A speaker at a Southern Baptist youth convention named Paul Washer has stirred up a bunch of controversy by giving a tough message at a youth convention. Here are some thoughts about that message:
- Paul Washer’s basic point that Salvation is accompanied by holiness and a real pursuit of God was correct, and a lot of people need to hear that message and can be born again because of it.
- He actually preached from the heart and with conviction,which unfortunately seems to be fairly rare.
His Criticism of the “American Church” was unbalanced.
- Paul Washer alling us the most godless nation on the face of the Earth. This is ludicrous statement, and I find it spiritually to be somewhat like insulting your own father.
- Some of his general attacks again “American Christianity” might better fit his Southern Baptist context than the entire church in America.
He showed signs of self-importance.
- Boasting about leaving home at 18 to be a missionary.
- Saying they could be his children. A weird statement from someone so young.
- Rebuking the crowd for applauding in agreement.
- Seeming to relish that he wouldn’t be invited back.
Paul talk about God “hating” was a misrepresentation of God. God doesn’t love so much that he “hates” and he doesn’t hate unbelievers. When we say that God “hates” sin, I believe that’s a secondary statement. The Love of God within me causes a righteous hatred of sin because it hurts people, not just some flaming “out to get you” kind of a thing.
A message like this will cause some people to really get saved. It will cause some other people who are frustrated with the church and have a similar spirit to be pleased, and it will cause some people who are struggling to be condemned, and these will be the uncounted fruit of messages like this. Paul’s explicit statement that it is not his job to tell people that they are saved is very telling of that fact. Since he spent most of his message telling people they were not saved, to turnaround and say it’s not his job to give people confidence of salvation is borderline mean. Of course at a certain level both are only the job of the Holy Spirit, but the pastor plays a huge role in helping people to accurately discern that.
If the thrust of Paul Washer’s message that holiness accompanies real salvation were put into a different package, I would wholeheartedly agree. As it is, I definitely wouldn’t want to be around preaching like this, and I find it evidence for the need of the Holy Spirit.