Thugs or Hugs?

Every six months (April and October) the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a special weekend conference where Mormons and other invited guests come and listen to the words of Mormon “prophets.” The words of these men are considered by many Mormons to be modern day scripture. Christians have used General Conference as an opportunity to preach the gospel to Mormons for many years. Some can be quite loud as they publicly preach to the crowds while others quietly have one-on-one conversations. Some carry signs and some do not.

Becky (my wife) had an idea for a General Conference outreach and since we have never attended, we decided to go so that we could get a sense of what actually happens during the conference. We observed how the crowds move, what times are the busiest, which intersections are more congested with people and where we can legally stand so as not to disrupt the flow of foot-traffic. It was a very successful trip and we now have a better idea of what we can do in the future.

Along with the street preachers and those having conversations with Mormons, there was one other group of Christians who were offering “free hugs” to anyone walking nearby. We encourage Christians to be friendly to the Mormon people and have no problem with hugs. The issue I have with these Christians was that they were offering hugs, but no real hope. They absolutely refused to witness to the Mormons and are very critical of those who do. Charles Hill, the pastor of One Community Church, was the man behind this “hugging campaign.” He wrote an interesting blog post regarding this “outreach.” I am going to focus on certain things he stated as well as quotes from an online article which is supportive of this type of ministry. Here is the link to Hill’s blog post. http://chazzdaddy.com/2011/03/31/dragging-the-book-of-mormon-on-the-ground-you-mormon-whores/

The first thing that stands out about Hill’s post is the title, “Dragging the Book of Mormon on the Ground, You Mormon Whores.” This is an obvious attempt to grasp the reader’s attention. (I wonder how that is any different from those he criticizes.) Hill provides a link to a YouTube video which shows some street preachers preaching, dragging a Book of Mormon on the ground with a string and making various offensive remarks. Hill claims that these Christian men, “yell, scream, spit, and cause a scene, even with many of the people who attend being young children. The words, prostitute, whores, etc. are thrown around.” This explanation is curious because nowhere in the video does anyone spit or use the words “prostitute” or “whore.”

Referring to the actions of the street preachers, Hill states, “Read all the way to the end to see what our response will be this weekend.” He then explains that Christians are to love the lost. He alludes to a few Bible verses about loving our neighbors and then states, “Jesus didn’t scream and hold signs at the Samaritan well. Read the Bible, thugs. [In love I say that].”

I can understand Hill’s dislike for the actions of the street preachers. Years ago I personally witnessed some street preachers at the Hill Cumorah Pageant say some pretty mean things to Mormons. I do not advocate that, but I am equally uncomfortable with Hill’s apparent careless, condemnation. I would be interested to hear what Hill thinks of the various actions of some of the Old Testament prophets or even some of the choice words of Jesus Himself. Let’s start with the Old Testament prophets.

The first one who comes to mind is Jeremiah. In his first sermon (chapter three, verse 1), Jeremiah likens faithless Israel to a harlot. In verse two Jeremiah proclaims that the land is polluted by Israel’s whoredoms. Jeremiah’s sermons are written down for us. They were loudly proclaimed in his day. Is it possible that children heard those sermons?

Elijah is another example. Of the many exploits of this prophet, the most famous is his confrontation with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah on Mount Carmel in 1st Kings 18:19-40. Before Elijah calls the consuming fire from heaven, he continuously insults the false prophets in verse 27. Does that fit into our politically correct paradigm for a prophet of God to insult those he is about to execute? If Hill was in the crowd of people who witnessed the events on Mount Carmel, would he call Elijah a “thug?”

If the street preachers use words like “whore” and “prostitute” (although the video does not show that), and they cast insults at people, then it looks like they have a Biblical precedence for it. Let me be clear. I am not approving of the alleged use of these terms or insults by the preachers. The point I want to make is that in doing so, they could make a case for following Biblical examples.

Speaking of which, let us be thankful that these street preachers do not follow the examples of Ezekiel or Isaiah. Ezekiel publicly baked bread over cow dung (Ezekiel 4:10-15) as a sign to Israel and Isaiah preached naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-3). While there are plenty of people who already think that temple square on a conference weekend is a zoo, it could be a lot worse. Think “stinky” with a much less pleasant view.

Yes, the Old Testament prophets did some pretty crazy things. Jesus Himself did also. On two occasions He cleared money changers out of the temple and overturned their tables. The account in John notes that Jesus did it with a whip (Matthew 21:12-12, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:14-17). He also had some rather unflattering things to say about the religious leaders of the day. In Matthew 23:15-17 He called them, “hypocrites, sons of hell, blind guides and fools.” It gets worse as the chapter progresses. Verses 27-33 contain such words like, “white-washed tombs, lawlessness, sons of murderers, serpents, brood of vipers and sentenced to hell.” Did Jesus lovingly articulate these words or was He… offensive? How does one hug with a whip?

I bring out these points not to agree with the methods of the street preachers or to give license to their actions. I realize that Jesus did these things and yet was without sin. That means that He had the right heart, passion, pure motives and correct attitude. The prophets probably did too. I mention these Biblical accounts because I want people to consider that we have some pretty radical examples in scripture of speech and conduct that is ordained of God, yet is not within the accepted norm nor culturally sensitive. If God can call men to do such “unacceptable” things like this in the past, how do we know that God has not called these men to do what they are doing at general conference?

One difference I would like to see in the street preachers is more of a sense of compassion and less meanness, but at the same time, we need to be careful before we become too quick to condemn their behavior. For in doing so, we may actually be bearing witness against ourselves. Did the Biblical prophets hear condemnation from the people in their time that was any different than what Mr. Hill heaps upon the street preachers at General Conference?

The next troubling part of Hill’s blog that I want to address is when he states, “Read all the way to the end to see what our response will be this weekend.” The end part of the blog reads, “Our brand new church is going to go down this Saturday [want to come join us? hit me up on my e-mail] and give out some love, Jesus style. “HUGS not THUGS” will be our marching orders. We will be handing out free hugs to those who need a boost after walking past our brothers and sisters in Jesus who just gave them an ear full. We will give them an arm full.” The context of his statements are that he wants to do something different than the street preachers, in response to their actions. Did I read that correctly? Mr. Hill wants to do an “outreach” in response to the street preachers? Let me get this straight. Is he really saying that the Gospel isn’t enough to motivate him? He needs to throw other Christians under the bus in order to gain favor in the sight of the Mormons? If that is the case, then His purpose isn’t to reach the Mormons at all. It is to make himself and his congregation look better than other Christians. I seriously doubt that Hill would agree with this assessment, but that is what he is communicating. I have had numerous Christians express similar concerns about this campaign.

A passage of Scripture comes to mind. Paul notes in Philippians chapter one that certain ministers are preaching the gospel out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives (Philippians 1:15-18). Paul correctly identifies the impure motives, but what is his response? He rejoices because the gospel is still being preached! Is this the same with Hill’s type of “outreach?” Would Paul still rejoice? I think he would… if Hill preached the gospel. The problem is, Hill purposefully does not do that.

On April 5th 2011, The Christian Post wrote an internet article about Hill’s “outreach” titled, “Christians Counter Hate, Offer Love to Mormons.” This article mentions that Hill has, “built relationships with many Mormons. He often opens his house up to his neighbors, almost all of whom are part of the LDS Church. But again, he has clarified that he’s not out to convert them to his Christian faith, but rather to simply love them.” The article goes on to say that Hill disagrees with treating Mormons like a “conversion project.” When I first saw the folks holding the “Free hugs” signs, I wondered what they were doing. When I asked, one gentleman stretched out his arms and asked, “How about a hug?” I initially declined because I wanted to talk. I asked again. The explanation I received was that they just wanted to “love on” people. “We don’t want to yell at you. We just want to offer you a hug.” In this short video clip you’ll see a young lady come up to one of the Christians to get her free hug. Note that there was absolutely NO attempt on the part of the Christian to witness to the young lady.

When a free hug was offered to me, there was no effort to engage me in a spiritual dialogue and absolutely no mention of Jesus. I was told that the people in the hugging campaign were not there to start conversations. It was said that we can’t argue people into the kingdom. They are right. You cannot argue someone into the kingdom of God. I’m just curious as to why they evidently think they can hug them into the kingdom.

Another problematic part of Hill’s blog is when he states, “Jesus didn’t scream and hold signs at the Samaritan well. Read the Bible, thugs. [In love I say that].” I couldn’t believe it when I read that for the first time. If Mr. Hill can insult these men and call them thugs, then why does he question the motives of people who use words he does not like? The street preachers are more honest in that they will call someone a thug to their face, not just on a blog post. Does Mr. Hill, have the courage to call these men thugs to their faces? If so, did he? Would it be right to do so? If not, then why do it from behind a keyboard and computer screen?

What Hill seems to misunderstand is that most evangelists are not at general conference to make friends anymore than the Old Testament prophets were in their day or Jesus was when He wielded the whip. There is a time for friendship evangelism and there is a time for public warning. Jesus understood this and that is why He didn’t preach judgment at the Samaritan well or start a relational dialogue with the money changers in the temple.

