That’s the question preoccupying my mind when I read of Pastor Tom Mannin’s blog response to the news that the Oklahoma City Council approved the use of one of the rooms in its Civic Center – where his church, the Oklahoma City Community Church, holds Sunday services – to the New York City satanist group Dakhma of Angra Mainyu for them to hold a ‘black mass’ on Sunday, 21 September.
A couple qualifications before I go on. One, I fully understand that the Civic Center is a public building and as such the city council can rent to whomever they wish. I also understand that had they refused the satanists, they would have been hard-pressed to explain why it was okay for one religious group to use it and not another. I also understand that, from what I read, the satanists and the church will not be using the same room within the facility.
Having said that, however (you knew this was coming) …
This satanist group is coming from New York City to hold their ‘mass’ in Oklahoma City on a Sunday, likely while the church is holding their service. If you think this sounds like a set-up to a confrontation, I don’t think you’re too far off-base, particularly when you throw in Mr. Mannin’s words from his blog post (via the article):
"As a church, we want to respond as people of love, who are consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the ways he responded to those who rejected him and even hated him," Mannin wrote.This entire clip just screams (at least to me) that Mr. Mannin is expecting a confrontation, and that he’s expecting it to come from the satanists, and that he’s preparing his people not to retaliate in kind.
"So we will speak gracefully and peacefully of the people at the black mass gathering. We will pray for God's love to abound in our city and among it's people of varying belief."
Mannin drew upon Matthew 5:38-42, where Jesus tells His disciples that they should "turn to them the other cheek" when it comes to those who hate and attack them.
"This passage is teaching us that we can't respond to evil with evil. When someone hates and is then hated back, it will be easy for them to continue to hate," Mannin continued.
"When someone hates and is then loved, it becomes more difficult for them to continue to hate. Jesus is painting a picture that steps beyond the laws of justice and into the transformation of our hearts."
But what bothers me to death is that this clip also screams at me that Mr. Mannin is planning on ‘soft-loving’ the satanists, rather than ‘hard-loving’ them.
What do I mean by ‘soft-love’? The kind of ‘love’ we see coming from all-too-many Christians and Christian leaders today – the kind of ‘love’ that dilutes the Truth of God, the Truth of Jesus Christ, the Truth of the Holy Spirit … and the truth of the devil – that he is the ‘father of lies’.
In John, chapter 8, verse 44, Jesus confronts the Jewish religious leaders and flat-out calls them sons of Satan. Why? Because they engaged in devil-worship? Of course not: they worshiped God, albeit incorrectly, and refused to believe that Jesus was who He said He was.
Jesus called these faulty God-worshipers ‘sons of Satan’; how much more would He call actual Satan-worshipers ‘sons of Satan’?
If you watch Jesus and His apostles, you notice they had, basically, a two-step approach to ‘evangelism’ – confronting the wrong, then offering the solution to that wrong. In our time, we have a real problem with stage one: most people are incapable, unwilling, or both, to confront sinful behaviors as Jesus and His apostles did. We are, for the most part, biblically illiterate, due to our own lack of effort or our dependence upon teachers who are, in their own right, biblically illiterate; we are incapable, as Peter calls us to do, be able to make a defense of our beliefs (1 Peter 3:15). And if we’re incapable of mounting a defense of our beliefs, we won’t be willing to try, at least not after our first attempt; add to this our fear of being called hateful, intolerant, bigoted, small-minded, and other things and we pretty much clam up.
This is bad, okay? This is bad because if we’re incapable or unwilling to confront the evils that we and others do, what good is offering the solution of Jesus Christ? If people are unaware that they are sinful, they won’t be accepting that they need a Savior, right?
This is my fear: that there will be a confrontation on the seventeenth of September at the Oklahoma City Civic Center between the satanists and the Christians, and that the Christians will be ill-equipped to deal with it because they’ve been taught nothing but ‘soft love’.
I pray to God I’m wrong.