not add offense to the gospel which is not intrinsically present within the gospel. And that is what I sense happened on CFA Appreciation Day. “It’s us against you.” That is what, I think, most non-believing people heard/saw. To publicly stand for righteousness without also publicly pointing to Jesus (in some way), is equivalent to proclaiming the law without the gospel. I don’t want gay people to stop being gay simply because it is better for our culture, I want gay people to repent and buy into our story, because our story is better for their lives, here and now, and their repentance and submission to Jesus will change the culture and expand the influence of His Kingdom.

      • Jon Speed says:

        We do agree on much. You are right, it is the application. But let’s be clear about something. When it comes to how this nation is run and the agenda regarding homosexual marriage, it IS us against them. And them against us. To pretend it is not is not intellectually honest and if you talk to LGBT activists they will tell you as much. In the political arena it is wisdom to make stands, demonstrate force with numbers, and create newsworthy events. The people of the world are wiser than the children of light in these respects.

        You are making the point that social demonstrations of a Biblical worldview and a gospel presentation are mutually exclusive. I can (and must) still love my friends who are homosexuals, one who is a homosexual activist, while standing against their worldview. I met this friend a few years ago at a gay pride event. She was yelling in a bullhorn and we were returning the favor. Circumstances led to my wife and I having dinner with her and sharing the gospel with her for more than two hours. We stay in touch and she emails me about questions she has about the gospel. Since we met we have seen each other at other pride events and we would always say hello, if the police would let us (since they are there to separate the groups). I post against homosexual marriage and she posts in support. But we are still friends.

        True friendship is able to withstand heated disagreement when there is respect for one another. Yet another reason I am not a fan of much so-called friendship evangelism. I can make an argument that I do more real friendship evangelism than the friendship evangelists. I have real friendships that are honest and direct with those that I am sharing the gospel with. The end result is respect, something we as Christians don’t get much of and for good reason.

  8. Abraham says:

    All i have to say is Preach it!

  9. Jonspeed says:

     I can hear street preachers already responding to, “Why didn’t you glorify God?” with “Hey, I gave them a gospel tract.  My responsibility is over and done with and my conscience salved.”