Evangelicals preach to drunken frat partiers at Vanderbilt

I am offering this free of any personal observations.  I am not endorsing or condemning the evangelicals involved.  From a Mormon perspective, I just found this video fascinating.  A couple of evangelicals drove past several frat parties at Vanderbilt University over the weekend.  They then preached to the partiers.   Among the comments made by the evangelicals:  “No drunkard will go to heaven.”  “Women, put on some clothes.”  As you may imagine, some harsh words were directed back at the evangelicals.  Take a look.  I really would prefer charitable comments be left here.  I am not interested in comments condemning the evangelicals or the drunkards involved.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

17 thoughts on “Evangelicals preach to drunken frat partiers at Vanderbilt

  1. Thanks for posting this Geoff. Modern day Samuel the Lamanite. The Book of Mormon and the Bible is full of preaching to the wicked, and I always wondered why Mormons don’t seem to do it like the prophets of old. I never did that on my mission. I only talked to people one on one.

    It looks kind of fun to do. I think that preaching must be a real art. There can be a kind of rapturous charisma in calling people to repentance, letting Biblical phrases roll off your tongue one after another. And I always get a kind of thrill just listening to someone call me to repentance, even if it’s a crazy man on the street, this strange paradox of God using the foolish and despised to thrash the nations with the power of his spirit.

    I do wish there was a little more preaching in our own church. There is nothing more powerful than when our stake president gets up and truly calls us to repentance in the power of the spirit. Because we DO need to repent, all the time. We desperately need repentance, but it seems we are afraid to say it, afraid to preach or offend. I think it can be done with love, but also with strength, harshness mixed with hope.

  2. I admire Evangelicals for their singleness of purpose and how they are more afraid of G-d than of man. Having said that, Vanderbilt is a beautiful campus, and there are many wonderful students who attend school there. I especially appreciate the Vanderbilt Chinese students. They have been very good to my daughter Hong Mei.

  3. Nate’s comment and the video reminded me of Mosiah 18:20, “they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord” and D&C 6:9, “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation.” See also Mosiah 25:22, Helaman 13:6 and D&C 11:9.

  4. Preaching is definitely putting yourself, your church and your beliefs out there for others to ridicule. They may have reached one or two but I always wonder about the effectiveness of it all. It seemed like a ‘last ditch effort’ for Samuel the Lamanite. Here it seems different than that. I knew as a missionary it was less effective than knocking doors.

    I would also say that a Stake President or Area President that gets up to a ‘flock’ that comes willingly to listen with open hearts and minds hearing the sword of truth and repentance is drastically different than putting a megaphone on and forcing yourself onto college students at the worst possible time.That being said, that preacher’s message may be the only one one of those kids may ever hear a call to repentance and maybe it didn’t even occur to him/her that what they were doing was less than pleasing in the eyes of their maker.

  5. Nate, thanks for your comment. I agree. I love being invite to repent, especially when it is done directly, straightforwardly, and by a humble servant of God. I think we do sometimes “pat on the back” more often and teach repentance less often, at least partly because we are afraid of offending. But if we teach and invite with love, people will respond to that.

    We ALL need to repent. All of us. Every day. For many, many things. Let’s stop being offended when we’re told that. Because it’s true. And let’s stop being afraid to remind others of that.

  6. Thanks, Geoff! =)

    Also, in clarification I was thinking how annoying it would be if liberals kept calling conservatives to repentance, and vice versa, and if people called others to repent of their nose-picking habits, and etc., etc. I think what I’m referring to is when authorized servants of God call others to repentance in a message authorized from God. That’s what I’m talking about.

    In that way, these individuals didn’t have divine authority, and so it wasn’t quite the same. However, their message (although worded differently than I might have worded it) was one of invitation to Christ and clean living, so that is appreciated. And to that extent, I rather loved it.

  7. We’d do street preaches every Saturday as missionaries–we’d gather as a district (sometimes a zone) in the middle of town where cars are not allowed and where everyone goes to do their shopping, and we’d sing hymns, preach, and street contact. It was actually far more effective than doors. We didn’t actually do much if any direct calling to repentance, though, at least not while we were street preaching.

    I wonder, though, why the Evangelicals preached to people that were drunk. Wouldn’t it be more effective to preach to them on campus during the day? Sure, it might not make as great of a story to tell to their Evangelical friends, but I think it would be less confrontational and more effective. And the “No drunkard will go to heaven” bit seems pretty silly. The Evangelicals may have meant well, but I don’t think this method is effective.

