Philippe, The Postmodern Evangelist

Posted: January 23, 2011 in apostasy, christian living
Tags: , ,

by Krista Graham, Special to The Sacred Sandwich

Once there was a man named Philippe. He was a spiritual guide in an emerging community. One day he decided to go on a journey. So, he did. As he was walking along the road, focusing on the journey and not the destination, he found himself alongside the chariot of an African official. The man in the chariot was reading from a parchment scroll. He was reading aloud, so Philippe was able to overhear what the man read.

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before the shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”

Philippe caught up to the chariot and said, “You read that text beautifully. It made me feel significant and connected to ancient traditions to hear you read it.”

“I just wish I could understand it,” the man replied.

“Understand it? You don’t need to understand it. Just to experience it. Read it again, more slowly this time. I want to hear the poetic forms and imagine myself in the context of the ancient tradition,” said Philippe.

“Who is he talking about?” the man persisted. “Is the prophet writing about himself or about someone else?”

“I think he is writing about all of us,” said Philippe. “I think we are all a part of the larger story.”

“But what story?” asked the official. “It seems to me that the writer is talking about something in particular, and I sense that it is important. I just wish I knew what it was. What exactly does this mean?”

“What do YOU think it means?” asked Philippe.

“I don’t know. That is why I am asking YOU.”

“Well, it is true that I am a Christ-follower, and my tradition does impose certain meanings on this text. But I would not want to force my truth claims on you. Your truth claims would be equally valid. As you see, we are both on a journey; and we both find ourselves on the same road. So, it follows that our destination is also the same. So, let’s just enjoy this time of community and not divide ourselves by discussing meanings and dogma,” said Philippe.

After awhile, they came to a pool of water by the side of the road. There was also a fork in the road at this point, and the official chose the road to the right. Philippe planned to take the road to the left, but first he sat down by the edge of the pool to journal his experiences of the day. He was delighted that he had had an unique opportunity to engage in a dialogue with a person of a culture so diverse from his own.

Meanwhile, the African official went on his way, still searching for the meaning of the text that could have brought him eternal life.

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Comments
  1. ketch22 says:

    This is good… I am sick of the make-believer evangelist who proclaims individualized roads to salvation. Either Jesus is the way and what He said is true… or we can’t trust anything written at all in Scripture… you can’t have it both ways. This is Universalism and Unitarianism at its finest… luckily the true evangalistic movement recognizes this and rebukes lukewarm Christianity… thanks for posting.

  2. Sean Scott says:

    Don’t forget the second chapter of Philippe the evangelist. In the second chapter we continue to find Philippe the evangelist walking down his road on his journey to nowhere. He really wants to help the poor. He doesn’t want to lead the poor to any place specifically he just wants to help him. As he’s walking down the road he runs into a Catholic who is worshiping Mary and praying the Rosary for wold peace. They both talk about their journey and decided to work together to help the poor. As they continue down the road they see a Muslim and a Hindu. The Muslims is praying to Allah and the Hindu is praying to one of the thousands of God’s they worship. They too would like to help the poor as they are on a journey as well. They all decided to work hand in hand for a common goal. Philippe the evangelist reasons in himself that it’s best to leave his exclusive “only way” message about salvation out of the equation as it will only complicate his working together with people of other faiths. He reasons that helping the poor is the ultimate goal and that how you do it or what you “don’t” say really doesn’t matter. He realizes that if he is faithful to preach his “only way” message of salvation while he helps the poor that these other believers from other faiths might not want to help him achieve his goal. They will no longer walk with him on his journey nor give their money in support to help him. Philippe realizes that it’s best to leave aside his message that can save the poor mans soul so that he might instead help them temporarily ease their hunger pain. He finally comes to his senses and realizes that what is “temporary” matters more than what is “eternal”. This makes Philippe feel so much better. That exclusive message he once preached made it difficult to do his job. It was such a relief for Philippe to take that heavy cross off his shoulders. Philippe rejoiced in his new found revelation and decided to start a non-profit called one.org. Philippe and his new friends all joined hand in hand and continued down the broad road happily helping the poor as they continued on their journey to hell.

    • ketch22 says:

      Don’t forget the side chapter of Philippe’s old friend, Leroy… another evangelist. In this chapter we find Leroy walking down his road on his journey with Christ. He really wants to help the poor, needy, widows, and orphans because this is real, true religion. He wants to feed the poor while proclaiming Christ, because temporary help is nothing without eternal help. As he is walking down the road he runs into a Catholic who is worshipping Jesus via Mary and praying the Rosary for world peace. Now Leroy knows that you don’t pray to Jesus via Mary and this is very problematic… however, he recognizes the man’s love for Christ and they both talk about their journey and decided to work together to help the poor with Christ at the center. Leroy realizes that he can use their commonality to help this Catholic have a true relationship with Christ instead of a misguided relationship with tradition and false practices.

