Sept. 18 marked one of the first days that Cal State Fullerton had a very unique visitor. His name: Unknown. His message: Unclear.
“For the wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” read his sign, a direct quote of Romans 6:23.
Many street preachers come to CSUF with a mission of showing people something deep and desperate within his or her heart. And often, instead of listening to the message, students ridicule and gawk at them.
The man’s message was lost in the crowd. Not because of his fiery words of hell and damnation, but because of a close-minded audience.
They didn’t see the latter half of the Romans passage, didn’t hear the true message of the man: Salvation.
When these kind of visitors grace the quad spaces of our campus, all bystanders see is the judgemental, allegedly hypocritical facade of Christianity. Whereas the true message of the Gospel is one of generosity, sincerity, and transparency.
History remembers only the extremes.
That was one of philosopher Thomas Kuhn’s arguments about scientific revolutions: That the paradigm shift in evolving scientific ideas were predominantly found in the nuances of the moment-by-moment discoveries that challenged each paradigm.
But history only remembers the extremes.
Kuhn argued that it is the major paradigm shifts that are remembered in science, the only ones that make it into the history books.
In the same way, people have only remembered the infamous parts of Christian history: The Crusades, the Inquisition and, in modern times, the extreme Ku Klux Klan and Westboro Baptist Church groups.
Instead of seeing Jesus, the man who sacrificed himself for everyone in a very utilitarian way, a lot of students see the misuse of of His name.
Whether or not the man in the Quad on the afternoon of Sept. 18 was preaching fire and brimstone, he was attempting to share a truth he felt was too great to contain.
And that message is what should be highlighted. Not in a condemning or coercive way, but from the approach of what the message actually is.
The message of the Gospel is simple. God (assuming His existence) created humanity. Being the Creator, He wanted humanity to choose to love Him instead of forcing them to love Him. That way, the relationship would be real instead of robotic and forced.
But humanity, when given the choice, does not always choose God. Even though He promises peace, prosperity and true joy that surpasses the everyday pain and falseness of happiness; a lasting sense of “it’s going to be OK.”
And so God had to do something dramatic, something so inconceivable, that people today still do not believe. He came Himself in the form of Jesus Christ to show us. Not to tell us, but to show us that we can reconnect with God and experience the wonderful consequences that follow.
Yet, all that is perceived is an old man telling everyone that they’re going to hell and that they’re not good enough.
Finally, the true message that is being conveyed, although muddied by opening statements, is lost. Jesus’ message of true self-actualization is neglected. His sacrifice demeaned.
While everyone laughs.
Tim Worden also contributed to this report.