Interestingly enough, the Book of Mormon has a character within its pages which is very similar to the street preachers at General Conference. The children’s area in the Church History Museum across the street from Temple square has an exhibit dedicated to him. The sign next to the exhibit says, “Samuel the Lamanite told the people that Jesus Christ would soon come into the world. He warned the people to repent. Some people believed what he said, but many people did not listen. They even tried to kill him. Like Samuel, we can stand for truth, even if it seems that no one is listening.”

Samuel the Lamanite was a Book of Mormon prophet who was charged by God to preach repentance to the Nephite people. Because of his past exploits among the Nephites, he was not allowed to enter into the city. That is when he decided to preach from the top of the city wall. Helaman 13:4 states, “And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof, and stretched forth his hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart.” I find it interesting that, even though Mormonism has within its scripture characters who resemble the Christians at general conference, the Mormons have almost no tolerance for their activities. The difference between Samuel the Lamanite and the street preachers at General Conference is that the street preachers do not climb walls.

Toward the end of Sunday afternoon’s conference, me and Chip Thompson of Tri-Grace Ministries were listening to Lonnie Pursifull, one of the most notorious street preachers, preach to Mormons as they were leaving the conference center. We listened to him for a good amount of time and I can honestly say that he never said anything hateful or inappropriate while we were there.

Sometimes the Mormons would cast insults in his direction or say something derogatory about his preaching. When that would happen, Chip and I would declare, “He sounds like Samuel the Lamanite to me.” Sometimes the Mormons would sneer at us, but every once in awhile, a surprised Mormon would look at us with a thoughtful gaze. One time our comment prompted two Mormon missionaries to stop and talk to us for about half an hour. Chip had the senior of the two and I was able to talk to a guy who was raised Methodist, but was baptized into the LDS Church a year and a half ago. We both had good one-on-one conversations.

We talked about the nature of God, how to obtain forgiveness of sins, James 1:5 and testing the spirits. I did not pull any punches with this young man and told him that he was deceived, unforgiven and needed Jesus. Once our conversation was over, he thanked me for being kind and caring. That may sound contradictory in the light of the things that I said to him, but this young man understood my heart. He knew that I was not trying to offend him or be rude for the sake of being rude.

Sometimes Mormons need to hear hard things and because of that, I want to make sure that if they are offended, that they are offended because of the gospel and not because of my behavior or attitude. Thankfully, these guys were not offended by anything we said and were actually appreciative of the fact that we were honest enough with them to tell them what we believe about their position before God. At the end of our conversation, the missionary to whom I was speaking did something that completely shocked me. He hugged me. HE initiated the hug. Wow. I didn’t even have a “free hugs” sign.

My purpose in sharing this last story is to make the point that we are not dealing with an either/or situation here. From reading Hill’s blog it is easy to get the impression that there are only two options; you either hug/love the Mormons, and refrain from using the hugs as a witnessing tool, or you accept the label of a Christian thug. I reject both extremes.

Ephesians 4:15 tells us to “speak the truth in love.” This verse does not give us one commandment, but two. It tells us what to do and how to do it. First, we are to speak the truth. The street preachers are good at that. Does the LDS Church follow false prophets? Yes. Do Mormons need Jesus? Everyone does. Will Mormons go to hell if they remain in their unforgiven position before God? There is no doubt about it.

Second, we are to preach in love. That is the trick, to preach the message that Mormons are in eternal danger without coming across like we are happy about it. If you were to ask the average Mormon who makes them feel more loved, the street preachers or Mr. Hill’s group, I would be willing to bet that they would chose Hill’s group. But if a Mormon stands before the Lord in condemnation and the street preachers and Hill’s group is present, what will be harder for the Christians to hear, “You didn’t hug me” or “You didn’t tell me the truth?” The point is, truth and love need each other. Truth without love can be too abrasive, too hard. Love without truth is too soft. If love is devoid of truth, is it really love at all? While it is possible to speak the truth without love, is it possible to love, to really love and not tell the truth?

Romans chapter 10 tells us of the unmistakable need for preachers. How would it read if we changed a few words to make it fit into this “hugging ideology?” Starting at verse 13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they believe without a hugger? And how can anyone hug unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the arms of those who bring good hugs!” That is a bit silly, but then again, that is the point.

Lastly, I would like to address Pastor Hill directly. I recognize that some of what I have written is not easy for you to hear. Please accept this blog in the spirit in which it is intended. I mean you no harm and have no malice towards you. I simply want you to reconsider some of what you have said about your Christian brothers and done to them publicly. Posting a picture of a friend of mine on your twitter account which calls him a “thug” even after he apologized to you for some of the things he said to you? Not cool. Having your people yell “Free hugs” in an attempt to drown out his preaching of the gospel? Really not cool and certainly unchristian.

I don’t know if you realize this or not, but every media outlet that has reported on the “hugging campaign” has made reference to your “Hugs not thugs” quip. Is that how you really want to be known, by giving the “thugs” their name? Regardless of your intent, that is now how people know you. If you want to give out free hugs to all the Mormons at General Conference, I have no problem with that. Just please don’t denigrate your Christian brothers and sisters in the process. It comes across like you are standing together with the Mormons and pointing your finger at all the other Christians. Again, not cool.

I want to encourage you to do something contrary to what your blog states. You signed off on your “hugs blog” by saying, “Anyway…back to safe living for Jesus now. Thanks for stopping by.” You don’t strike me as the type of guy who really wants to “live safe for Jesus.” Hugging people is safe, but sticking your reputation on the line for the sake of the gospel? That is not safe living. Risking friendships for their eternal good is real love, but it is not safe living. I dare you to abandon safe living. Keep hugging people, but do so while embracing the preaching of the truth to the people God has called you to reach. At this point it looks as if you want to be know by your hugs, I’d rather be known by radically speaking the truth in love.

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53 Comments

  1. Sorry…I don't have time to leave responses to every blog post against us, but this is wrong.We do share the hope of the gospel, and I bet we get to share it more than any other group there that people were not happy to talk to.And the words I used in the title might not be in those videos, but we heard them in person. [you spiritually prostitute our wives when you knock on our doors…to be exact]. And this year was a very tame year if you were there as far as those who are being brutal are concerned.We baptize ex-mormons and have them in our church every weekend. I challenge you to ask the other folks [who bashed us just as brutally] how many they have each weekend.Blessings as we all reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  2. chazzdaddy, I'm a Christian who went to G.C. to witness to Mormons on the street. I don't care for the disrespectful "street screachers" anymore than you do, but I'm all in favor of "street preachers" that give Mormons the gospel. I too talked with the family of four giving out free hugs. I asked the man of the group if they were also giving out the gospel along with free hugs. He answered, "No, just free hugs today." I witnessed several Mormons receive their free hugs and they walked away still knowing that the LDS church is true and still knowing that Joseph is a prophet.What good does it do to hug a person on his way to hell and not tell him about Jesus? Please, at least SAY something about their plight. How else will they know?

  3. Charles,Thanks for your response and I understand being too busy to respond to every criticism against you. You've got to admit. There are a lot. ;-)If you choose to respond again, I would be greatful.As for "this is wrong," it would be helpful to have some clarification. To what exactly are you referring? Are you referring to my criticism to your group not sharing of the gospel? If so, you might want to clarify why I was specifically told that you guys were NOT there to preach the gospel.I am also concerned with your apparent over-emphasis on numbers. I do not think it wise to place your "weeks old" church membership up against churches which are firmly established in Utah and have being doing ministry to the Mormons for decades. I am not even going to mention the names of the churches in Utah which are full of former Mormons, yet wish you would be a little more Biblical in your witness and attitude. Your "I challenge you to ask the other folks" comment really smacks of pride. This isn't about comparing numbers alone. If it were, you would have to pull a Job 40:4 when you find out that I happen to be a missionary from a Church with close to 10,000 in attendance every weekend. This is about your attitude toward your brothers and sisters in the Lord. You do not need to continually throw them under the bus in order to make yourself look good.