      As they continue down the road they see a Muslim and a Hindu. The Muslim is praying to Allah toward the east and the Hindu is praying to one of the thousands of god’s he worships. They too would like to help the poor as they are on a journey as well. Leroy realizes that the Gospel isn’t just for Christians, so he decides to allow them on this journey to help the poor because he realizes that God can and will use him as a light in the darkness that is their religion.

      Leroy the evangelist reasons in himself that it is best to stick to “Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life”, but he will be tactful on how he presents this to these idolaters because defenses will be built up if there is no common ground. He realizes that if he is faithful to preach Christ’s “only way” message of salvation while he helps the poor that these other non-believers might not want to help him achieve his goal… but, maybe, just maybe… one of them might retain the seed that is planted and allow God to nourish it through actions, love, truth, and the Word… because we all know that God can do anything through anybody. This will also allow the Good News to envelop the poor that would have otherwise only had the non-believing and false-believing people in their midst had Leroy decided not to join in with them as well. This new organization grew to help millions of those in need… all the while the growth of Christians within this organization grew as well, spurred by the initial response from Leroy… bringing the lost to Christ one poor person at a time.

      The original story of Phillipe leaves God out of the equation and surmises that God cannot reach Muslims, Hindus, and Catholics in a secular organization through Christian perserverence.

      • Sean Scott says:

        The Hindu has just had a very interesting conversation with Leroy the evangelist. They were both feeding the poor, side by side, in part with a secular organization. Leroy and the Hindu were helping the poor and Leroy told the Hindu about Christ. The Hindu was a very religious man. In is faith journey he had in fact read many religious books. He had read the Veda’s which he follows. However, he had already read the bible and the quran. As Leroy was speaking to him all of the sudden he remembered a verse that he had read in the bible before. It was a verse that trouble the Hindu when he read it but he couldn’t deny that it was there. It said:

        “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

        The Hindu knew that the Christian God did not approve of idol worship. He also knew that the Christian God commanded that he should repent and turn to Him. He knew that him, being a Hindu, was considered an unbeliever and an infidel. And he also knew that the scriptures forbid this Christian from partnering up with him for what would be considered ministry. This really puzzled the Hindu man. He wondered why this follower of Jesus would disobey the Lord he claimed to follow. You see, the Hindu thought that if you claimed to be part of a religion that it meant you followed the teachings of that religion. The Hindu man knew that he could not just make up which Veda’s he wanted to follow…no being a Hindu meant that he had to follow the Veda’s as they were written. But, at this point in the Hindu’s life he had become accustom to Christians who claimed to follow their God but did not do what He said. The Hindu wondered why he should believe in a God who had such lousy followers. Should he leave being a faithful Hindu to follow a group of people who don’t follow the God they believe in? The Hindu was not convinced that this was the right path. Aside from this the Hindu realized another important fact. You see, the Hindu and the Christian were both working together in a secular organization. Being a secular organization meant that all could participate but they had to leave their “only way” message at the door. The only way this type of organization would work is if they all just focused on their common ground. This would mean that the Christian would not be able to faithfully share the gospel message of “Christ the only way” without violating their rules and causing division in the organization. But the Hindu realized that division was also something Jesus talked about. He remembered that Jesus had one time said “I have not come to bring peace but a sword”. The Hindu knew that the only way the Christian could participate in the secular outreach was for him to compromise his beliefs and, disobey the organizations rules, and not preach that Christ is the only way and the God commands all men everywhere to repent. The Hindu was puzzled at why a Christian would join a secular organization knowing these things.

        After working with Leroy the evangelist the Hindu man grabbed his things and walked home after a longs days work. On the way home he lifted up his eyes to heaven. Looking up he prayed to the Christian God: “If you are real, could you please send me one of your followers who obeys what you say? I’m not saying they are not out there but if they are could you please send one my way? All I’ve seen are those who claim your name but compromise your word so that they might “reach” me. I’d really like to meet one who puts you first, doesn’t worry about offending me, and lives and teaches the truth even if it means we can’t do ministry together. It might help me understand what this Jesus was really like”. Thank you…

      • ketch22 says:

        Sean… thank you for your rebuttal. I actually did not think about the yoke issue… but have been thinking about “friendship evangelism” as of late. Because of your post, and some Bible study last night and this morning… I believe I am wrong. We should not go into business with non-believers. It is inevitable that we work with non-believers in a secular workplace, but to support a secular “ministry” by putting my name on it is wrong. Thank you for your kind comment.

