Late Tuesday night I was studying in the library at St. Johns here in Stillwater. Beth comes in telling me she has something to show me. She takes me to the chapel and shows me that someone has placed a black, glossy note card in the hand of the crucifix at the front of the church above the Tabernacle.
I get a chair and broom handle and remove the card. The card simply says "QUESTIONS? visit: AnsweredHere.com" As you may have guessed, it is a site for a christian group with aggressive theology. The site has lots of fancy graphics that indicate repeatedly that anyone baptized in any way other than the formula they believe in (or not at all) is going to burn in hell.
The location of the crucifix in the church would make it impossible for someone to put the card where they did without some help. In the chapel, there is no mobile piece of furniture large enough to stand on to reach the height of Jesus' hand where He is on the cross. Their only means then of placing the card would have been to stand on the Tabernacle which is at the foot of the crucifix.
The Tabernacle is where, in a Catholic Church, the consecrated Body of Christ is kept secure. This place is very sacred, similar (although not identical) to the Holy of Holies where, for the Jews, God was present in the Temple at Jerusalem. It would follow then, that to use a Tabernacle as a ladder, for any reason, (I feel) is a terribly disrespectful thing.
Do not suppose that this is written because I disagree with the specific theology promoted by this group. Arguing their theology is not my intention. It is their method that bothers me. They were so zealous in spreading their message that they neglected to consider what they were doing. They came in the middle of the night when no one was around, when no one would ask them questions or see their deeds. I might not agree with the all teachings of Countryside Baptist Church, but I don't go into their sanctuary in the middle of the night and leave fliers. I talk to people face to face and take responsibility for what I believe.
Now, I've already spoken to the original distributor of these fliers in Stillwater, and he assured me that he does not condone the kinds of things to which I am referring. However, I shared with him that I felt like he was still partly responsible since it was the extreme message presented by the website that motivated someone to do this, that he had not chosen wisely in his church's chosen method of evangelization. 20,000 fliers given out to a campus with barely as many people with no way of directing their use is irresponsible. I am reminded of times in the New Testament when Paul has to write to various churches to reprimand them for the ways they are spreading Jesus' name. (It is not my intention to compare myself to Paul.)
Evangelization is something I like to do, and so I have a certain respect for those passionate enough to engage in it, however I must insist that there be a level of accountability and respect shown to different beliefs. If we have any hope of ever being unified in Christ, there can be no place for those that pursue their ends in a disrespectful manner.