Question:

I was on staff at First Baptist Church in Springdale, Arkansas (FBCS) for several years. In studying for an upcoming sermon I ran across your web page at this link:†

http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVSermons/SpiritualWorship.htm

In that message you didnít mention that Bruce Barry, the designer of the sets, was led to Christ by the pastor just before beginning the task. You also neglected to say that Mr. Barry went on to make this his full-time ministry and created a Christian cartoon, The Roach Approach. You failed to mention that the church baptized 1,000 people shortly after Toon Town was created and has done so for several years. You did not include anything about the content of the worship services, the great ministries, or the outreach events of the church.

You did however indicate that FBCS is ďall about the physical.Ē That assessment is incorrect, and I wanted to correct it.

Jesus often met physical needs (healings, feeding people, showing signs, etc) before getting to the reason He really wanted to talk. That same technique is really the only thing FBC Springdale wanted to accomplish, meet the physical to accomplish the spiritual.

I send this message in all love and humility, and I hope next time you speak critically of another church you will remember to do your homework.†


Answer:

Oh, I was aware of most of these things when I wrote the sermon. It wasn't included because none of those things justify doing things contrary to God's teachings.

In essence you are arguing, not from Scripture, but that perceived good result from this effort so therefore it is right. I argued that an emphasis is being made on physical entertainment in hopes of gaining a spiritual result, something that you agree is true. But it is a false approach.

The ends never justify the means. If something is wrong or unauthorized by God, the fact that a perceived "good" results doesn't make the wrong suddenly right.

"And why not say, "Let us do evil that good may come"? --as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just" (Romans 3:8).

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2).

You also argue that thousands were baptized into your denomination, so therefore it must be right. By that method of argument, then the Roman Catholic Church is more right that you are since it has the greater numbers. But once again, the whole basis of argumentation is wrong because sin has the greatest following of all. Numbers do not make or prove something is right or wrong.

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).

"Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?"" (I Peter 4:18).

You imply that Jesus met the physical needs of people in order to attract people to the gospel, but Jesus denies that claim. For example, Jesus feed the five thousand in the wilderness because it was late and they had no where to go. But this is after they had come the long distance to hear Jesus' teachings. "And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34). Jesus did not lure them out with offers of food. In fact, before this time he never feed a crowd, and only did so once afterwards, despite the fact that large crowds followed him often.

Even in these two cases, Jesus didn't simply provide food, he worked a miracle because these miracles proved that his teachings were from God. "But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish--the very works that I do--bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me" (John 5:36).

But what is most telling is after the feeding of the five thousand, many attempted to follow him and Jesus rejected them. "Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him"" (John 6:26-27). Jesus did not want followers who came because of the physical. He sought people who were interested in the spiritual.

What you use for bait determines what you catch. You offer fun, games, and free food and you have a large crowd of people interested in fun, games, and free food. But we teach. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (I Corinthians 1:18-24).