Can Christian Critics Just Give the Asbury Revival, The Chosen, and He Gets Us a Rest?
OPINION — Every time something pops up on the Christian radar, it’s embarrassing and frustrating to see how many Christian critics leap to immediately “expose” it as false—especially on social media. With Asbury chapel services for instance, it’s as if hundreds of armchair theologians feel obligated to fly to Kentucky, and personally report on whether it’s legitimate or fake.
Of course, hundreds more just make their exalted judgment without even seeing it first hand.
As a Christian community, it often seems our default response is “No—this can’t be of God.”
I saw one response on social media:
The “He Gets Us” ads are what happens when people watch The Chosen instead of reading the Bible.
Cute. But really?
When it comes to The Chosen or He Gets Us, these are folks who not only felt the calling to share the gospel through media, but they wrote scripts, raised money, launched massive productions, placed it in the national media—all at great risk. And while millions of people have seen those projects, I’m just wondering how many people the critics have shared Christ with during that time.
Would I have done those projects differently? Absolutely. None of us would tell the same story the same way, and we all relate to God in different ways. But because I disagree with someone else’s approach to sharing the gospel, that doesn’t necessarily make their approach false.
I keep thinking about the time when the Apostles were on trial in Acts 5:
A Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice.
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My friend Ed Stetzer posted this last week about Asbury:
I’ve preached at @AsburyUniv in that very chapel. I’ve lectured to their amazing students and met with their thoughtful faculty. They are going to be OK without all of your opinions about this moment.
Let them be.
And let the Spirit do His work.
And leave the results to God.
I’ve spoken in that same chapel as well, and while we obviously need to be discerning and wise, and search the scriptures, how did we get so many self-appointed theology cops who are convinced the rest of us are breathlessly waiting for their opinion?
Guess what? We’re not.
Give them a break. As Ed says, “Let the Spirit do His Work, and leave the results up to God.”
And as Gamaliel said, “If this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
Share the gospel. In the process we’ll make mistakes, do wrong things, interpret scripture differently. But either share it, or lighten up on those who do.
I’m with Ed and Gamaliel.
This op-ed was originally published at philcooke.com. It is reprinted with permission.