  4. As someone in the Hugs campaign with One Community Church I would like to offer a few comments to ponder.The gentlemen yelling at, and talking down to the Mormons as they pass by are not even worth defending. I'm sorry but if you consider what those men do preaching the gospel… then we should stop talking now because we disagree fundamentally with what the gospel looks like and how it is supposed to be presented. Jesus spent plenty of time in places that were FULL of people who spent their time worshiping other gods. Yet, we don't have one instance of Jesus with strong or condemning words for these people, the only condemning words we have recorded are for the religious people who felt like they already had God figured out… Jewish Religious people with whom Jesus shared many beliefs! I would argue Jesus would have the same strong words for these men who stand yelling and talking down to the LDS who are passing by… and I repeat… most of these men are not engaging the LDS in dialogue with love and compassion but arguments and/or just spitting plain hate speech as people PASS BY! Presenting the good news is NOT yelling things that only drive a wedge between me and my neighbor! When Charles addresses these guys in terms of Mormons in their churches… he knows that if these people had family, neighbors, and other people they actually do life with who are Mormon they would not think of standing there with their self righteous smirks on their faces, their signs that divide, and yell things like, "your book, do you even know your own book… Mormon! Hey Mormon, your prophet is a liar… and your a fool for following a liar". (Actual words of wisdom and love from some idiot with a sign at this LDS Conference. He spoke WITH nobody… but he yelled at EVERYBODY)We (the people of One Community Church) have relationships with people who are entrenched in the LDS church and we want to see them liberated indeed! But we actually know the truth of witnessing … it takes a relationship with someone who is entrenched in this culture and NOT a loud obnoxious voice to convince them they need to following Jesus as their prophet! And since your a missionary to Mormons, I would assume you know this. Every Cross cultural ministry book I have read and the experts in this area talk about knowing and understanding the culture and bringing the gospel in the midst of the culture first and foremost… rather than blast the culture and it's people for the false beliefs and practices that are not consistent with the way of Jesus. As for the established churches in Utah who think our tactics are not biblical… I would love to hear from them directly and see if they prefer us hugging and loving them or the others who are yelling and condemning their friends, neighbors, and co-workers! Peace

  5. Melissa Grimes blogged about this a few weeks ago and shared some of the same thoughts.She mentions the mostly invisible group of evangelists (who aren't out to make a splash or draw media attention to themselves):"I know there are certain groups of Christians who protest at Mormon pageants and functions whose only goal is to carry a sign and screech at the Mormons who pass by. These same people drag the Book of Mormon or the “sacred” undergarments on the ground in an attempt to instigate an argument or infuriate those in attendance. To me this is unacceptable."I also know there’s a completely different group of Christians who go to these same functions, who sometimes carry a sign as well but always share the gospel with the Mormons. These people truly have a heart for the Mormon people, they want to see them saved, and have desire for a relationship with Jesus over one with their religion. All believers are called to share the gospel with the lost how else will they know they need Jesus Christ (Romans 10:14)?"I’m not sure which group is considered to be “thug” by Pastor Hill’s standards, or if anyone who tries to reach the Mormons buy any means other than just a hug falls into that category. What I am sure of is the only place Mormons who attended Conference heard the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ was outside the Conference walls from those who went there to witness too them, who truly love them and want to see them come to Christ."What is sad is that many of these mostly-invisible evangelists are being thrown under the bus, and even lumped in with the worst of the "screechers" that come to LDS events. The extremes get media attention: those that are belligerent, and those that give ecumenical "we're not hear to convert you, you're just fine" vibes. We'll have to wait until final judgment for much of the good evangelism to come to light. Good evangelists usually aren't looking for cameras and media attention, nor are they using cheap shots to gain favor. They're looking for lost souls to whom they can explicitly share the truth in love. Their reward is not the praise of the Mormon Church. Rather, their reward is in heaven.

  6. Tony,Thanks for your comments. Thank you also for proving my point. Why do you and Charles continue with the false dichotomy? There were more Christians out there than those yelling and those hugging. Did you read to the end of my post? I advocate speaking the truth in love. Not just truth and not just love, but speaking the truth in love. Obviously that presupposes that one will be speaking, something that I did not see your group doing.The friend I was talking about was actually preaching the gospel. He wasn't doing anything like what the street preachers were doing. After he was interuppted by your group, he asked if your group saw the difference between what he was doing and what the street preachers were doing. Charles agreed and backed off, but not everyone in your group did. The point I am trying to make is that you guys need to more careful in your blanket condemnation of everyone else out there. You come across like if we do anything other than hug people, we are thugs. What is worse is that you have given the Mormons the same idea. Now becuase of the carelessness of your pastor, I am labeled a thug for witnessing to Mormons.Again, your last comment is nothing more than a false dichotomy. The Churches in Utah would rather that you preach the gospel. If you still want to hug, go for it. Just make sure that you say something that will make an eternal difference. Only the gospel can do that. Hugs alone never will.

  7. In full disclosure, I am a friend of Tony and support his work as a missionary but do not live in Utah. I also have a friend in a Middle Eastern country named Nate who I support as a missionary. I think both Tony and Nate are trying to reach lost people through very similar methods. I agree that a missionary is useless if they don't speak the Gospel message in love, but that does not mean that they have to talk about Jesus EVERY time they encounter a person of a different faith. My friend Nate has probably shared the Gospel rarely in his first 2 years in the Middle East because he knows he must first earn the respect to be heard. Developing relationships with men and women in his community is his first priority and after he has gained a level of trust with them, then his words about Jesus may be heard and not immediately rejected.I think that the members of One Community Church may be taking this same approach, recognizing that the time to share the Gospel may not be as people approach their own special conference. How willing would you be to listen to a group of Muslims talk to you about Allah as you walked from your car to church last Sunday for Easter? Obviously that would be a bad time to talk to you about faith, so instead do something productive with that time. Like try to show that not all Christians work on the same agenda. While that message is not explicitly the Gospel message which saves, it is a message people may need to hear before they are ever open to listen to the true Gospel message.Coming to Christ can be done in a single evangelistic conversation, but it can also be a very long journey of pre-evangelistic events, like recognizing not all Christians are hate-filled because you once saw a group of Christians giving hugs instead of screaming about sin and hell.So you are correct that One Community Church did not bring anybody to Jesus that day, but they may have moved a few people a baby step toward they day they will be able to accept Jesus. On the other hand, the angry screamers most likely are moving people a large step away from faith in Jesus for their salvation. Sometimes a bunch of baby steps is what it takes for somebody to finally make the huge transition from one religion to embracing Jesus.And may God bless you in your own missionary work to such a challenging people group.~Ryan

  8. Ryan,I appreciate your thoughtful comment. My only response is that sometimes it seems like this whole discussion assumes that the receipt of the gospel is determined solely by our method or approach to evangelism. Neither love or eloquence guarantees anyone will be saved. Neither can a stern word or even an angry preacher prevent a person from believing the gospel when God makes His move on the person's heart. We all could be more charitable toward Christian brothers if we understood or remembered the sovereignty of God.Timothy Oliver

  9. Timothy Oliver asked me to post this for him. I guess his iPad is acting up. It is long so will post it in multiple parts.I am the street preacher in the photo posted by Mr. Hill on his blog, with the caption, "The Thugs." I am also the one referenced as "a friend of mine" in Keith's blog, and again his last post.I was preaching the gospel to people waiting at the stop light. I was holding a sign quoting a verse from the Book of Mormon: Moroni 10:32. I preach from that verse, quoting it, to help Mormons understand that the "grace" offered in Mormonism is only available for a price—a price not one Mormon (or any mortal) has ever paid, nor ever can pay. The idea is to foster hunger and thirst for righteousness. I then continue by the gospel message of real grace described in the Bible.While doing this, I was continually interrupted by a number of ladies and children loud enough drown out my voice. At first I thought it was coincidence. But after a while it became impossible either to ignore or believe that it wasn't deliberate. Every time I opened my mouth to preach, they shouted me down. I stopped speaking; they stopped speaking. I would start; they would start up again. Over and over and over again. I was absolutely flabbergasted that persons calling themselves Christians would do something like that.Righteous indignation was the only response appropriate. I asked what was their message. No answer. What was the CONTENT of their message. Again no response. "So you have no message, no content, but you just want to shout me down. All you can say is what you already have written on your sign—so why do you have to say anything at all? I can't BELIEVE you are deliberately obstructing and preventing a Christian from actually preaching the gospel (and yes, I had actually been preaching the gospel itself when they started interfering with me).I am a two-tIme stroke victim, and when I get very excited or agitated I sometimes have difficulty articulating my thoughts and words. I was sufficiently angered that my words might have been difficult to understand or follow. In any case, they asked for no clarification.About then another street preacher came up and started up. He was sarcastic and condescending. But the "huggers" didn't harass him. But neither could I preach. Eventually I crossed over to the ladies and asked them if they could any difference between what I had been doing and what the other guy was doing. "Oh yes!" Their response was immediate, clear, and heartily in the affirmative. "So why were you deliberately obstructing my preaching?" They had no answer, but at that point Mr. Hill interjected and said it wasn't deliberate (sorry, I don't believe it) and said he had instructed the women to stop doing that. I suppose that is why the other preacher got a free ride.

