I say “A” rather than “The” because there are other swings I’m sure we could look at, but this one is about “winning” souls, and what that might mean in Kingdom terms.
The pendulum I refer to is the Giant one that swings from “Fear” to “Love.” Over the ages the church has preached both to win converts, and cited quotes from the Bible, which certainly contains much of both. One might point to the Old Testament as a book of fear, especially the “fear of God” doctrine.
Then one might point to the New Testament as a book of love, especially the “love of God” doctrine. Obviously this is too simplistic, but it illustrates the point of the pendulum in doctrines. I think we should all agree we need both, because I don’t know how to eliminate one without peril. ☺
Fear of Hell, “going” to hell, being “lost,” and somewhat more gentle the urging to “get saved” are all connected to the reality of sin in our lives, the Great Fall of man, etc. Fear is easy to develop, even without Scripture to help, but all the more easy with it!
Love, at the other end of the arc of the pendulum, is very attractive, enticing, even compelling in a way fear is not. It contains the concept of Blessing, and appeals to our desire of not only being saved, but also enhanced, enriched, able to live “better” somehow. Blessed is far better than cursed, after all.
When the pendulum swings to the fear side, with all the truths of God the Puritans and holiness preachers teach, quite rightly, many seem to be “won” to the faith. Whether transformation is happening or not I don’t know, but confessions and baptisms are happening so the scribes of church accounting offices are kept busy and the tithes boxes are fuller.
When the pendulum swings to the love side, when all the truths of the promises of God are emphasized with glorious music, big screen projections, staging that rivals any professional show and a message of forgiveness that includes everyone, complete with ecstatic emotional responses, again I wonder about transformation, although the claimants of salvation increase.
On the fear side we may find people memorizing Scripture to quote to every possible occurrence in life while dressing up in the armor of God, while the love people are dancing in the Spirit and prophesying to any and all, quoting the Blessings of God instead of the Biblical obedience-to-God passages.
Can you see how we swing back and forth, almost rhythmically? Some of us moving to the one side, others to the other side, passing each other as we “discover” one another’s different understanding, all the while trying to understand the truth!
But I continue to ask the question, “Is anyone being transformed?” Are hearts being changed? Are the clothes of the old man being shed and the clothes of the new man being put on? Is there a difference in us? My prayer as a shepherd is for the protection of the sheep, of course, but even more for the LIVES of the sheep! That they may be those who manifest Christ, in all His Ways, to the Glory of God! “Change my heart, O God, make it ever new. Change my heart O God, may it be like YOU.” Amen.