You might have noticed the theme for the past couple days has been false teaching here at Steak and a Bible. I’d like to focus today on consequences. There are serious consequences for false teaching: judgment from God upon false teachers and also the real possibility of people remaining in their sins and unbelief because they have not heard the true gospel and been converted. The price for false teaching is high.
I was reading Alternet the other day, which I don’t recommend for anyone trying to maintain their sanity. But while I was there I found Lala Stone’s sad story, “How I Went from Being a Southern Baptist Preacher’s Daughter to an Open Atheist.”
Her account reminded me that false teaching drives many people away from Jesus. Obviously I don’t know any more than her own account of what theology she was taught, but the way she tells it it was a real fire and brimstone kind of church. She was so terrified of hell (and since she had also been taught that children are innocent and will not go to hell) that she tried to kill herself at age 11.
This is awful. It breaks my heart that she was taught Christianity in such a warped manner that she thought that was necessary.
The Bible teaches that hell is real and will be the eternal destination of those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, but if all she ever heard was hell used to scare people to Jesus the church had it wrong. What Stone and the rest of the congregation needed to hear was that they were all sinners who deserved hell, but the good news is that Jesus Christ died for those sins: past, present and future. That he could save them from their sins. Where was the gospel?
Like many atheists Stone claims Christianity is merely a “blind faith” and that people in one church she attended couldn’t explain why God sends people to hell. Biblical illiteracy strikes again.
I bring up Stone’s story because it is a painful reminder of the real consequences of failing to share the true gospel. Christians must explain both God’s law which finds us guilty, and God’s incredible mercy and grace displayed by Jesus’ death and resurrection — offered to us through substitutionary atonement. Telling just the bad news, true as it is, is a recipe for despair, biblical revisionism (as in the case of Jay Bakker and others) and future atheism and agnosticism.