  10. Part two of Timothy's post.I am posting this from my iPad, and text in this comment box doesn't scroll so I cannot review my post for errors, typos, etc. But one thing I forgot to say was that when I crossed over speak to the ladies, the first thing I did was to apologize for being angry. In retrospect, I am not really sure that was the right thing to do. Living in our politically correct world I felt obliged. And I genuinely did want to restore harmony with people I believed were Christian. But I believe that whether they knew it or not, they were doing the Devil's work. And, then and there, they evinced no remorse for their actions and appeared rather willing to justify themselves. Mr. Hill also tried to actually do so, and after he cut me off several times before I could bring any resolution in the situation I gave up trying. Now, after reading his blog and his defensive response to Keith I felt I had to speak up. And of course I found it especially galling to find a photo of myself as his illustration of choice for the label of "Thug". I have many times had Mormons come up to me and express thanks, appreciation, even compliments when I am preaching. Of course, there are far more who respond with mocking and/or anger. That is to be expected. Jesus didn't get crucified by making people comfortable. He said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Mat. 10:34; Luke 12:51). It is not automatically wrong for men to raise their voices (Jesus called out right in the temple: Mat. 7:28) in public preaching, or to make people uncomfortable while doing so. And speaking of offensive, I find Mr. Hill's "Dragging the Book of Mormon… " blog post to be quite reeking with self-importance, arrogance, and condescension. His pretentious "give out some love, Jesus style" is particularly egregious. His style of "love" is Jesus' style? Does he think Jesus was not loving the Pharisees with whom He contended or the people He drove out of the Temple? Was that not love Jesus style? My friend, it was! And it was the very most loving thing He could do for them. The problem is you don't know the full spectrum of biblical love, or the lengths it will go to accomplish it's purposes. And he is well nigh to accusing our Lord of the sin of not loving.I'm also still waiting to find the quote, "They will know you by your LOVE" that he puts on the lips of Jesus. That is not at all synonymous with, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Logos couldn't find Mr. Hill's quote in the NASB, the ESV, NET, HCSB, NKJV, KJV, NIV84, or the NLT. Perhaps Mr. Hill would favor us by telling us from where he pulled that one out. Failing that, he could admit that he made it up out of thin air to support his own thesis and peculiar spin on love. (Not cool, not good.) And then perhaps he could get over himself. (And to him and anyone reading this, whether you understand it or not, I am loving Mr. Hill to tell him any of this.)May God bless!Timothy Oliver,Pastor, Sovereign Grace Christian FellowshipSantaquin, UT

  11. Ryan,You stated: I agree that a missionary is useless if they don't speak the Gospel message in love, but that does not mean that they have to talk about Jesus EVERY time they encounter a person of a different faith.Agreed. No one said it was necessary to talk about Jesus EVERY time they encounter people of other faiths, but you are missing the point.Hill's blog specifically stated that they were there to counter the efforts of the "Thugs." No gospel preaching in mind. They just wanted to hug the Mormons IN RESPONSE to the "Thugs." That my friend is throwing their brothers and sisters in the Lord under the bus. It is flat wrong.Ryan stated, How willing would you be to listen to a group of Muslims talk to you about Allah as you walked from your car to church last Sunday for Easter?I would not have a problem with it at all. How hypocritical would it be for me to ignore the lost on my way to church so that I could go worship God in a "special service?" In fact, I would relish the opportunity to show my children how to witness to a Muslim. What a wonderful opportunity to be able to preach the gospel to the lost on Resurrection Sunday! Please, send them by! Ryan stated, Obviously that would be a bad time to talk to you about faith, so instead do something productive with that time. Like try to show that not all Christians work on the same agenda. While that message is not explicitly the Gospel message which saves, it is a message people may need to hear before they are ever open to listen to the true Gospel message.What is it with you people and buses? "Try to show that not all Christians work on the same agenda?" There you go again."Christian brother, meet pavement. You might want to duck, the bus is coming."One last thing. Ryan stated, And may God bless you in your own missionary work to such a challenging people group.Which is it? Do you curse us as "Thugs" like Hill did or do you bless our efforts? Pick one and defend it, but please don't be the fulfillment of James 3:10."From the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way."

  12. Keith,I tried to be polite and thoughtful but you twisted several of my comments. I see that you are taking this very personally and so the results of any further conversation will not be helpful, therefore I am removing myself from any further comments.And I do pray that God will use you to further His Kingdom even while I disagree with your current means.

  13. C. S. Lewis in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" said, “’Who is Aslan?’ asked Susan. ‘Is he a man?’, asked Lucy. ‘Aslan a man!’ said Mr. Beaver sternly. ‘Certainly not! I tell you he is the king of the wood, and the son of the Great Emperor beyond the sea. Don’t you know who the king of beasts is? Aslan is a lion! The great lion.’ ‘Ooo,’ said Susan. ‘I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I should feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.’ ‘That you will dearie! Make no mistake,’ said Mrs. Beaver. ‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just silly.’ ‘Then is he safe?,’ said Lucy. ‘Safe!’, said Mr. Beaver. ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about “safe”? Of course he isn’t safe… but he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.’"

  14. There is nothing unbiblical or wrong about simply hugging people. But there is something wrong with it *if* it is intended as "baby steps" to lead people to the gospel. Why? Simply because the recipients have no idea who the hugs are even given by! Are these huggers Christians, LDS, atheists, New Agers, non-religious, etc.? This is why Keith's point is particularly poignant, viz., these huggers simply wanted to mock their Christian brothers and let LDS know that they (whoever "they" are) qua huggers stand with them. In so doing, these huggers are an offense to God, and ironically invalidate any attempt for LDS to know we are the Lord's disciples by the love we have toward each other (Jn. 13:35). You huggers are the ones who need to repent and make amends to the Body of Christ in Utah, the ones you've just recently become acquainted with. We would have avoided this problem if you would have been more BC (biblically correct) rather than PC.

  15. Keith,I had a long response and your blog will not post it, something about the HTML being too long, even though none of my response was HTML?After reading your response to Ryan, I'm totally laughing. This guy basically agrees with you, but also says that sometimes a different approach isn't always so bad… and then you blast everything he says and then totally blow up James 3:10 which had nothing to do with Ryan's comment. You have taken this text and the words of James totally out of context!I'll give you the short version of my response. I wasn't there when Mr Oliver was shouted down and that was not the intention of One Community Church… and it was stopped. I was there when he apologized and asked if there is a difference between him and the screamers. If you guys are having honest heartfelt discussions with Mormons as they leave the conference and you are not a sign carrying, name calling, mean street preacher, by all means continue.I present no false dichotomy. Never did I say, either you scream or you hug that is all. We attended the conference to present another side of the story. They yell, we hug… that is why we offered them with no strings attached… and yes we were able to enter into conversations with people about our differences and many people thanked us for disagreeing with a love they can see and feel rather than a hatred they wish to run from!So what is so different about our hugs and your signs? They are both meant to open up dialogue with others about faith, no?We believe the screamers and mockers do more harm than good to the relationships we have with Mormons and wish they would go home… maybe it would free up some more conversations for people who actually care about them… like us huggers! I don't want to only give a hug, I want to dialogue… and you say that you guys are not fond of the screamers… then why do you care if we hug them after being blasted and mocked by others? Maybe our hug is what opens them up to the gospel the next time they hear it? Keith, I have to ask you something… do you have signs in your front yard telling everyone they are going to hell with out Jesus? Do you work with people who are not believers and tell them they are going to hell as soon as you meet them and make sure they know that they are sided with the Devil and his angels? My guess is the people you know and love have totally different interaction with you on a daily basis and if I came up to them on the street yelling at them for their beliefs and called them names… you would not be very happy with me.In closing, please understand that the gospel is at the heart of everything we do. I moved here because I want to see change in this area… and so far we have seen tremendous advancement for the Kingdom of God in just 12 weeks. People are trusting Christ and many others are seeking and asking questions because what they see and hear flies in the face of what they have heard all of their lives! This is why we do what we do here in Utah. If your not down with the screamers, then challenge them in October, or in your next blog… call them out and make them answer for their tactics that are not even close to the way of Jesus!Lastly, that family you mocked on You Tube… they touch Mormons every single day and through those touches minister to them in ways you can't living in Texas. That girl, she is in High School and struggles with fitting in just because she is a Christian. But desperately wants to see her friends know and find Jesus! Mr. Oliver and Keith,If you don't want us to "lump" you in with the yellers, don't lump what we do into your "doing the devils work" and no gospel at all, hug them into hell rhetoric. We are here because God called, we answered and now we navigate how to reach as many people as possible with the truly good news that Jesus is alive, He alone is God, and He saves from sin without me doing anything to accomplish what only He can do!Peace

  16. The question was posed, "How willing would you be to listen to a group of Muslims talk to you about Allah as you walked from your car to church last Sunday for Easter?"More than willing- I can't think of a better time to talk with an unsaved soul who presented himself to me. The observation was made, "Obviously that would be a bad time to talk to you about faith, so instead do something productive with that time."I observe that obviously we have a different opinion of what constitutes an obviously bad time to talk to me about my faith. I can think of nothing more productive with my time than to declare my faith to a Muslim on Easter Sunday leaving church. I am reminded of Revelations Chapter 3. Dear Lord, let me not be like the Church of Laodicea. Matthew 7 gives us lots to ponder related to this discussion. Are we on the wide road or narrow path? Will our Lord say, "I never knew you?" (don't quote me Matthew 7:1 unless your ready for 7:5)Oddly, in our small group last night, someone made a disparging comment about a street preacher. Having publicly professed faith and shared the gospel and defended the Bible, and led persons to salvation… I counselled this couple. My first advise was to look at the message. I asked them, "Was he scripturally correct or incorrect?" "Correct," they had to admit. "So it was the method, you had issue with?" "Yes," They confirmed.Herein lays the rub. While one may not choose the "turn or burn" message or methodology… it works sometimes. It may be and sometimes is the message someone needs to hear. The gentle approach will not work with some. The turn or burn will not work for another. It is not Mr. Hill's place to declare a method, a bibilically support method, wrong.We might consider Matthew 7:15 – 20. What fruit does this bear? Is there a false prophet here? Finally, is a hug a firm rock or shifting sand?-Steven ClineSan Antonio, TX

  17. John 13:35 — "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" The irony here of Charles & company using this verse is that it seems directly about love between Christians. To try to fulfill John 13:35 by showing some kind of love toward Mormons by reviling and slandering brothers in Christ … is ironically to violate the very thing he is trying to fulfill.

