SKEPTIC: So what do you think about this video?
PREACHER: Although the title is rather juvenile, the content is a good parody of what (unfortunately) a lot of so-called evangelism is. I would recommend all classes on evangelism at Bible schools and seminaries see this video. I have been evangelized by some cult groups in the same manner. The two big mistakes that the evangelists made were 1) they assumed the guy they were visiting had the same world view as they did, and used circular reasoning to try to convince him of something that he didn't believe in, and 2) they cut off further contact with him, seeing him as a terrible evil person, making him no longer worth talking to, and I suppose he didn't want to talk to them again either.
When reaching someone of a different world view, you need to first develop a trusting relationship with them. Then, you need to help them to realize that their world view is really wrong. After that you can talk to them about "Hank."
SKEPTIC: Well, okay, I guess if you want to use the video to show someone how NOT to evangelize, you could do that. But I don't think that was the intent of the producer. I think the video was designed to comically show how silly religion is by placing all the major elements of the Christian belief system into a different context. Listening to John and Mary trying to convince the guy of their beliefs, the viewer thinks...geez, that's ridiculous. But everything they say has a direct parallel in Christianity. So how come it sounds so silly when they say it, but makes perfect sense to many people when it describes the Christian belief system?
PREACHER: I understand the intent of the producer, however the parallels to Christianity are quite outlandish. "Hank" isn't a real person in history (Jesus Christ is: check the sites on my blog roll) and the rule about not eating you hot dogs with anything but buns (isn't that an allusion to sexual variations?) really would be completely unintelligible to anyone outside the American culture. I could go on and on about the crazy parallels. What the video does a good job of conveying is what I think the apostle Paul alluded to: The Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. If your world view is completely foreign to what the Bible assumes it IS silly to you. The average Japanese, if confronted with Jesus' death on the cross, finds the message meaningless. They say, "I never asked him to do that for me, so why should I pay attention to that?" You have to lay down the ground work that 1) God is the creator and owner of the universe which includes us humans, 2) Our first ancestors rebelled against God and we are all born with that unnatural bent. So, except for the grace of God working in me to work against that bent and get back in line with His purposes, I and all humanity are bound for His judgment (in other words, discarded since we won't cooperate with Him - we were given free wills to choose, though, by trusting Him) 3) Jesus died on the cross to satisfy God's requirements for us so that if we accept Him, we can pass from eternal judgment into eternal life. And, He rose from the dead to prove He did it. This message is the fragrance of life to those of us who believe, but the stench of death to those who will not believe. You've got to start with the right "reality" in order to understand and appreciate the message. Otherwise, it does sound just as silly as Hank's Ass.
SKEPTIC: Sorry, I don't smell the "stench of death." I experience the "fragrance of life" just as much as you do. I could argue that I experience it even more, since I accept that this life is all there is and so am determined to make the most of it, while you view it as just a way station to the next life, and so everything you do is focused on the next life. I can see how this can cause many Christians to be way too stressed out about life, always worried that they're going to screw up and offend the Almighty and perhaps even risk their eternal soul. When you don't buy into this ancient belief system, though, you're free to live your life joyfully, without the stress that those with rigid belief systems can suffer.
I think you're right about the whole wieners and buns thing, though. Hank says that for two wieners to lay down together is an abomination.
PREACHER: How can you say that you experience the fragrance of life just as much as a Christian does? Your wonderful life lasts for 70 to 80 years. Our lives last for eternity. I don't think that you will feel so joyful about your life when you have been told that you have only a few weeks to live, like my friend with pancreatic cancer who lives in Des Moines IA. He has peace about it. I really doubt that your deathbed scene will be that optimistic, unless you decide to become a believer again. There have been some polls taken that have suggested that religious people are better adjusted and happier than non-religious people. I think you paint a picture of Christians struggling with sin that is gloomier than it really is. We Christians know the joy of being set free from sin and death. Non-believers joy is based on the on the concept of "What you don't know won't hurt you," or "ignorance is bliss."
SKEPTIC: Seriously? You think your life has more value and meaning because you've chosen to believe that after you die you'll spend eternity in some sort of Disneyland in the sky, and since I've chosen to NOT believe that particular fantasy, I can't experience the "fragrance of life" as much as you? And furthermore, I can't possibly be at peace with my own death unless I adopt this particular belief for myself?
Seriously? That doesn't strike you as just a bit arrogant to make that claim?
PREACHER: It isn't my claim. It is His claim. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep His promises. You just know what you know. Perhaps later I can go into more detail about how the "fragrance of life" He has to offer is both qualitatively and quantitatively infinitely more than what you think you know.
SKEPTIC: Well, it may be "His" claim, but it's also your claim, and it's why so many people are turned off by religion. This idea that by virtue of your belief system, your life has more value than the lives of nonbelievers is not only arrogant, but pretty darn offensive. (Didn't we already cover this ground in a previous post?)
PREACHER: When the apostle Paul called the message of the cross the stench of death, he was refering to it as something offensive to those who don't believe. Some of them thought it offensive enough to persecute him for continuing to proclaim it. If you were more secure in your own belief system, you wouldn't have your nose bent out of shape so badly by the message.