Sunday, September 30, 2007
This is an episode of the Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends show from BBC2 England. Louis (an unbeliever) goes to televangelists and various "evangelicals" around the land to investigate what it's like to be "born again". This episode shows how damaging the "repeat this prayer" mentality and man-centered theology is to those who do not believe as well as those who profess to. In this show, Louis meets the Children of God group who Francis Schaeffer speaks of in his book The New Super Spirituality. Schaeffer talks in this book about how he feels sorry for the people who are ignorantly involved in this movement because of the strict legalism found in their sect. He made this comment in 1972, but the legalism displayed in this video is here offset by such things as the "flirty fishing" (the girls use their virtue as bait for the lost) technique used by the group.
This show displays the many things to do wrong in "witnessing" and "believing". Notice how the whole basis for this being "born again" (as explained by the various people) is based on a decision the individual makes which is blatantly Semi-Palagian and is a theology that is very widely preached in the modern church. Also notice at one point in the segment when the "Pastor" is urging the audience to repeat "the sinner's prayer", the people who brought Louis pressure him into saying it. Louis' says, "Even though I didn't believe, I wanted to please Ann Lee so much that a few words spilled out..." Think about that for a second. Louis prayed that prayer even though he didn't believe and walked out of there as an unbeliever. Was your "conversion experience" the same? Were you pressured into saying some prayer even though you didn't believe the words you repeated? Were there honest questions you had or still have that you have been pressured into laying aside to please the people that surround you? It's sad to say but I've lived the majority of my life in this mentality, and it is one of the most abusive mentalities a person can have.
Also, notice at the end of this video "the altar call". Does it sound like anything familiar? The Charismatic experience may not be the same that you've had (I haven't had one similar), but is something like the "pray this prayer" then later in the service "if you prayed this prayer, let me see your hands" experience familiar? If it is, you need to search the Scriptures and not be afraid to be honest that you have questions about what words like justification, God's propitiation, and the Holy Spirit's sanctification truly mean. Don't be oppressed by Spiritual bullies who would rather you keep silent about your questions rather than coming to the truth and light to have these things revealed. Verily I say to you, they will have their reward.
To the "pastor's" wife's credit (or rather God's) she did inform Louie that she doesn't believe that he has received Jesus even after he informs her that he prayed the prayer and asked Jesus in his heart but didn't think he was converted. However, towards the end, Louis asks the "Pastor", "Is it possible that it's just the power of suggestion; that it's people who need to feel healed and need to believe and that you help them to that and that it's basically cathartic, that it's human centered and not God centered?" Notice the shallowness of the Pastor's response. Francis Schaeffer boldly declared that believers should always be ready to give "honest answers to honest questions" and to profess that Christianity is an objective faith (that there are true facts that one can believe in and one doesn't have to give up their intellect to believe in Jesus Christ). Peter speaks of always being prepared to give an answer to the hope that lies within us. Maybe you aren't always ready because you don't truly have this hope. This video should provide a wake-up call to all those involved who feel pressured to be in the painful, monotonous routine of pretending to believe when all the while being slaves to sin and unrighteousness and knowing it but are not sure of the way out of it. My prayer is this allows for those who experience this Spiritual abuse know that it is alright to expect honest answers to honest questions instead of the gibberish given by those who cannot give honest answers themselves because they haven't denied themselves and come to the light. When the Gospel is trivialized in the way these people do it, it's no wonder that men like Loius walk away considering Christianity a joke. If this is what Christianity actually is, and it was the only experience I had with it, I would as well.