  18. Tony said, "If you don't want us to 'lump' you in with the yellers, don't lump what we do into your 'doing the devils work' and no gospel at all, hug them into hell rhetoric."I don't think that's a fair representation of what Timothy or Keith said, and I think you should take a closer look at the nuance and careful, respectful responses both have made. When Timothy used the term "doing the devil's work", it was specifically in view of the fact that some of your group had drowned him out. They had worked in opposition to Timothy, not as a complementary co-worker.Let's be honest, if you guys are out there giving hugs as a way to initiate on-the-street discussion with Mormons, as a way of working alongside your fellow brothers in Christ who are out there using other Biblical means, and even as a way of partly neutralizing the tense needlessly tense and difficult atmosphere that the screechers create, then Keith's blog post here wouldn't exist. The problem is that Charles seems to have tried to gain favor with Mormons by creating/reinforcing a hug/thug stereotype, while reviling and slandering those who share the truth in love with more direct methods.Please, come to next General Conference and do the hugs campaign again! But change a few things: – Be explicit about your motive to convert Mormons. – Use the hugs as a way of initiating religious conversation, and be forthright about it."But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2) – Be cautious, slow, careful, and nuanced in your criticism of the evangelists around you. Lumping them all into the category of "thugs", and of the most beliggerent garment-waving sort, is cheap and hurtful. – Affirm the presence of other evangelists and be reverent, not disdainful, of their work.Using our individual approaches, gifts, etc., and being biblically faithful and full of evangelistic integrity, we can all work alongside each other and love each other. That is, after all, the kind of thing that will let outsiders know we are his disciples, isn't it? Loving each other, not stepping on each other to get ahead.

  19. I once learned that there are good and bad witness. We should not compare one witness to another. I honestly once attend an event known as "Field of Miracle". We had people protesting outside our event because they said that there was beer and bad things inside our event. They were screaming and casting out demons on us. I thought that was interesting. We were Christians. Bible made it clearly that we are to test all things. As a full time advocate fighting for human rights. I believe that God showed me we need both people working together. Because anything made by man has no right or wrong. Only good things from heaven is right. I believe that Chazzdaddy is doing what God called him to do. I also agree with what Keith Walker is saying. The main point here is not about who is right or wrong. The main point here is that both of us are brothers and sisters. We have a different calling from God. Let's face it… not all Mormons are soft. Did anyone read this: Matthew 10:16-17 (New Century Version) 16 "Listen, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be careful of people, because they will arrest you and take you to court and whip you in their synagogues.Truth… Chazzdaddy and Keith are both human… they are doing what they think is best for God. It is not about the numbers that Chazzdaddy brings to church that should be counted. But, it is not whenver Keith is right or wrong. The whole thing is about God. We need both those who are wise to the serpent who can speak to those who have hard hart. And, we also need those who can speak to the doves. I know there are Mormons who are serpents. other Mormons who are doves. We need to reach both…Back to the point… God has showed me in the national level. There were two organizations. One organization was very into education and the other was radical. I found that God called me to be radical for some reason.I learned that those who were radical lead the government to speak to the national organization that was education. For years, the educational organization failed because they were being nice. But, when the radical group came in. They pushed the government to think… We don't want to deal with the radical… but we want them to stop coming. They contact the educational group to tell the radical group to stop. But, the educational group says no… we can not help you with that. But, we have been educating you for 20 years of what they are upset about. Can you now discuss this Bill that we want passed on the floor. Then, the government is like ok… we will now discuss that bill on the floor. Anything made by man is not possible… we need to remember that. But, all men do for God is possible. Thank you Kevin for being Radical. I bless you for what you do… you reach those who are serpent. And, I do bless Hill for reaching the doves. I did enjoy reading your article and it gave me a new view that I did not think of what can be done about the hugging thing. However I support both because both are of the flesh. Dean "Rex" DeRusso

  20. Just to add that I forgot to mention. There were no bad things in the Field of Miracle Event. We only had food, soda, water and Christian bands. We had a healing service and many people came to Christ. But, one cool thing about the event. We had some people outside who came and gave those protesters hugs. We asked if we could pray for God's will to be done. And, they accepted. We let them continue… some of them joined us inside and found… they were screaming about Beer… and no Beer could be found anywhere in the event.We must be careful of our wisdom of what we do. We need to be sure that we share the truth and be sure people see God not the hugs, witness or event. We even need to be sure that we do not bring the wrong messages inside the event. Dean "Rex" DeRusso

  21. Ryan,You stated, "I tried to be polite and thoughtful but you twisted several of my comments.No. I quoted you, then either refuted you or answered your question. Perhaps you don't like my rebuttals or my answers, but that is no reason for accusing me of twisting things. I'd sure like to know what you think I twisted.Ryan stated, "I see that you are taking this very personally and so the results of any further conversation will not be helpful, therefore I am removing myself from any further comments.Of course I am taking this personally. Some new pastor in Utah calls me and my friends "thugs" for preaching the gospel? Are not personal insults to be taken… personally?What you fail to recognize is that while I am taking this personally, I am not irrational about it. I've had many private compliments (several email and even a few phone calls) for keeping my cool in this dialogue. Again, personal does not equate to irrational.Ryan,said, "And I do pray that God will use you to further His Kingdom even while I disagree with your current means.Please define for me, what do you think are my current means? I don't hold signs. I rarely street preach and I enjoy one-on-one conversations much more than any other way of presenting the gospel. I thought I made it clear in my blog post that my means is to speak the truth in love?Feel free to jump back into the conversation any time. I'd really like to understand your perspective.

  22. Anonymous… Put your name on the blog if you wish to respond please, I prefer to know who I’m talking with : )Let's not speak to just one thing I said, and try to twist it to kingdom come.I don't know Keith, but it seems to me he had an issue with the hugging thing from the get go… he posted a video of people hugging those who passed by and then comments that no gospel is offered. I wonder if he watched every hug and saw that no conversations ever happened? I know he didn't because I had them and know others who did as well and no video is posted. So his blog showed one side of the story… his. Hugs without gospel is no gospel, and that is what I heard at the conference from some of the screamers! Interestingly enough that seems to be the stance in this blog. Now I also realize that his frustration comes from his friend being lumped into the thug category and I certainly understand that frustration. He also seems to be upset that in a blog by Charles, there was no mention of other groups presenting the gospel is a nicer fashion than the screamers… I didn't witness Mr. Oliver personally as I was on the other side of the street, but he seems to have a different way about him than the screamers…Now, in terms of Charles Hill and One Community Church trying to "gain favor" with the Mormons… favor was not the point of the campaign, we wanted to show another side of the story. However, Jesus was not opposed to gaining favor with people, so your point is mute…"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" Acts 2:52… NLT says "all the people". He rebuked the Pharisees and experts in the law, which gave him increasing favor with ALL people…"And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." Luke 11:46Jesus was a friend to the sinners…"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." The scripture goes on to tell the story of the sinful woman anointing Jesus feet with oil, and being judged because he lets a sinner touch him!Luke 7:34If Jesus felt is was important to grow in favor with all men (which includes women), maybe we should consider how people view us? Peace

  23. Tony,First, about the html thing. Blogger has a weird way of saying, "Your post is too long." There is a character limit of 4,096 or something like that. It has nothing to do with html per se.Tony said, "After reading your response to Ryan, I'm totally laughing. This guy basically agrees with you, but also says that sometimes a different approach isn't always so bad… and then you blast everything he says and then totally blow up James 3:10 which had nothing to do with Ryan's comment. You have taken this text and the words of James totally out of context!Please explain where I blasted something in which Ryan and I agreed. From my perspective, if it weren't for the fact that we were contradicting each other, we'd be saying the EXACT same thing. You may need to read that last sentence twice.Tony said, "If you guys are having honest heartfelt discussions with Mormons as they leave the conference and you are not a sign carrying, name calling, mean street preacher, by all means continue."We will. How about the next time Charles feels the need to throw his brothers and sisters under the bus, he makes a distinction between those he finds offensive and those he does not. He only lists two groups in his blog post.From the Mormon perspective, if you aren't hugging, you are a "Thug." That needs to be corrected. You may disagree with my assessment of what the LDS think, but please take into consideration that you did not catch their flack. WE did.Tony said, "I present no false dichotomy. Never did I say, either you scream or you hug that is all. We attended the conference to present another side of the story. They yell, we hug…Yes, and in doing so you placed yourself upon a pedestal and pointed a finger at your brothers in the Lord. If you want to hug, go for it. You just don't have to denigrate your brothers in the process. Wouldn't you agree that some of them are pretty adept at doing that anyway? Do you really think they need your help in making themselves look bad in the eyes of the Mormons? If you need the street preachers to make yourself look good… *sigh* That is sad.Tony said, "So what is so different about our hugs and your signs? They are both meant to open up dialogue with others about faith, no?"First, the only time I ever hold a sign is when I am holding one for a friend while he uses the bathroom. Second, I was specifically told by one of the huggers that they were NOT there to open up dialogues. Your above statement contradicts EVERY online article that reported this event. Please explain the apparent contradiction.Tony said, "I don't want to only give a hug, I want to dialogue…"THANK YOU! If this is your position, then I have absolutely ZERO problem with that. Give me a "Free Hugs" t-shirt and I'll join you. I'll even design the t-shirt for you.(I wear XXL by the way) I've already got an idea for a shirt in mind.Could you do me a favor though? Have Charles write another blog about how we are going to temple square to give out hugs in Jesus name. Make sure that he is on board with us and that no one in our group ever tells a passer-by that "we are not here to start dialogues." If someone DID say that we are not there to start conversations, then someone might get the wrong idea about us. I'd also have to insist that we never called our brothers in Christ, "Thugs." Do you think you can arrange all of this for me? Let me know and I'll book my ticket. If you think I am just being sarcastic, try me.

