Question:

I wanted to ask you one more thing though, on my University campus today there is a preacher that stands in an area with heavy foot traffic and preaches to the campus walking by. Many of the students are very annoyed by him, and he is heavily ridiculed, but I don't know what to think of him. I don't know what his exact beliefs are, all I know is he always preaches a message of "repent or perish" and speaks a lot of hell. I know it is wrong when some of these preachers call passersby "sluts" and such but should they condemn these people to hell (I Corinthians 5:12)? I'm trying to understand whether I should support the gospel being preached in this manner.


Answer:

These are typically street preachers who typically are from a Baptist background, though I doubt it is limited to this denomination. They get the idea from Jonah. "And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day's walk. Then he cried out and said, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"" (Jonah 3:4). There is great deal of difference between these street preachers and Jonah. Jonah had a specific message from God to deliver to the city of Nineveh. Jonah's message was not one of harassment a warning from God.

The message itself is based on Jesus' words: "There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-5). While the topic is that people need to repent to avoid perishing, notice that the delivery again vastly different from these street preachers.

What is missing is the purpose of preaching. Preaching is persuading people to accept the truth.

  • "And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation"" (Acts 2:40).
  • "Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God" (Acts 13:43).
  • "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:22-26).

There are occasions when strong words are needed for some people, but the exception doesn't define the general rule.

No man can decide the ultimate fate of another person. We can discuss that God said that certain sins will lead a person to hell. We can point out that people are on the wrong path. But we should never place ourselves in the position of stating a person's fate because we don't know what it will be. While there is breath, there is still hope that a person will change. "Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves" (Jude 8-10).