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.