  24. Tony said, "Lastly, that family you mocked on You Tube… they touch Mormons every single day and through those touches minister to them in ways you can't living in Texas. That girl, she is in High School and struggles with fitting in just because she is a Christian. But desperately wants to see her friends know and find Jesus!"Mocked? If you think I mocked them, then you have thin skin indeed. There is nothing in that video that can be construed as mocking. I made sure that I made as little comments as necessary because at the time I filmed it, I had no idea what I was going to do with the video. Those with thin skin certainly shouldn't start arguments with their brothers by calling them "Thugs."If you can't tell, this "Thugs" thing really bothers me. I asked Charles on his blog yesterday if he thinks it was right to call his brothers "Thugs." He is usually pretty quick to answer. So since I'm still waiting for his answer, I'll ask you.Tony, is it right to publicly call your brothers "Thugs?" Charles keeps alluding to this verse so keep it in mind when you answer. John 13:35- By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.I eagerly await your reply.

  25. Tony,I received two emails informing me that you have responded to my comments, but they do not show up when I look at the blog. I'm not sure if you deleted them or not. I'll wait to respond once they appear here.

  26. Maybe your anger over the blog and the thug comment clouded your judgment, and your intent was not to mock.. but listen to your voice, its tone, and it certainly comes off as mocking or ridiculing them on the video. But hey, I can see myself being upset over the thugs labeling and crossing a line I never intended. My pointing out the ridicule was simply to say this family came to support Charles and their new church and have daily struggles to fit in, in a culture that is very exclusive. Again, let me pose this question to you… why don’t you call out the yellers who make it harder on everyone else…I watched a portion of a talk you gave and you said a few things I agreed with 100%“We have to be extremely careful how we approach later day saints”“Our attitude is most important. If you start blasting into a Mormon with the most skillfully crafted argument you can come up with, they are not going to hear a word you say, they are just going to see your attitude”Then you quote Eph 4:2 “Speaking the truth in love… it doesn’t say speaking the truth is love”A story you told of a street preacher telling a Mormon that his beliefs are going to send them straight to hell (pointing out his attitude was terrible) “That Mormon goes home and tells his friends about what happened to him at Manti and if that friend come back and sees us the mental image will be projected on ALL of us!”

  27. Blogger is failing on posting my comments, maybe it wasn't Timothy's iPad after all : )

  28. Tony said, "Maybe your anger over the blog and the thug comment clouded your judgment, and your intent was not to mock.. but listen to your voice, its tone, and it certainly comes off as mocking or ridiculing them on the video. But hey, I can see myself being upset over the thugs labeling and crossing a line I never intended. My pointing out the ridicule was simply to say this family came to support Charles and their new church and have daily struggles to fit in, in a culture that is very exclusive."May I suggest another scenario? Perhaps you are reading into my "tone" because of your anger towards my blog. This seems more plausible to me for two important reasons. One, my video is roughly halfway through my blog post. There is enough there for you to read and get angry before you see the video.Two, your time line is incorrect. I did not read Charles' blog nor did I see the "Thugs" picture until after I came back from temple square. All I knew at the time that I took the video was that there were Christians at temple square who were hugging Mormons, but refusing to give the gospel. Again, this is what I was told by the huggers. I just wanted to get some actual footage of the hugging. To my dismay, there was nothing spoken.To sum up, I couldn't have been angry about Charles' blog or his "Thugs" comments when I took the video because I didn't know anything about them. If I did, you can bet I would have confronted Charles about it.I'll address your other question once I get done watching Survivor. I'm an addict.

  29. I'm not the one bothered by any of this… so anger hasn't entered into the scenario for me. Let's just say you win, call it quits, and part ways…Sorry we couldn't find the common ground I was hoping for!God bless in your ministry!Peace…

  30. Tony,Yeah, I don't know WHAT was going on with Blogger tonight. I received 17 emails telling me that you posted the one post. Weird.Tony said, "Again, let me pose this question to you… why don’t you call out the yellers who make it harder on everyone else…Fair question. How do you know that I have not called out the street preachers? I just don't think it is productive to publicly call them "Thugs" thus further damaging an already strained relationship. I have been critical when I see something wrong. You made reference to that yourself. I talked to this guy in Manti during the pageant and challenged his attitude and approach. The difference is that I spoke to him privately.

  31. Tony said, "I'm not the one bothered by any of this… so anger hasn't entered into the scenario for me. Let's just say you win, call it quits, and part ways…Sorry we couldn't find the common ground I was hoping for!"No, no, no, no. Come back here. I want my "free hugs" T-shirt. I thought we were in agreement. You said that you are going to hug and dialogue. I agreed with you. Are we doing this or what?Plus, you never answered my question. Tony, is it right to publicly call your brothers "Thugs?"

  32. They were spoken to a time or two last year man-to-man and they just yelled and mocked that! They have no desire to be civil and you know it. These same guys came to the LDS Conference every year and shouted down another believer, street preacher and respected apologist James White and held signs against him!!!… Why? Because he used verses from the NIV (Really)… Apparently KJV is the only real translation and using the NIV sends people to hell… and they made sure they mocked him in public for his use of a bible translation. James White used to come every year, hand out tracts, have dialogue, etc… but because of their abuses he has stopped from what I understand. This is why I thought it funny you mentioned a certain notorious street preacher who was much like the "pseudo" Lamonite Street Preacher from the BOM. I'm not here to defend a name… I was here to give a different side of the story than you reported. You mentioned going to them in private is the right thing to do… is this private? Is responding to every article and blog on-line private? I think I hear your heart so I understand your concerns… I'm just trying to point out that your assessments come from one angle. And if one person said it was just a hug maybe they are not comfortable, or sensed something else in the encounter… I can only speak for me : )I said you win over and out earlier, because you want someone to give a little and your not willing to reciprocate. You have been unwilling to bend at all because your right (in your eyes) You took my original words and twisted them a bit, and failed to acknowledge I never said you or your friend are in any category. I also never said you either scream or you don't. I never threw anyone under a bus and I never said that everyone who does things outside of a hug is wrong. The truth is without the screamers I may have never attended the event (wouldn't you have liked that!) I went because I was broken hearted to see and hear what these guys screaming and yelling at people are doing to the name of Christ! So we shall see what next time holds as far as the hugs go. Maybe a T-Shirt, maybe not… I know that my desire is to always have dialogue when possible… if that means I hug 100 people and get to have a great conversation with just 1 group… it beats yelling at everyone and then arguing with 10 people who just want a fight and driving the wedge further between the two groups!Peace

  33. Tony,Thanks for coming back. Seriously. I am glad that you have not given up on me. ;-)You raise some good points and I would like to address them. But first, I have to have an answer to my question. It is only fair.When you signed off yesterday, it appeared that you left because you did not want to answer my question about it being proper/improper to call your brother a "Thug." It appears that Charles did the same thing. The very last post on his "Mormon whores" blog is mine, which states, Let’s just get to the bottom line. Do you think you (Charles) were right in calling your brothers in the Lord, “Thugs?” Charles continues to ignore my question or take responsibility for his choice in words.This is a bottom line issue for me and I cannot go further until this is addressed. I keep asking the same question and no one is answering. Once this issue is dealt with, I would be happy to answer any question you may have. Please understand that I am not accusing you personally of calling our brothers "Thugs." I don't know if you used that term or not. When I say "you," I am referring to the huggers in general, and Charles specifically. At present, you are the only hugger with the integrity to actually discuss this hot button issue. I say integrity because you are actually taking responsibility for your actions. I respect that much more than those who say they do not have the time to answer critics. That is just plain irresponsibility.So please, answer my question. Do you think it is right to call your brothers in the Lord, “Thugs?”

