So, I've read through this critique of the WOTM by Jesse Johnson on the Cripplegate blog, I've read the response from Ray Comfort and John MacArthur as well. I thought I'd go ahead and listen to the whole thing in it's entirety at the Shepherd's Conference website, and came up with a few objections of my own to this critique.
I want to pick this up where Jesse starts giving specifics of what he sees as a problem with using the Ten Commandments in evangelism. He goes through a few of them.
The Fourth Commandment, not breaking the Sabbath. Jesse asks if this is a Saturday or a Sunday. Well, the Sabbath has not changed, it's always been Saturday. Yet, the early Christians started meeting on the first day of the week instead, because that is when Christ rose from the dead. The Sabbath is no longer limited to a specific day, it has been fulfilled in Christ, so pick a day, who cares? But to think that you shouldn't give God thanks for all that He's given us, one day out of seven, seems a bit selfish, doesn't it? I think the WOTM makes the most sense of anyone of how the Sabbath Commandment applies to us today.
Then he goes into the Second Commandment, saying that it was only given to the Jewish people, making images like the golden calf. But then he cites the NT, saying that we are commanded to keep ourselves from idols, and says that the human heart is an "idol making factory." Yet, he thinks this is somehow "apart from the Second Commandment." How do you figure? He goes on attempting to make sense of how the two are not related, but it never does.
"Do you understand what I'm saying?"
No. No, I don't, not at all.
The Third Commandment - taking the Lord's name in vain. Jesse says it's not when you hit your thumb with a hammer and curse with God's name. He states that it's only something a believer can violate. He seems to liken it more to hypocrisy than anything else, saying that when we lift up the name of the Lord and claim to be followers, yet live an empty life. Again, it makes no sense at all in the plain reading of the text. You shall not use the Lord's name in vain, using it irreverently, as a curse word. I'm gonna have to side with WOTM on this one again, because that's what actually makes sense without jumping through hoops and twisting Scripture to make it mean something else. It's really quite plain and simple. And again, he states that it was given specifically to Israel, yet goes on to say that it applies to us today. Make up your mind.
The Ninth Commandment - Jesse claims it's not about lying, but bearing false witness against your neighbor, and of course, with a specific context of Israel settling disputes within their camp. Seriously? Come on, lying is lying, and it's included in the Ninth Commandment. He says that we should use 1 Cor 6 and Rev 21 with people (and he claims those do not come from the Ten Commandments). Well, guess what? We do use them. So much so that I know which verses he's talking about without looking them up. 1 Cor 6:9-10 lists five of the Commandments and Rev 21:8 brings two more in it's list. I often use these in connection with the Ten Commandments when witnessing.
He claims that the way certain passages are used are very troublesome to him, saying that Rom 3:19 is referring to Psalms and Isaiah, not the Commandments, and that it only applies to Israel as referenced in "those under the law."
But the passage goes on to say "...every mouth may be stopped and the whole world..."
Now, no one has ever said that the Law is confined to only the Ten Commandments, but the Ten Commandments are all of the moral law in outline form, so why not use them as such?
Again, he seems to be nitpicking, agreeing with the basic concept, yet attempting to undermine it at every turn. Why?
He says there is an over emphasis on the Law verses the Holy Spirit. Can't the Holy Spirit work using the Law? The Law is based on the very nature of God. The Law is used to condemn, the Spirit gives understanding.
I really don't understand what Jesse Johnson is saying. His arguments are reaching, as if he simply doesn't like it, but he defeats himself on every issue by explaining how it is biblical and necessary. It seems to me that Jesse is attempting to please people who have a problem with this type of evangelism, and even though he cannot truly make an argument against it biblically. He makes an attempt in order to keep people happy who don't like it.
Jesse said that the most troubling aspect of the WOTM in evangelism is that it teaches that people are going to hell for violating the Law rather than for rejecting Jesus Christ.
Doesn't that make more sense? I have had unbelievers come up and argue that God is not just, because He has given us all free will and just because we don't believe in Jesus, we will go to hell.
In his mind, this unbeliever saw God as some sort of bipolar dictator, giving people freedom on one hand, while condemning them to eternal hell on the other, because they didn't believe in something without being given any proof or evidence at all.
So, I explained to this guy that he isn't going to hell for not believing in Jesus. He's going to hell because he has broken God's Law, which is written on his heart and testified to by his conscience. He is guilty and actually deserves to be punished, just as any guilty criminal does. This explains God's justice and stops his mouth, just like Scripture says, when I take them through the 9th, 8th, 3rd and 7th Commandments.
Then I can tell him about the love and mercy of God in providing a way to keep him out of the eternal hell that he deserves while still remaining just. And He does this by coming down Himself in human flesh, keeping all of the Law that we couldn't keep, and then laying down His life as a sacrifice for us, paying the fine that we owe. So, although repentance and trust in Jesus Christ can prevent him from going to hell, rejecting that is not the primary reason he will go there in the first place.
I can't even tell you how many people have said this makes more sense than any explanation they have ever heard of the Gospel before.
"One size fits all approach to evangelism"? Law to the proud, grace to the humble. That's what the Bible says, I don't see any reason to try to change it now.
In the end, I wonder how Jesse teaches people to evangelize? How is he equipping the saints? And do any of them feel equipped enough to go and do it on a regular basis? Or do they feel overwhelmed, like they don't know enough, and find themselves quite comfortable to sit at home because they don't have the "gift of evangelism"?
Soli Deo Gloria