Sunday, October 25, 2009

Scaring People into Heaven?

This week our church will once again produce the walk-through drama Judgement House. This nine-scene drama involves watching people make choices and the eternal consequences of those choices. Ultimately, there are only two choices: to reject Jesus Christ or to accept Christ. The drama involves following the individuals into Judgement, hell, and heaven.

Is this a good thing? Some say we are trying to scare people into making a decision. The argument is that those who make decisions are doing so on a purely emotional basis. Is it possible they are correct? Yes, but let's diagnose this argument.

First, any decision for Christ will involve emotion because salvation comes in response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8). Conversion is not simply through mental assent, but through a response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Second, using a drama to depict the reality of life after death is not inconsistent with the teaching methods of Christ. For example, Christ referred to an area known as Ghenna as an illustration of eternal punishment awaiting those who are disobedient (Mark 9:43, Mt. 10:28, et al). Gehenna, or the Valley of Hinnom, was a place outside Jerusalem where garbage was burned. When Christ used this word, which He used 11 times, it immediately resulting in images of the unquenchable fire which burned outside of the city. Since Christ did not shy away from using a graphic image to depict Hell are we wrong in a one-room scene depiction of the torment of hell? I think not. The effectiveness of our Judgment House presentation lies not in a overly-graphic depiction of hell, but rather in depicting the contrasting beauty of heaven. When one compares heaven to hell, one cannot help but desire to be with Christ rather than in pain with Satan for eternity.

Instead of having a "revival" service in which only a few faithful attend, we have found Judgement House to be an effective tool to reach our community. We have baptized several who made a profession of faith at Judgement House. In addition, we hear reports of individuals who have been baptized and joined churches as a result of our presentation. We have also added many new members as a result of this presentation.

In my opinion Judgement House is not about scaring people into heaven, but rather it is presenting people with the reality that choices in this life have consequences for eternity. Therefore, the best choice is to choose Christ.

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