You may be wondering who the heck is Gina Welch? Let me explain, Gina Welch is an atheist who faked a conversion experience, got baptised, and spent two years at Thomas Road Baptist Church in America and then wrote a book about her experiences, which is both disturbing and gutsy (you can read more information and a review of the book here).
It seems like she makes some good points, especially about conversion versus discipleship,
“How can you know if you’ve saved someone if there’s never follow-up, never counselling, never a progress report? How can you be sure the person hasn’t instantly reverted to his old ways? In other words, aren’t you simply counting the people who prayed the prayer in that instant rather than counting new Christians?… If you’re a sincere Christian you believe all it takes is that instant, as long as you’re sincere. Once you’ve prayed the sinner’s prayer, you’re good to go. God is supposed to abide in you and guide you, but really your ‘ways’ don’t matter. Your name is written forever in the Lamb’s book of life.’ It seemed evident that evangelicals were padding their rosters.”
No question we can be guilty of that, if you pray a prayer at summer camp and then spend the next year of your life living like anyone else chances are nothing changed when you said the prayer and it was all a bit emotional.
But anyway, in this interview with Trevin Wax she says this about what is attractive about Christianity,
“There are plenty of ideas in evangelical Christianity that appeal to me. It would be nice to know that even the most hideous acts of violence and destruction happen for a reason. It would be nice to know that this short life isn’t the end, that there’s something better on the other side, and that when I lose someone it’s only temporary. It would be nice to know what’s expected of me. It would be nice to know when I have dark thoughts or do something I know I shouldn’t it’s because that’s my natural sinful wiring, that I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. I think that’s why evangelical Christianity is such a popular formula–because it answers our common longings.”
So here’s my question, how could she spend two years in an evangelical church and still miss the point? And would the same thing happen if that happened in our church?
First here’s where she misses the point.
- ‘Hideous acts of violence and destruction’ don’t always happen for a reason because sin is chaotic, destructive, violent. The point is that God can redeem those things and work a miracle from an absolute horrific mess if we trust Him, He can release us from their awful power.
- If you think that every time you ‘lose someone it’s only temporary’ then either everyone you knows has followed Christ to the end of their days or you weren’t told about hell. There’s an strong possibility that separation will prove to be permanent. Which is no different to if there’s no God.
- And ‘when I have dark thoughts or do something I know I shouldn’t it’s because that’s my natural sinful wiring, that I shouldn’t feel guilty about it’ is completely wrong. That confuses creation and fall. Creation is made in the image of God to be perfect as He is perfect. Fall is the choice to do otherwise. When you sin in thought, word and deed you should feel guilty (although most people don’t or are even aware that there is anything to feel guilty about). You should feel guilty because it’s wrong and the fall is not an excuse or an opt-out from responsibility. Sin may be inherited but it’s not genetic, I don’t get to say to God, ‘but I was born that way’ as an excuse for sin. Instead I have my guilt and shame removed from me and released from its effects because of one who did not share in those dark thoughts, words or deeds.
I hope that if someone spends two years in our church they’ll know that life is only lived to the full if we seek first the kingdom in all its ways with all of our heart for all of our days and that the starting point to a life of discipleship is the cross of Christ and the empty tomb of the risen Lord. But I shan’t take that for granted.