In the evangelization realm of conservative Christianity there is a tract that has, over time risen to the status of ‘icon’. It is the one that takes the seeking soul on a journey down the Roman’s Road. This simple five verse presentation of ‘The Gospel’ is the most utilized by Christians who desire to bring others into the fold of their faith. The website, ‘forthegospel.org’ gives the following encouragement.
“The ‘Romans Road‘ can be a fantastic tool for learning, retaining, practicing and then sharing the gospel. This “journey” through the gospel message comes straight from the letter of Romans and allows a believer to easily turn to passages of Scripture if sitting with someone who needs to hear the gospel, or to remember passages that highlight the foundational elements of the gospel.”
Roman’s 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” The Christian who quotes or reads this verse has already been taught several concepts that their religion calls ‘the fundamentals of the faith’ or the basic teachings, core principles which are ‘set in stone’ and not to be questioned. Such things as the actual reality of a creator deity who is the one and only true, existing God, the Bible is a divine book that this God has chosen to infuse all the divine knowledge we require for “faith and practice”, the record of history is that of God’s continued attempts at bring mankind into a loving relationship with him and that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God who was God’s final attempt to “bringing many sons unto glory” according to Hebrews 2:10.
The person hearing this verse has not been taught any of this or perhaps has heard snippets of the concepts in Sunday School. The article says this, “The word “gospel” literally means good news! The reason it’s good news is that there is bad news. Why would anyone ever believe they need to hear the gospel or believe the gospel unless they understood their need for the gospel?”
There are two serious concerns with this teaching. The first is that it is an example of utilizing a sales tactic that is deceptive and misleading. When I was working in sales positions my first job was to convince the client that he/she ‘needed’ the service I was providing. I was taught to ‘say what I needed to say’ in order to get their business. By believing that the Bible is ‘all true’ because it’s ‘the very words of God’ allows the Christian to assume the truth of all verses and teach them as such. This is contrary to logic and cognitive reasoning. This building of teachings on assumption is best illustrated by the cliche’. “God said it, I believe it and that settles it for me.”
The second issue is that they are not being true to their own methods of interpretation. They are reading into the text by adding their assumptive beliefs and ignoring the process of getting the ‘big picture’ of what the Bible says on any given topic. According to chapter one, verse 18, the “wrath of God” is revealed against everyone. When Christians ‘give out the gospel’ they do not speak of the many times thousands were murdered by God or God’s chosen people just because they were getting in the way of God’s plan for Israel. When you talk to Christians about these events they seek to rationalize by saying those people were “wicked sinners before the Lord”. This defence is contrary to many verses that describe God as loving unconditionally.
The other ‘stops’ on the ‘Roman’s Road’ are as follows.
Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” [If God loved us, why did he send someone else to do the ‘dirty work’?]
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” [the Christian witness is directed to discuss a literal heaven and literal hell. Some Christians refrain from speaking about ‘eternal torment’ because it may scare the seeker but many churches would make sure to use this ‘fear factor’ to scare people into “getting saved” because of the verse that says, “and some save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” (Jude 1:23) It is easy to see how the theologians come up with their teachings as they read and study the writings of the Apostles but the guilt trip and the traumatizing of young people is deplorable.]
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now, no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” [this is where the Christian begins to depart from their own rules of Bible study. They start adding concepts from other verses which may or may not relate to the Romans passage. They tell a person what it means to be “in Christ” and how to get to be “in Christ”. Stating such things as believing in the substitutionary death of Jesus and the resurrection on the third day will ‘save’ you from going to Hell, of course not mentioning that most of their friends and family will end up being tortured in Hell forever since only a remnant will find the “straight gate and narrow way”]
[As a side note, a casual reading of the verse shows that being free from condemnation is not for all that believe but for those who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” and there are several clear passages that say that walking after the Spirit is not an automatic thing but must be ‘worked at’. most of the epistles are sermons of correction and warnings to stop fleshly activities and attitudes)
Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” [the context concerns both righteousness and salvation. To avoid condemnation, according to this verse a person must (1) agree that Jesus is the Lord (Lord means master, not deity) and (2) believe in thine heart (an inner ‘knowing’) that God hath raised him from the dead. The sincere seeker of the divine is left to assume that Jesus is God even though the verse clearly states that the man, Jesus was ‘raised from the dead’ by an act of God. and there are many clear statements to this effect in the Bible.]
It is sad that there are so many children being led into ‘the faith’ that do not even understand the concept of ‘believing’. They cannot say if they really do believe these things but when the Christian evangelist continues to show them verses to supposedly support their conversion, all the while smiling and making positive remarks, they assume that they must be saved. Then they are given a list of things they must now do in order to be blessed by God, countering unconditional love once again. Burdens are now place on them so that the institution of the church can function. This is contrary to the vision of Jesus the Christ who began a grassroots movement of “love thy neighbor as thyself”.
Evangelizing with the ‘Roman’s Road gospel is not what Jesus meant when he said “Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all nations or when he said “go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Ghost teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20) Understand the Bible the way it was meant to be interpreted. “Intuitive Bible Study– A New Interpretive Model” is available on Amazon.ca