      • ketch22 says:

        Sean… thank you for your rebuttal. I actually did not think about the yoke issue… but have been thinking about “friendship evangelism” as of late. Because of your post, and some Bible study last night and this morning… I believe I am wrong. We should not go into business with non-believers. It is inevitable that we work with non-believers in a secular workplace, but to support a secular “ministry” by putting my name on it is wrong. I was thinking that Jesus hung out with sinners… the sick… the lost… we should too… but He did not join in with them in their causes. Thank you for your kind comment.

  3. Sean Scott says:

    ….stay tuned to read further chapters of Philippe the evangelist as we continue to follow him on his spiritual journey….

  4. Sean Scott says:

    Hi Ketch,

    No problem. I’m glad you’re studying it. I guess the reason I have sort of a “zeal” towards theses type of issue (besides because of what the word says) is because I used to belong to a fellowship that thought along those lines. It was a fellowship that started out fairly good but began to embrace emergent teaching bit by bit. It began with them wanting to find new ways to relate to and reach the lost but it ended up poisoning the church. The end results were disastrous. Most people don’t realize that when they deviate from scripture in what some may consider small areas that they eventually lead to huge errors that are detrimental to the body of Christ. A plane may veer just a few degrees off course but after hours and hours of flying the plane finds out that they are no longer a few degrees of course but they are miles off course. Usually by then it’s too late.

    Right now I’m discussing with another brother the passage out of Acts 17 and Paul’s reference to the Unknown God. This is another one of those passages that emergent teachers, who focus on an unbiblical form of relational evangelism, use to justify what they do. The only thing is they don’t realize that the passage actually teaches the exact opposite of what they say it does.

    If I may ask, what have you been thinking about lately as it relates to relational evangelism?

    • ketch22 says:

      I have actually been practicing relational evangelism… hanging out with non-believers while maintaining my integrity and boundaries. I have been focusing on Jesus and His dining with sinners. Now I am conflicting that with the yoke passage and I must say it is confusing.

      • Sean says:

        Well..there’s nothing wrong with relational evangelism. It should be part of what every believer does. I think it would be right to define or show examples of what relational evangelism is and isn’t. First, I don’t see any scriptural examples or precedence for just hanging out with non-believers and just trying to be a good person and hope that they see your light. For example…some people will hang out with non-believers and not engage in their worldly conversation but they also won’t say anything against it or really mention Jesus. They hope that by their mearly abstaining from worldly conversation and the fact that the people might know they are a Christian will be enough to influence them towards Christ. I don’t see this type of relational evangelism in scripture at all. I would call that being ashamed of Christ or maybe more of fearing rejection. I would call it being overly sensitive to the feelings of sinners (to their detriment) and under concerned with God’s feelings on the matter. I’m not saying this is what you are doing, I don’t know, but I know how this type of relational evangelism really plays out. Usually it’s all relationship and no evangelism. I know that is the focus of much of today’s relational evangelism but again there is no scriptural example of this. And to be frank I think it can be quite dishonest.

        You mentioned Jesus dining with sinners. That is always a scripture that is brought up when this topic comes up. Let’s look at the most common verse used to say that we need to be eating with and hanging out with sinners.

        Matthew 9:9-13 – And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

        and

        Mark 2:14-17 – And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. 15 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

        Notice how Jesus came to eat with tax collectors and sinners. THEY came to Him and THEY followed Him. It wasn’t Jesus trying to secretly hang out with sinners in hope that they would see how good He is and ask questions about who He was or what His faith was. Sinners came to eat with Jesus because they heard him preach about the kingdom of God, they heard him declare men’s sins forgiven and they saw the miracles that He was performing. There was no question that this Jesus was someone who was different than everyone else. He talked different (about the kingdom of God) and did miracles that no one else was doing. If you read the account of what Jesus said when he was with sinners it was never about the most recent football games, or the new movie that was out, etc. He always talked about the kingdom of God. He didn’t talk about other things and try to slide in some truth every now and then. Unfortunately that is what passes for much of what is called relational evangelism today. Even with the account of Jesus eating with Zacchaeus in Luke 19 you first find Zacchaeus FIRST trying to see Jesus. He was most likely curious about this man he had probably heard great things about. I would assume from Zacchaeus’s conversion that he probably heard how Jesus forgave people their sins. Regardless of what Zacchaeus knew the meeting ended with Zacchaeus repenting of his sins and him receiving salvation from the Lord. Then Jesus goes right on into explaining more about the kingdom of God (Luke 19:11). Then there is an account in Luke 14 of Christ eating with the Pharisee’s. During this meal Christ heals a man and then uses the rest of his time teaching about the kingdom and rebuking the Pharisee’s. And what about Jesus feeding the 5000 and 4000? Again, these were people that “came” to Jesus to hear him speak and see him do miracles. Again, they came to Jesus. So I don’t know where the modern concept of relational evangelism comes from. The notion that we just “hang out” with sinners and let our light shine and occasionally slide in some truth is not really found in scripture. I’m not saying this is what you are a doing I just know what most people mean when they say relational evangelism and as I said it almost always ends up with more relationship and less evangelism.