  34. Tony: I just wanted to leave you a comment. I wish you were responding more Christian like sharing the gospels. The KJV and NIV comment is really world view. I get attacked for that all the times. And, I tell them have you checked out the passage 2 Timothy 3:16? But, these are perfect example of pointing fingers at Christians. People do not believe in God being in control. And, seeing what God is doing in people’s life. I come from a background where I witness to those who can not read English well and bringing them to Jesus. When, people say that KJV will bring them to hell these people go away from Jesus. Would I tell the KJV… I will hug them because the KJV people are thugs. No… I will basically tell them that if the KJV readers are happy with what they are doing for God. Great. If it works for them, Great… but I want to show that I believe God still will reach those people who read NIV. It would make more sense to me to say that I do not agree with the teaching of the Mormons. I can not speak for other Christians who witness as they do. But, I am here for hugs to remind them that Christians do have a Heart for Mormons. And, give them some gospel passages or contact information. Hoping they will see me as a nice person and come back for more. When you said, “I'm not the one bothered by any of this… so anger hasn't entered into the scenario for me. Let's just say you win, call it quits, and part ways…”The question we should be answering right now is whenever calling our brothers and sisters a thug is a good or bad thing. Did you read my comment above? Did I call either one a thug? Did I say that I agree that calling a thug is good? No… I just reminded everyone there are serpents and doves we need to reach. Don’t let the Mormons see that we are splitting our Christians up in groups. We should show that the hugs are for the doves. Each person has a different gift… if the best we respect those gifts. Not getting in debates if something does work for other people. I do not believe Jesus would call anyone a thug. He would call them his people with different ways to reach. But, Jesus would give the right way to reach other people. Tony, I hope you will start practicing your preaches from the gospels as you share your thoughts as you go rather than focusing on the world views. Hugs might have an idea… but it does not give Christian’s rights to attack others as we all are to be humble somewhere. Because, I’m not with either one of you… nor I know either one of you. I’m reading Keith Walker’s comments and he is showing that he knows the gospels… and he is working with God’s truth. While, I’m reading your comments and you are speaking in world view. Didn’t the Paul tell us to focus letting go of the flesh and focus on the spiritual view in Gal 5:25?Dean "Rex" DeRusso

  35. Keith… I didn't use the word nor would I. I don't like their tactics, but I do my best to refrain from calling names… Dean "Rex"… I have NO idea what your talking about. It's hard to follow what your saying. I have no issue with the KJV (maybe you need to read my post again) I simply mentioned the people doing the yelling at the LDS conference ALSO yell at Christians. They yelled at the people hugging, but they also yell at people who hand out tracts, preach publicly, and witness to as many people as possible BECAUSE they used the NIV bible translation. They are the ones that said the NIV will send people to hell… was that not clear in my previous post? Again, I have no issues with the bible translation arguments.I never used the term thugs, and I NEVER attacked anyone… I hold a biblical worldview! Jesus and Paul spent plenty of time using a "world view" as you call it to show people Jesus is in everything. Read Acts 17… Paul used quotes from Pagen poets to reach people with the gospel! Your last stab at me not using the gospels in this forum makes no sense, and I'm not here to defend myself.Peace

  36. Tony: That’s right. I jumped in wondering more about your comments and goal. And, I don't think I knew what I was trying to do either other than get into the conversation somehow. 🙂 First of all, I am glad that you could admit that the name calling among the street protesters was not necessary and to stay away from it. It seems to me that is the whole point of the article. About KJV and NIV, your right my statement was not clear. I’m glad you caught that in a honest way. I have no problem with KJV myself. I do know that using the NIV is great tools to reaching people who trust only KJV. As a Christian, my hope is that people learn that the work is God's not ours. So, I think it's a great tool to help people see the kingdom view rather than world view. However, you responded in the way I was hoping for. The point is that the people will be yelling no matter what. Can you image the stress at that point if each group on the street? It seems to me that the LDS goals is to find ways to beak the Christians in different groups for their members to be deceived with those little sawdust that they can find to keep the logs in their members eyes. The truth is Christians should be there for one God with many gifts to use. I do know that there will be many different methods on the street. I just hope the Christian protesters don’t go against other protesters with the same goal and a different method. In the way they are helping the LDS church see two different groups. That division should not be there at that time. Image the stress going on the street knowing the others on the same street are against us and LDS. The truth is that Jesus did the same thing when people were casting out demons in his name. However, these people were not chosen by Him at the time he was here on Earth (Luke 9:49-50). Your respond about Paul was witnessing to the Pagans in Act 17. That makes me wonder who you think are the pagans in this page. I certainly hope you did not see that the responders of this page as the pagans. Rex

  37. Rex,My point about Paul was addressing your "world view" comment toward me (that I seem to be using a world view in my comments, and everyone else was spiritual)… it has nothing to do with who is pagan. I don't think anyone here is pagan.AS for the yellers… you seem to be saying two different things. They are going to be there because their witness is needed and then you seem to say, hopefully they are not yelling at other Christians to cause division… well that was my whole point earlier. They yell at EVERYONE who do not believe like them. Street preachers who wish t start honest conversations have stopped coming to the conference because of the yellers… and they got blasted for using the wrong bible translations? I'm just pointing out these guys are on the fringes and not totally sincere in their presence at the conference…. which is why we were there in the first place!

  38. Tony,It seems strange comparison “World View” and Acts 17. But, maybe you missed the point in Act 17 that Paul “reasoned with them out of the scriptures”. Paul used the scriptures. So the whole argument you have is really simple saying that the street preachers you SEE that wanted to have a honest conversation stopped coming because of the people who yell at everyone. Is that correct? Rex

  39. RexYes it's simple. andKeep reading in Acts 17 : )I only mentioned it because you criticized my use of what you called world viewPeace

  40. Tony:Did you realize that maybe the street preaching is not about coffee or donut chat where people can get the right message out there. I'm sure you agree that it is not really the time and place for coffee at all. I know Mormons aren't too found of coffee, but that's not the point. I’m not sure if these people were being honest or not. But, was God's wisdom there?Now, the question for you is what do you feel God is trying to tell you about the “street preachers you SEE that wanted to have a honest conversation stopped coming”. What would the Bible support your reflections of the whole argument you have here? Or, what the Bible will not support your reflection? Also to mention, that criticized is a strong word. I wrote you saw that I wrote “I hope”. 🙂 Back to Act 17, did you realize that Paul did not avoid the scriptures in any of his comments in Act 17 at all. He might have used other quote of the pagan. But, he never avoid the truth in the Bible. This is what I am hoping you will see. It's not about world view. We gain wisdom from God… and that wisdom comes from Him alone. It by our our knowledge and experience that that we show how God's wisdom worked in our lives. There are scriptures written in his comments such as “searched the scriptures daily.” If you want more specific, “God that made the world” and “resurrection of the dead.” Those two are very important to our OT and NT aren't they? Paul spoke in worldly wisdoms but he never went without God's wisdom in his statement. Would you agree with me on that? Rex

  41. Tony said, "Keith… I didn't use the word nor would I.I don't like their tactics, but I do my best to refrain from calling names…I appreciate that, but it does not answer my question. The question is, "Do you think it is right to call your brothers in the Lord, 'Thugs?'"I am looking for a specific answer because I do not want to be accused of putting words in your mouth. Do you think it is right to call your brothers in the Lord, "Thugs?"

  42. Keith, I'm not going to speak of whats right or wrong in this case for others. Jesus had strong words for "brothers" who thought they had God all figured out and wrapped in a nice box that scolded others who didn't… "broad of vipers", "fools", "hypocrites",etc. If these men bully everyone with their words including other believers there to preach the gospel because of a bible translation, maybe the shoe fits? But, that doesn't mean everyone with a sign should wear the shoe, and that is all you should need from me to continue the conversation : )Rex… I still have no idea where you are trying to go. Nobody has avoided biblical reflections or concepts, nor did I imply Paul did! My comments (when necessary) are full of God's wisdom, frankly I don't separate sacred/secular as you do. If its true, its God's wisdom… Period. I believe I'm speaking truth or I wouldn't speak it: )Ok, I'm not interested in defending myself when the charges make no sense. So…Kevin we can continue as is…

  43. Tony,Sorry for the delay. Busy weekend and I've been keeping up with comments from my latest YouTube video.Tony said, "Keith, I'm not going to speak of whats right or wrong in this case for others."You seem to have forgotten one little detail. I am glad that you choose not to call your brother's names, but I am perplexed as to why you would join a campaign which has the "marching orders" of "HUGS not THUGS" as Charles put it in his blog. That same phrase was repeated in numerous articles reporting on your outreach. Regardless of whether you use those words or not, you are identified with them because you were part of the campaign. I know why you don't want to answer my question for other people. If you say that it is proper to call your brother a "THUG," then you have no leg to stand on when it comes to the street preachers use of their choice terms. On the other hand, if you admit that calling your brother a "THUG" is improper, you then implicate your pastor and cast a negative shadow over the whole outreach. I do not envy your position.Tony said, "Jesus had strong words for "brothers" who thought they had God all figured out and wrapped in a nice box that scolded others who didn't… "broad of vipers", "fools", "hypocrites",etc."The street preachers would agree with this. That is why they do what they do.Tony said, "If these men bully everyone with their words including other believers there to preach the gospel because of a bible translation, maybe the shoe fits? But, that doesn't mean everyone with a sign should wear the shoe, and that is all you should need from me to continue the conversation : )"Whether the shoe fits or not is irrelevant. My question is, why respond in kind by publicly calling them "THUGS?" This whole false dichotomy outreach has done more damage to the cause of Christ than you realize. Again, from the Mormon perspective, if you aren't hugging, you are a "Thug." That needs to be corrected. You may disagree with my assessment of what the LDS think, but please take into consideration that you did not catch their flack. WE did.I love the comment posted by one of our anonymous posters.John 13:35 — 'By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.'The irony here of Charles & company using this verse is that it seems directly about love between Christians. To try to fulfill John 13:35 by showing some kind of love toward Mormons by reviling and slandering brothers in Christ … is ironically to violate the very thing he is trying to fulfill."

