Ray Comfort is an Evangelical evangelist known for his slick (and shallow) evangelism methods. In the late 1990s, I used Comfort’s training materials to train the church I was pastoring at the time to evangelize unbelievers. Comfort is also known for street preaching and publishing books attacking atheism. His claims have been thoroughly refuted by defenders of secularism and atheism.
Yesterday, Comfort wrote an article for The Christian Post criticizing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for making restitution for crimes he committed as a teenager:
After being riddled with guilt for years over his sins as a teenager, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (arguably Hollywood’s highest-paid actor) made amends. We are told that he was able to redeem himself. A video posted online shows him returning to the scene of the crime and buying up hundreds of Snickers bars, giving them to the store, and telling them to give them away to anyone who was tempted to steal.
Before making amends, he said three times in one interview that he wanted to “redeem” himself for his theft. The media loved it, saying that he was indeed “making things right.”
Is that true? Can we balance the scales of justice by doing good works? Millions would say a big “amen,” that it’s certainly the right thing to do.
Of course, Comfort rejects that notion of making restitution for past wrongs. He’s an Evangelical, after all. He preaches a gospel devoid of making things right. If God has forgiven you, that’s all that is needed. Say the right prayer, believe the right things, and you will be gloriously saved. While good works after salvation are a good idea or even expected, they play no part in your salvation.
It was evident that Dwayne Johnson wasn’t trusting in the Savior. Instead, he was trusting in his own attempt to redeem himself, something the Bible says cannot be done.
If Dwayne Johnson bought the entire store and gifted it to the owner, it wouldn’t make things right. Paying off the victim from whom we’ve stolen doesn’t work in criminal court, and it certainly won’t work on Judgment Day. If a one-time monetary payment for theft was able to satisfy God, how would we redeem ourselves for adultery, for fornication, for blasphemy, or for lying? How would we make things right for the sin of lust — which Jesus said is adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-28)?
Good works don’t cover our sins in the slightest. A multimillionaire giving $500 to a store may impress the media, but it doesn’t impress God. Any payment we try to make for sin is an abomination to Him (Proverbs 21:27). Yet millions deceive themselves by pacifying their guilty conscience with what the Bible calls “dead works” (Hebrews 6:1).
Comfort’s post makes all sorts of theological arguments for his “gospel.” Give it a read if you want to read a lot of Bible verses and be reminded that the Protestant Christian Bible can be used to prove and justify almost anything. I want to focus on Comfort’s rejection of good works and restitution. I am sure he thinks these things are a good idea, but in order to maintain his soteriological beliefs, he must reject making restitution part of human salvation.
In the comment section of the post titled Dr. David Tee Thinks Everyone Who is Not a Christian is an Atheist, ObstacleChick wrote:
Mr T really is off base if he thinks everyone who isn’t a Christian is an atheist. Tell that to my Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Jainist friends – they are not atheists. They believe in deities and other supernatural things.
Someone who commits a wrong against another person does not deserve forgiveness from the person(s) harmed just by asking. I like the Jewish model which requires that the one who offended needs to express apology and ask the victim what the VICTIM wants them to do. Then the offender must take genuine steps to atone, as per what the victim stated. The victim is under no obligation to forgive even if the offender fulfills what the victim requested.
Bingo. Jews generally believe in making restitution when wrongs are done; in making things right. Comfort divorces restitution from the Christian gospel. Believe this and thou shalt be saved! The reason for this, of course, is that Evangelicals have a dualistic worldview — the separation of body and spirit (and or soul), of physical and spiritual. Many Jews rightly believe that you cannot separate the physical from the spiritual.
I preach the gospel of restitution. I preached it when I was a Christian pastor and I continue to herald it today. Instead of mass incarceration, we need to adopt a system that promotes restitution for those who commit non-violent crimes. Instead of locking up a man who committed theft and destroying his life, allow him to keep working and pay restitution. Our legal system is focused on punishment instead of rehabilitation and restitution. We can thank Christianity, and Calvinism, in particular, for our current justice system.
Duane Johnson did a good thing. He righted a previous wrong. Instead of complimenting him for doing so, Comfort condemned him and said Johnson was headed for Hell. What are ya gonna do? Evangelicals are gonna Evangelical. Their theology keeps them from seeing that restitution is a good thing for society; far better than mouthing a prayer to the Ceiling God and going on your merry way, secure in the belief that you are saved and headed for God’s Trump Hotel in the sky.
One day, Ray Comfort and his many converts will die and stand before the throne of God. On that day, they will hear the Judge of the universe say:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
To Ray Comfort, I say this: repent and make restitution. It’s the only way you will gain entrance into God’s eternal kingdom.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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