        I find that the modern method of relational evangelism to actually be quite dishonest. It’s kinda like trying to sneak Jesus in. You end up just hanging out with people (not really being yourself), enduring what they have to say, trying to show that you care and hope that you can sometime have an open door to share something about Jesus – and definitely not the offensive parts of Jesus because we wouldn’t want to run people away so soon. To me, that doesn’t appear loving at all. It seems dishonest. If you have an agenda just be clear about it. (I know many emergent people who say “we want to love them with no agenda. That’s baloney. You should want to see them saved therefore you have an agenda and it’s a good one. Remember Christ Himself had an agenda when He came). I’d rather have someone be honest with me and share with me their concern about my soul than them form some superficial relationship and beat around the bush so they can not offend me and talk to me about something they say is important. Now, me personally I don’t typically just “hang out” with sinners (but I do spend lots of time with them). Why? Because I don’t participate in the things they like to do. Christ has called me to forsake most of those things. (If I do I’m intentionally sharing Christ and seeking to do so in a way the doesn’t violate the scriptures or my conscience) But I will eat with people who don’t know Christ. When I worked a secular job I went to eat with co-workers all the time. But when I did I would talk about the gospel, my testimony, and their need for Christ. They knew that I cared about their soul enough to share the whole truth of what I believe. Even if they did not believe they most often times respected the sincerity. I’m currently living and preaching in Mexico just south of California. One of the groups I have to give credit to down here is the Jehovah’s Witnesses (and no I don’t believe their doctrine). If you meet a Jehovah’s Witness here you will never have to question their intent. They are there to share with you what they believe and why you need to believe it too. They don’t just come to your house to hang out with you and to be your friend. No..they come so that you might be converted to their faith. They seem serious about what they believe and people realize that. Do you know what the result of their faithfulness is? In a matter of about 6 years they’ve taken a town that had no kingdom halls and planted about 5 kingdom halls with JW’s EVERYWHERE. But this is what you find the disciples of Jesus doing in the bible. They intentionally share the gospel message with people they meet. We should be doing the same.

        As far as the being unequally yoked passage… I don’t think it has reference to to going out to lunch with a co-worker and sharing Christ with them. You are not joining with them for ministry nor are you just hanging out with them. If you’re following the Lord and listening to His Spirit then you’ll know if you’ve crossed the line from trying to preach to them to just hanging out with them and being unequally yoked.

        Also, since we’re on this topic it would only make sense to bring up Acts 17 as well. This is another passage that’s often used to say that we need to relate to the culture and build relationships before we can share the gospel with people. The emergent crowd will tell us how Paul related to the culture by pointing referencing one of the statues and making reference to their worship. They uses this reasoning to say we need to watch worldly movies and listen to worldly music, and other nonsense, so that we know what’s going on in the culture. They feel that if we fill ourselves up with this garbage that we’ll be able to relate better to the people. However, this clearly isn’t what Paul did in Acts 17. In the passage Paul found himself in Athens waiting for Timothy and Silas. He saw the whole city was given over to idolatry so he began disputing an preaching to the Jews in the synagogues and he preached openly in the markets. What did he preach? He preached Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18). He didn’t preach some watered down gospel. Then the people who heard him took Paul to Areopagus to hear more from him. Paul then made reference to an alter he had passed and used it to springboard right into the gospel. He didn’t dive head first into their pagan culture and partake of it so he could relate to the people better. He simply notice an alter that he could use to springboard into the gospel.
        What sort of things did Paul springboard into? He “immediately” preached God created all things, He doesn’t dwell in temples, He is not an idol, He commands men to repent, and He is going to judge the world by a man that He raised from the dead. How’s that for some culturally sensitive relational evangelism topics! (Heck, Paul even came head first against their idolatry! Ever heard of relational evangelism where that is recommended?) Somehow the emergent teachers leave all of what Paul preached out of the equation. They find it too black and white and too offensive. They feel that they know how to love people better than Paul and Jesus and wouldn’t want to turn people away by telling them too much of the truth. Sounds ridiculous but that is what it boils down too. If you’ve never done it you should do a study on the gospel messages found in the book of Acts. Go through each account of where the gospel was preached or shared and see “what” was shared, “how” it was shared” and what was “not” shared. You’ll be surprised to find out how differently people shared back then compared to most of what you see today. Well, those are my thoughts on the matter. Hope that helps some.

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