benyola.net

A conversation with Richard Pratt

BENYOLA: Why do you think?

PRATT: Oh, it’s pretty obvious why. We may think that we are too sophisticated for such things. We may think that the methods of cults are foolish. But I believe that by and large it is because we’re not enthusiastic. We don’t have the level of advocacy they do. There are exceptions — but most Evangelical Christians are not willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary. We don’t encourage our young people, for example, to take a gap year out of their university experience to devote themselves to a year-long mission effort. We would think it to be too dangerous to send our young men and young women out on bicycles through neighborhoods to talk with people about their faith. We would consider it irresponsible to do that. And because we prize our safety and our comfort so much, we do not encourage our young people to do that in large numbers.

Now, in my own Presbyterian denomination, we have some opportunities for young people to do that. We have opportunities for retirees as well. Even for career people. But it’s not something that is so highlighted and so valued that it is expected that people will do it.

BENYOLA: So where do they derive the zeal that we lack, and why do we lack that zeal?

PRATT: It’s a human phenomenon, of course, in some respects. But we believe that cults are under satanic influence. So they get their zeal from their devotion to the cause of Satan in this world. Why don’t we have enthusiasm? I think it’s largely because our leaders do not emphasize it and do not stress it. If our pastors would stress this in their sermonizing and if our leaders would be examples of this kind of devotion, then we would see it happening more.

There is a misconception, I think, that pervades most Evangelical groups. We believe that in the United States of America or in Western culture at large people understand the Gospel. But the reality is that in our day, most people are so far from the Christian faith that the word “gospel” only means a genre of religious music to them. They don’t know what the word gospel means. They don’t know why Jesus came to the earth. In large numbers, they don’t even know these basic things. And there’s only one reason why they don’t know this. It’s because we’re not telling them.

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