Is this REALLY Necessary?

Answers in Genesis mockupWhile putting together this week’s Ministry Briefing (oh by the way, we release them every Friday now!) I came across a story from the CNN Belief Blog about an advertising campaign recently launched by Answers in Genesis. The campaign consists of a series of billboards in New York, San Francisco, and LosAngeles much like those seen in the picture. The text of the message sends a pretty blatant message:

To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.

Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, credits a similar campaign by American Atheists as the genesis for his billboards. When asked why he was launching the campaign, he told interviewers:

The Bible says to contend for the faith. We thought we should come up with something that would make a statement in the culture, a bold statement, and direct them to our website. We’re not against them personally. We’re not trying to attack them personally, but we do believe they’re wrong.

From an atheist’s perspective, they believe when they die, they cease to exist. And we say ‘no, you’re not going to cease to exist; you’re going to spend eternity with God or without God. And if you’re an atheist, you’re going to be spending it without God.’

Reading this, I am reminded of a group of young boys after an act of mischief, giggling and carrying on, saying things like “we showed them!” I understand that we are encouraged to contend for our faith, but scripture also teaches that we will be known as disciples of Christ by our love, and that the way we go about correcting those with false beliefs matters a great deal.

To me, this messaging smacks of a smug arrogance, not love.

There may be those who say that this billboard is the ultimate act of love, speaking truth to a wayward culture… but that is the same line that Westboro Baptist Church uses to justify their actions.

What if we called a truce on the billboard wars, and instead of developing pithy statements and clever billboards, we took the time to get to know our atheist neighbors and love them?

Seems to me that is what Jesus has called us to do.

What am I missing here? Am I wrong on this one?


About the Author: Matt Steen

I love Jesus, Theresa (my wife), the Redskins & Capitals, and am currently living in Waco, Texas where I am studying the finer points of BBQ (while working on my MDiv and MBA at Baylor University). When not studying, I serve church leaders through MinistryBriefing.com and am the Director of Connections for Harris Creek Baptist Church's Downtown Campus.

  • Vince

    Hey Matt, I agree with your point of view on this. However, I don’t think it was that wrong. Perhaps it could cause some to think and many go to their website to present their belief and have opportunity hopefully in love to hear and be presented the Truth. Yes, we need to stand, but stand in love and full of the Spirit. I do find many Christians wishing for someone to voice their position and somehow stand in midst of such opposition. May not be the best way, but don’t think it was that blatant or offensive. As you said, sharing the love and showing them the difference by the way we treat them is best.
    Your point is well taken, but let us please be careful on putting down on other Christian voices as this who are trying unless they are totally of track. I think comparing them to Westboro is a bit much. I feel the same way if someone was discrediting you as I have grown to appreciate everything you produce. Thanks for what you do!

  • Mark

    I think what you might be missing here is the context of the constant onslaught of atheist and anti-Christian propaganda in our society. The billboards by Answers in Genesis are encouraging to Christians all over the world. You also might be missing that there is only so much you can say on a billboard and that it points people to a website, which enables people to get the full gospel and more information. If the billboards cause some to consider the reasonable arguments for faith in Christ contrasted to the foolish arguments of unbelief, then it will have done some good. Perhaps you are a perfectionist and expect too much. There is nothing hateful in this. Atheism has been growing and must be address more directly in society, while we still have freedom to do so.