Hard times really separate good people from bad apples. That rule applies double with Christians, it seems. Lately, naked opportunism plus a complete lack of compassion has brought to light some truly awful apples in a really competitive field! Today, I’ll show you how some of those awful apples plan to use a global pandemic to score themselves some extra Jesus sales.
(Some previous posts about bad apples: The Ballad of the Bad Christians; Good Apples, Bad Apples, and Broccoli; A Field Guide to ‘Bad Christians’; The Mighty Clean Cup; Hypocrisy: A Feature, Not a Bug.)
The Jesus (Sales)People.
When Christians seek new recruits for their various groups, they utilize sales techniques to do it. In a very real sense, they are salespeople. In that capacity, they seek customers who can be persuaded — or bullied — into purchasing their product.
Now, that product is not Jesus himself.
Heck, it’s not even belief in Jesus.
Belief in Jesus represents only the first part of a successful sale. These salespeople actually want to sign people up to become fervent and obedient members of their particular groups.
These salespeople very creepily call themselves soulwinners, because they think they’re “winning” literal “souls” away from Satan, who for some reason really wants people to go to Hell.
The Actual Product Being Sold.
That’s why Christian salespeople don’t consider their efforts successful until their mark has joined their group (or an identical one elsewhere). Very few people in that end of the religion, and probably none of them who feel strongly enough about it to try to sell it to others, believe in being half-saved from Hell.
F’rinstance, back when I was Pentecostal, if one of my marks had bounded up to me beaming about having just joined the Southern Baptists, I’d have been crushed! Really, I would only have redoubled my sales efforts at that point.
Now, getting heathens into the church building exposes them to the Good News (see endnotes for a definition). But they have to sign up for the entire enchilada for the salesperson to earn that next notch on their Bible cover. As Al Mohler makes crystal-clear in a 2006 blog post, professed atheists ain’t welcome to join any of his precious “museums for saints.”
(Yes, I know they prefer calling churches “hospital for sinners.” But if a real hospital had the stats of a “hospital for sinners,” no governments would ever allow them to operate. Also, I wonder if Christianity’s steep decline has led Mohler to re-think his position?)
No Low Is Too Low.
However, a small number Christians — almost all of them involved in various literalist, toxic flavors of the religion — have long operated in a 24/7 mindset of SELL SELL SELL WITHOUT MERCY.
If you’ve ever had the misfortune to be around a multi-level marketing (MLM) drone in Acute Desperation Mode, then you know what a hard-sell Christian soulwinner is like. Their gazes dart like pinballs, seeking out potential marks everywhere they go. Their hands sprout tracts and church flyers as if by magic. And always, always, they wear a familiar forced smile as they grit out opening lines that some evangelist insisted would totally absolutely lead to a “gospel conversation.”
I should have guessed it.
I should have seen it coming.
People who consider a funeral a handy-dandy opportunity to preach fire and brimstone at mourning loved ones will not hesitate to leap on a pandemic to score more sales for their tribe.
An Opportunistic Listicle to Beat All Opportunistic Listicles.
Our first opportunistic Christian salesbot is Brian G. Najapfour. He’s done pretty much everything in fundagelicalism. Currently, he pursues his Ph.D. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the recent past, he pastored a Michigan Reformed church. Given his age and that past, he’s probably fully on board with the most evil variant of Christianity ever devised, Calvinism/Reformed Theology.
He wrote an eager-beaver listicle on March 15 about the pandemic. He titled it “10 Ways in which this Coronavirus Pandemic Can Be for Our Good” [capitalizations his].
Here’s why Najapfour thinks the pandemic is gonna be great for Christians:
- It’ll teach Christians various lessons about their faith that they wouldn’t need to learn if their god existed and was even halfway competent.
- They’ll learn to do the stuff they should have been doing to begin with, like pray a lot.
- Check out these veiled threats of Hell! And these! These too!
- And WHOA NELLY, will this pandemic ever help Christians make sales!
Yes. He writes (emphasis his):
2. It can open a door for us to share the gospel with the unbelievers. With this pandemic, we Christians have a wonderful opportunity to show Christ’s love to others. Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
I’m just aghast.
Yeah, That’s Totally Gonna Work.
If it takes a pandemic for fundagelicals to start acting like they actually take their religion seriously, that’s not actually going to be a selling point for their religion.
Nobody these days looks at Christians following their religion’s many rules and thinks Gosh, it must be Jesus helping them do all that. We’ve seen too many hypocritical Christians to think that. And we’ve seen way too many non-Christians who are decent human beings to think anyone requires Christianity to live such a life.
But that’s not exactly what Najapfour’s talking about.
He doesn’t mean lifestyle evangelism, that bane of fundagelical leaders everywhere. No way would a true-blue Southern Baptist pastor suggest that. It might sound like it, but the bold part gives his dishonest game away.
Share the gospel is very specific Christianese. It doesn’t mean that the flocks should go about their lives doing Jesus-y things in the hopes that their neighbors notice at some point and ask them how on earth they manage it.
No, that phrase means hitting a mark with an explicit demand: do as I say or else my magical invisible wizard friend will hurt you FOREVER after you die.
And this fundagelical writer thinks the pandemic is a marvelous opportunity. Now Christians have access to the worst and biggest threats ever!
Hooray Team Jesus!
Preying Upon Children.