  44. I disagree with your false dichotomy statements and others…. so we will have to agree to disagree and move on. God Bless in your ministry.Peace

  45. Hi Keith I have known about your minstry with your Wife Becky for a long time. She was my vocal teacher at Palo Alto College. If you can tell her that I went into writing ministry and that I have grown in my relationship alot it would mean alot to me and probably her. I am publishing a book later this year and 3 children books for the Lord in the next couple.Michael WilkinsonAs for the conversation..There are two infastructures seem of doing something not of GOD and something of GOD. Yelling at someone's flesh works when they are being a scoffer in relationship. But it is also not good to argue a scoffer so it is best to stick to this method on the rarest of occasions.It depends if they are being an active or passive scoffer in relationship. The kingdom of heaven is built on relationship. It must come with wisdom and not a common tactic of GOD. So are random hugs on the street. I'd prefer the second any day. The keys to freedom is that of GOD culture is established through relationship culture with Jesus. If we do not know how to break the bondage then we will not free the person. We must be patient and being quiet as GOD is quiet is not a bad thing. We are not to be condesending people but a humble believer in all things of GOD. We correct and admonish in the right season. We work in the power of the Holy Spirit to free people from bondage and interaction with the LORD is what we need for this.. As we grow in discernment of what is of God and not of GOD we can build relationship in a prophetic way that we can yell at each passer by in the way they need it and lead them to the LORD. The question is this how GOD operates? He will do what is best to bring to most to him in whatever condition they in. Of course yelling is like an explosive you don't use it as the main tool in your toolbox. Different opportunities and places in our relationship require different things of wisdom. God Bless Your Ministry.But becky can contact me on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MichaelWilkinson123 Or at My Blog Freeencouragement.org

  46. Alright here we go. I just came across this post this evening, and have thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. Let me just go ahead and make the statement that I am a fellow "hugger". I was there at General Conference with One Community Church, and was probably one of the most active huggers there. Alot of the discussion has been based on one-line zingers, and finding scripture to back up any and every argument, many in context and many out of context (on both sides.)I agree with both sides, honestly, and while that may seem contradictory to everything presented, follow me here. All of us care deeply for those far from Christ, and would be willing to do whatever it takes to help them cross over from death to true life in Jesus Christ.We are are all flawed human beings, saved by grace, and we all use the example of Jesus to support why we do ministry the way we do, we also find evidence for both sides in the Bible. At times Jesus was bold, and very direct in His dealings, other times he was loving and compassionate. The thing is he was God incarnate. He knew the exact right thing to say to every single person he encountered, at every single moment of his 33 years on earth. Unfortunately we do not have that luxury. Was every person He encountered compelled to salvation by intense preaching, hard truths and overturning of tables alone? How about the simple acts of unconditional love that earned Him the sarcastic title of "friend of sinners" from the religious crowd? Was that all it took to see people come to a real, life-changing encounter and surrender of their life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? No.What am i trying to say? Simply that here we are flawed people, saved by grace, desperately trying any method/means to reach people who are desperately lost. Have any of us gotten it completely right? No. We're not Jesus.I would like to thank you for your observations on our outreach attempt, and I take them to heart. Please also know that some of these conversations have been had inside our staff conversations, and we have already been dialoguing about how to more effectively perform this outreach in the future. This was our first effort, and was partly trial and error.

  47. As for the big question of is it alright to call other Christian brothers "thugs"… this answer is OBVIOUS!NO! It's not ok, not cool, and wreaks of arrogance, pride, and self-righteousness. I apologize on behalf of my team, that no one has simply acknowledged that fact, or made any attempt at reconciliation for even just that one item of contention alone. Make no mistake, we do not make apologies for how God has called us to minister, just as you should not have to defend/apologize for how God has called you to minister (that is between our respective ministries and the Lord) but name calling is not appropriate in any venue regardless. So far, both sides are equally guilty in that race though, so can we call it even and move on?I've done my share of street preaching in the past and have had the opportunity as a result see some come to faith, and I fully recognize the power that the Word of God has in any situation, far beyond anything we can control, including the messenger! :-)Intentionally drowning out another street preacher was NOT what we came to do, and when that surfaced we did put a stop to it. Passion runs high sometimes and people can become misguided even with the best of intentions. Again I apologize, that was not part of the plan.To give a little more insight perhaps on why many of our people were not having conversations attached with their hugs it was simply this. We are a very new church, with some very new Christians, (Some that would not know the difference between Habakkuk and Mark, but know that the power of God has forever changed their lives, and are just beginning their faith journey.) Can you imagine throwing one of those people into a conversation with a fully indoctrinated Mormon about faith? That would be a disaster! Hence we coached them that when asked why they were offering free hugs with no stings attached, they could simply say, "We just wanted to show you the love of Christ." Which is accurate. Not everyone is fully equipped to be a street evangelist.As part of our discipleship process we do teach our people to be missionaries in their workplace, to their families, and throughout their everyday life…"to be living EVERYDAY ON MISSION". That can be a very scary challenge to new believers and long-time believers alike. Something as simple as giving a hug to a random stranger that doesn't believe what you believe, and would more than likely reject you is a huge fear to overcome, but if you were to overcome that fear, how much easier would it be to share with your co-worker about your relationship with God because you can look back and say if I can do that, I can do this? It's fuel for the future.Was the hug alone going to save anybody from hell? Absolutely not. But we never made that claim. Would it change someone's perspective about Christ-followers? Maybe. But even if not, who couldn't use a hug after being yelled at? To me that falls under the Matthew 10:42 principle, which is still valid ministry…"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.""We very honestly were excited to see the number of people turn out just to give free hugs. For some it was the boldest they've ever been about their faith in public EVER! No we weren't preaching the Gospel in word, but in deed. That we celebrate. Is the hug the end-all? Absolutely not! But is the launching pad for a larger ministry in the future.I would ask that instead on continuously ripping on what was missing (though a few things admittedly were), celebrate the fact that everyday ordinary people are answering the call of Christ to be His hands and feet, are trying to make a difference in their city in whatever way they can TODAY (not waiting until they have received all of the "proper training"), and are willing to step out of their comfort zone all for the cause of Christ!

  48. Great post, Keith!

  49. I’m so curious what exactly you are preaching and what you believe you are saving the Mormons from? As a Mormon who has friends that attend your church I am constantly being asked questions about an Anti-Mormon church service given at your church. Why so many false statements. We are Christian are we do believe in the Bible (we follow the King James Version). The gospel that you claim that we have never heard is our religion, but we believe we have the fullness of the gospel. My parents are both converts to the church (my father was Baptist, my mother was Lutheran). My extended family are not members of the church. I attend these churches with my relatives from time to time. At the service there is not a lot that I would dispute. If someone is converting to our church from another Christian religion they will find that they are not unlearning the things that they learned in their previous religion, but enriching the knowledge that they already have. I am not angry by these sites; I know you are doing what you think is right. My only frustration is when what is written or taught is not true. Trust me when I say someone who is a devout Mormon will know there religion much better then another religion preaching against it. I think it is wonderful that so many people attend your church, don’t waste that time talking about other religions. Use that precious time to focus on Christ. Best of luck to you- Nicole

  50. Nicole,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I know it took courage for you to speak up and I appreciate that. In fact, I admire that.

    I’d love to answer your questions, but would rather answer them through your private email as your questions are unrelated to this particular blog post.

    One quick thing about the event though. I will be using official LDS Church manuals and sources in my presentation to distinguish the differences between our faiths. It does me no good to misrepresent Mormonism. I’ll explain more later in my private email.

    Thanks again and I look forward to a constructive conversation.

  51. That was very sly to put your card in a package of tissues, wrap with fabric ribbon to look like a gift, and hand them out to those attending Women’s Relief Society General Conference at the corner across the Conference center in Salt Lake City. So kind to give tissues for our sniffles, we thank you. As for the card, it was like getting a razor blade in an apple at Halloween for a treat.
    I am baffled that a group of so called Christians would put all of their resources and energies into tearing down another religion, singling out one or two, in this case, the Mormon Church, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I admit it is much nicer to hand out tissue gifts with your cards than to yell slams to beliefs and hold up signs calling our prophet a liar. However, I’m very disturbed to see the extent of your ministry to pick apart and twist every single belief that we hold dear. There is no respect in that!
    If you truly believe in following Jesus Christ, why don’t you use your resources, time and energy in humanitarian efforts to help the poor and needy, the sick, those who suffer addictions or abuse? Why don’t you proclaim your positive message about Jesus Christ and what YOUR beliefs are, and help your own Church, supposedly Jesus Christ’s church, to thrive and grow? Your whole “faith” is based on tearing down another, instead of building your own!
    Jesus taught at the Sermon on the Mount: “whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”. Would you like anyone to come stand at your places of worship and pass out tracts or signs undermining your beliefs? Would you like hosts of websites, books, dvds produced with the dedicated purpose of bringing down your specific beliefs? Instead of trying to peck the mote out of your brothers’ eyes, pull the beam out of your own! Then get busy and really live as a Christian, going about doing good! Teach by example! Truly follow Jesus Christ’s ways.

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