Thursday, January 3, 2008

Excuses That Will Not Stand The Test

This tract, published by Evangelical Tract Distributors, takes a clever approach to what is basically the same old, tired message. Rather than point out that you need Christ to Save you from HELL, this tract assumes you've already heard and rejected the Good News on the grounds of some flimsy 'excuse'. This tract's job is to point out all of the possible excuses you might make and show you how they will not stand up to God's Judgment.

Like I said, clever approach. If only the follow-through had been equally clever. Like so many tracts before and after it, Excuses makes the critical error of assuming its source material (the Bible) is infallibly correct, and it assumes the reader believes this, too. It does not try to convince people of the error of their excuses with anything other than Biblical 'truths'.

The tract lists as excuses all the people you're not allowed to blame. You can't blame God, Christ, Hypocrites, or even the person who gave you the tract. Furthermore, you can't say you're doing the best you can (because all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags), you can't say you weren't warned (because the tract is itself a warning), you can't say there is plenty of time (because now is the day of salvation, apparently), and you can't say you've kept the law and never sinned (because nobody'll believe that!).

You also can't say you don't believe in Hell, because "two minutes in Hell amid the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth will change your mind." Why two minutes, I wonder? I would have thought a few seconds would do the trick. The tract doesn't say, but it does get points for the "gnashing of teeth" line.

This tract does not list my reason... sorry, excuse for not getting Saved: any religion based on fear of punishment is not worth following. It does say, however, that "the mere fact that you do not believe it does not alter the facts." What facts? This tract offers none. Either you believe the Bible, or you don't. And if you don't, this tract will not convince you.

Sorry, Evangelical Tract Distributors. I know you have a very limited world view, but that's no excuse for a bad tract.

Likely to Convert - 1
Artwork - 2
Ability to Hold Interest - 5
Unintentional Hilarity - 3
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 1

The Grace of God

My wife Violet found this one for me, and it's just freakin' great! It's also another one from Robert E. Surgenor, the guy who brought us the Believe It Or Not tract. Once again, he's published by The Gospel Messenger.

Robert starts out with Romans 3:24, which goes: "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." He ways this quote is "fourteen divinely inspired words" that came "from the very mouth of God Himself." Robert would rather trust those words "than trust my soul on the intellectual and theological ideas of mere men." Why? Because "Heaven and hell lie before all of us and death will put us into one of those abodes - forever!"

And we haven't even got to the good stuff yet. Robert bemoans how people today don't give much thought to eternal damnation, and suggests their upbringing must have been "far different" from his own. "My mother would often warn me that I was a sinner, and if I died with even one sin on my soul, I would plunge into hell forever." Poor kid!

In spite of these "faithful warnings" and "nine close calls with death," Robert says he "wasn't Saved until the age of twenty-three." This information raises more questions about him than it answers. Why, for instance, did it take him so long to convert? And nine close calls with death? What is all that about?

Freaky, freaky stuff!

Robert spends the rest of the tract discussing Romans 3:24, defining the words 'justified' and 'grace'. Oh, and 'freely' too. Turns out it's a really big deal that Jesus freely makes us justified by his grace. Which basically means God forgives us unworthy losers of our sins, even though we don't deserve it, so we don't have to burn in hell forever.

Same old stuff, but boy does Robert's choice of words make this one entertaining. We learn entirely too much about his childhood, and his current state of mind. When God Saved him, he says he was "destitute of good works" and "entirely unworthy of such attention." The guy clearly has self-esteem issues. Makes for an entertaining read, but I wouldn't want to meet the guy.

Or his mother.

Likely to Convert - 3
Artwork - 0
Ability to Hold Interest - 7
Unintentional Hilarity - 6
Level of Disturbing or Offensive Content - 5