Our next opportunist is Greg Stier. His name might be familiar to longtime readers; he’s popped up around here off and on for years. We covered one of his cringeworthy teen evangelism campaigns, “Dare 2 Share,” a while ago.
Well, he shows up here with a February 3rd post on Christian Post along the same lines. Titled “The coronavirus and evangelism,” it outlines the very best ways to get teens terrified of Hell.
This post offers up a three-point strategy to terrorize children.
First, a trusted adult should tell the children that Jesus “became one of us.” Don’t offer them any objective support for that statement. Just insist that it happened and quote Bible verses at them. They’ll never know the difference.
Second, tell them Jesus died to save them from “death and the Devil.” Of course, kids will never realize that we still have both of those (according to Christianity). Perceptive kids won’t even realize that they sure didn’t ask Jesus to do that, which means they’re not actually obligated to do anything in response. That’s how consent works. But DA YOOT will never realize it.
Third, lie to them. Tell them “Jesus set us free from the fear of death.” Fundagelicals fear death more than anybody. Today’s kids will never notice that fact.
Success! Hooray, the kids are SAVED! Download Greg Stier’s mobile app!
So Much Cringe.
There are so many more of these ridiculous posts. Only one that I saw seemed even halfway non-opportunistic — and it was from Ed Stetzer, of all people.
- Francis Chan advises: “Coronavirus ‘one of our greatest opportunities to reach a lost world’.”
- An evangelism site I’ve never heard of advises: “[. . .] it was a great day for evangelism and outreach before news of Coronavirus hit. It is an even greater day now.” This post easily wins the title of Sleaziest Post of the Day.
- Ed Stetzer, February 28, wrote a confusing exhortation very similar to Najapfour’s. Half of it sounds sorta-kinda like an appeal to Christians to make themselves actually useful to sick people. The other half sounds a lot like a demand that Christians get out there and SELL SELL SELL harder than they ever have before. Given his past work (also this), I suspect he’s paying lip service to the former and really hoping to see the latter happen.
- Ed Stetzer, March 31 and back to his usual mindset: “If our churches are to be effective at gospel work, we need to engage all the men and women that God has given us.” (Still, I bet he totally opposes female pastors!)
It’s truly something to witness all these Christians admitting that they know damned well that they can’t sell their product unless their marks are in a state of panic and operating under great duress.
This ain’t the first time they’ve tacitly admitted their product’s lack of intrinsic appeal (see this post), but it stands out as one of the more dramatic confessions of that point that they’ve made lately.
Christianity Cannot Survive Without Coercion.
For many years, evangelism succeeded despite evangelists’ tactics, not because of them. Christian evangelists have always been absolutely awful salespeople.
However, a lot of things changed abruptly for them in recent years. Christianity’s more optional now than it’s been since the 3rd or 4th century. Evangelism tactics suddenly matter quite a bit.
And Christian soulwinners just cannot adjust to their new normal.
In preying upon frightened, desperate people, they’re only stoking people’s fears to greater and greater heights — while also continuing to make public nuisances of themselves by potentially infecting thousands of people unnecessarily. Their usual predatory tactics now come with a real potential for a body count.
I’m really hoping that the whole world will remember these days and hold Christians accountable when the time comes.
Incel Jesus Needs To Get Off the Potty.
And you know what’s wacky?
Obviously, no omnimax uber-benevolent god is telling these TRUE CHRISTIANS™ to do anything different.
You’d think a truly good god would say something about the greed, dishonesty, opportunism, and rampant hypocrisy Christians display in the name of scoring recruits for his religion. But somehow, this one doesn’t seem concerned at all with the antics of his most dedicated salespeople.
Maybe he’s too busy watching old folks get infected in red states to care what his followers do.
NEXT UP: In tomorrow’s chat post, a lie of omission from some big-name Christian groups reveals quite a bit. See you tomorrow!
The Good News:
The word “gospel” means roughly “the good news.” Here’s a brief summary of it (we’ll go into more detail soon):
- The Mad Blood God of the Desert (MBGD) is an insecure, vicious, utterly incompetent malignant narcissist who demands praise and worship from literally every being in existence for literally everything he does. He cannot accept that humans “fell” specifically because of his ineptitude in designing them and the world they occupied. In fact, he blames the “fall” not on himself, as he should, but on those first two humans.
- MBGD cursed those two humans and every single one of their descendants. Thus, all humans are fated to go to Hell to endure eternal, pointless torture — all because of something that happened eons before their birth that was his own fault in the first place.
- HOWEVER: MBGD will allow his bloodlust and narcissistic rage to be slaked if and only if humans go through a set of motions designed to absolve him of his proper guilt in causing their “fall.”
- MBGD is so incompetent he can’t even provide solid evidence that he exists, much less that those motions are actually necessary, much less that Heaven and Hell exist, much less that there’s even any kind of meaningful life after death for humans. In fact, all available credible evidence points to “no” in all of these questions. All the same, once you’ve heard “the good news,” then you instantly become responsible for obeying it.
- You might be damned anyway, even if you haven’t ever heard “the good news.” The Mad Blood God of the Desert is so incompetent and self-contradictory that nobody actually knows either way what he actually wants. Every one of his followers is just guessing, and for every guess there’s a counter-guess of equal validity and strength.
Ain’t that THE BESTEST news you ever heard?
TL;DR: Nice soul you have there… Be a real shame if anything, uh, HAPPENED to it, wouldn’t it? (Back to the post!)
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