  8. I think that calling people to repentance is most effective when it is NOT street preaching. In order for calling someone to repentance to actually be effective, the Spirit has to be there to testify. The chances of the Spirit being there at such a time as the one in the OP is practically nonexistent.

    This may sound harsh, but I think that this type of street preaching is more to serve the consciences of the preachers than it is to help the preach-ees.

    I far prefer preaching quietly, a little at a time, as I interact with my friends and family. As ldsphilosopher points out, being called to repentance under the direction and oversight of the Spirit is a beautiful, bonding, and often non-argumentative experience. Most people who call others to repentance effectively don’t “preach” and when called to repentance effectively, don’t even realize that is what has happened.

  9. I tend to agree with all that was written here so far, even the comments that contradict each other! Personally, I don’t think street preaching is effective, but I also kind of like the idea of preaching to those who need it most. I was in the same place spiritually as the drunkards portrayed here at one time, and street preaching would have done nothing for me. But I have to say it might have pricked my conscience just a tiny bit. I also agree completely that it is the Spirit that brings change, so ushering in the Spirit through one-on-one conversations (when not drunk) is the best way to effect change.

  10. I just wish to point out that the men and women who stand outside Temple Square in SLC during general conference are doing the same thing as these evangelicals at Vanderbilt. They think LDS need to “repent” and come to their concept of Jesus, etc. In fact, many of them probably think the souls of LDS are in greater danger than the souls of these college students. These believers will tell you they’re are “preaching,” proclaiming the word of deity. From what I’ve seen, most LDS are (understandably) offended by their antics, and call them “protesters” or worse.

    I get that for some here, there’s a difference between evangelicals directing these activities against “real sinners” vs. faithful LDS. That said, I think there’s great wisdom in the LDS church’s tradition of avoiding the sort of “preaching” that these videos depict.

  11. From the old purple missionary guide I’d say it was “less effective”. I get it, preach repentance, but honestly what good is going to a drunk frat party going to do? Go the next day when they’re feeling their hangovers. I guarantee more humility and willingness to listen.

  12. Nick, while I don’t agree with or like their (the anti-mormons at Temple Square) message, I don’t mind the fact that they do what they do. Reaching people in public places using reason and persuasion (although they are awfully unpersuasive in the way they present their message) is a far better outlet for trying to change the world than many other options.

  13. It made me very uncomfortable to watch this video. There’s something about this style of preaching that profanes the name of the Lord in a way I can’t put into words. Not so much that it’s casting pearls before swine (though there’s an element of this), but swinging the Savior’s name around like a club. There is undoubtedly a time and place for this sort of thing, but I think the Lord himself needs to declare when and where that is, and we shouldn’t take it upon ourselves. I applaud their dedication to doing what they think is right, but it feels very wrong to me. I agree with Nick’s comment.

  14. Nick and Martin have good points about the ambivalent moral standing of much street preaching, including those who preach against Mormons outside of Temple Square.

    You approach preaching from a position of confidence. You truly believe you have been called of the Lord to cry repentance, and you have His Word to back you up, and perhaps a powerful feeling of the Holy Spirit inside of you. (Jeremiah says he tried to stop preaching, but there was a fire in his bones and he could not forbear.)

    But obviously this kind of confidence in your divine call comes with pitfalls. When I was a missionary, I felt my call was to cry repentance unto the people so that they would have no excuse at judgement day. They had their chance, and they would now be ready for the burning. But my AP corrected me, saying that I should practice discernment, and if I could clearly see they weren’t interested in my message, I shouldn’t preach it just so they could “have their chance.” I should stick to talking about the weather with these people, have a little charity for their eternal souls.

    I do think that street preaching can be a legitimate way for people to show their faith in God, and that it is sometimes an acceptable sacrifice to Him, maybe even for those at Temple Square, I don’t know.

    But there is a better, higher way of preaching. This is how Jesus preached: with lots of nuance, discernment, ignoring some, lambasting others, embracing publicans and sinners, and sometimes overturning the money changer tables. Jesus did a lot of crazy stuff, but if we try to copy one of His strategies, without His same sense of discernment, we can become overbearing.

    Discernment is key if you really want to be able to preach.

  15. Sometimes preaching repentance isn’t for the sake of getting people to repent, but like Jacob in the BoM, it is to ensure that the voice of warning has been given, so that the preacher leaves a testimony and does not retain their sins.
    We do not have missionaries in Europe with the belief we’ll suddenly begin baptizing thousands there. We have missionaries as a voice of warning. Very few hear and accept the call to repent. But those few who do will be blessed that the missionaries reached them. Meanwhile, those who scoff will be like the scoffers of Noah when he built his ark.

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