Today I am going to talk publicly for the first time about an awful personal experience that occured over two years ago at a Christian conference in Denmark. It was the day I incurred the wrath of the Pentecostal movement in Denmark for witnessing to some people at their annual conference. What triggered my decision to speak publicly was when I recently found out that the man who banned me from the 2008 Pentecostal conference in Denmark (Pinse Camp in Danish) - because I was sharing the Gospel - is the same man who has recently labelled one of my closest friends as a "modern day pharisee" (there is some conjecture that he actually gave that label to the whole evangelism ministry I am a part of). Well how about that! I was under the strange impression that one of the hallmarks of acting like a pharisee is sabotaging the preaching of the Gospel . . .
And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. . . So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:1-3,18)
The man in question is Lars Due Christensen who is a high ranking Pentecostal pastor in Denmark and is also an influential voice in the wider Danish evangelical landscape. It would seem that playing the Pharisee card is a useful option for a church leader who needs to deal with a problematic church goer - especially the problem of those who dare to ask theological questions or preach the Gospel based on what Scripture says. Christensen's Pharisee comment (which he claimed was the general consensus of his peers) resulted in a close friend of mine being banished from the pulpit of his home fellowship. With ramifications like that, you would expect a pastor to provide some biblical basis for such a strong allegation. But no, the Pharisee card has diplomatic immunity. The Pharisee card demolishes all objections in it's path. The Pharisee card absolves the prosecutor of any responsibility to substantiate his claims. The Pharisee card is the emergency off ramp from the hermeneutical highway. The Pharisee card is the steadfast friend of the biblically incompetent pastor.
After almost four years of living amidst the catastrophe otherwise known as "Danish Christianity" I can no longer remain silent. What follows is my account of the day Lars Due Christensen had me evicted from the 2008 Pentecostal Conference in Denmark! It would seem that I committed the unpardonable sin of the annual Pentecostal summer conference - preaching the Gospel where it never gets preached - at the annual Pentecostal summer conference! I think it is time to set the record straight. When friends of mine cut all correspondence with me without ever giving a reason or even talking to me, when a fellow evangelist nearly has a speaking engagement cancelled because he is friends with me, and when I keep learning shocking truths about myself through third parties - then it is time for me to recount the events of July 14th 2008 as they actually happened.
Monday the 14th of July 2008, my family and I travelled to the small town of Mariager to visit some friends who live there. It just so happened that the annual Pentecostal summer conference was happening at the same time. We saw that there were meetings being held there during the evening and decided to go and hear the speaker who was from England (I always like to take the opportunity to listen to messages in English). The sermon was something along the lines of Foxes Book of Emergents With Hurt Feelings and ended with an "inverse altar call". What do I mean by "inverse altar call"? It is an altar call where, instead of people coming forward under conviction of sin in order to repent before God, hurting and victimized people were called forward to get a big cosmic hug. You can tell a lot about the gospel a man preaches by how he portrays mankind. Are we victims in need of therapy or sinners who need to repent. Undoubtedly, some people are victims, but unless the victim sees his personal guilt that is transcendent over his misfortune, he will never comprehend a cross meant for criminals that was substituted with a Savior. The whole experience was all so lame and pathetic that I went out into the pleasant night air of the Danish summer. What I witnessed outside, looking around the conference grounds, was a large smattering of teenagers and young adults enjoying the wide variety of entertainment being provided for them on site.
I stood in line to buy some candy and satisfy my sugar habit. I usually carry tracts and talk to strangers wherever I go and standing in line was no different. I had some optical illusion tracts in my pocket and offered one to the guy behind me. He showed it to his friends and they came to me wanting one of the tracts. More and more people started to gather around asking me for these tracts. I decided to tell them that they had to let me ask them 2 questions before I gave them each a tract. The first question was – if I wasn’t a Christian tell me why I should become one? By this point there was maybe 20 or more people gathered around me and none of them were able to give an answer to this question. It is important to remember that the day will come when we will answer to God for the things we say and the things we are silent about. If someone who professes Christ cannot give a good reason why someone should become a Christian it should raise a serious question as to whether that person understands the message of the Christian Gospel.
The second question I asked them was – if I had three minutes to live and I wanted to know how to get to heaven what would you say to me? Again no one could answer this question. At this point I was grieved in my spirit and longed to tell them about the Cross of Jesus Christ. These were not difficult questions about transubstantiation or ecclesiology. This was basic level Christianity and these youth were completely out of their depth. I longed to share the Gospel with them and I did. CJ Mahaney says that we should preach the Gospel to ourselves every day and I am a firm believer that you can never hear the story too many times. Furthermore, I told the people nothing outside of normal historical Pentecostal doctrine. Pretty much similar content to what was on the tract. By this point even more people had gathered around. I told them about the Holiness of God, and then about the sinfulness of mankind and how we have all broken God’s commandments, then I spoke about how the day is coming when everyone will be judged by God and that our greatest need will be righteousness on that day, then I spoke about what Jesus did for sinners by fulfilling the law that they had broken and then by taking the Father's wrath that they deserve as a substitute on the cross. That the good news of the Gospel is about how the wonderful Savior took the sins of the sinner upon Himself and imputed His perfect righteousness to the sinners account that we can have pardon from sin, and righteousness before God. I finally shared how God now calls all people everywhere to repent of their sinful ways and trust in Jesus Christ alone to save them from the wrath that they deserve.
I stopped speaking and stood there expecting everyone to leave. Some people applauded and others were weeping under conviction but no one left. Several of them asked me to continue - this was not planned and noone was being held against their will. With all the other entertainment going on around them they were free to leave but they were hungry to hear more. How dull and pathetic worldly entertainment is when compared to the thrilling doctrine of imputed righteousness - especially to a group of people, many of whom were beginning to grasp their own unrighteousness.
I pleaded with them to think about these things. I told them not to just believe what I was saying but to test it according to Scripture and read one of the four Gospel’s in the Bible. I was not after their money or trying to get them to join a church. I was concerned about them and their understanding of salvation knowing I may never speak with them again. That was certainly Lars Due Christensen's desire - that I would not speak with these people again. The following day, Lars Due Christensen, who was one of the main leaders and organizing pastors at the conference had people on the lookout for me. He duly tracked me down, demanded that I leave the conference site immediately or security would provide personal assistance in finding the exit. In fairness to Lars Due, he should have been concerned - I could have been a Mormon! But he was in no mood for conversation. I asked him to give a reason for the eviction and he wouldn't give me one. I showed him one of the tracts I had been handing out and asked him if he objected to any part of the message contained therein - again he wouldn't answer. I asked him what I had done wrong - you guessed it, no answer. Just prior to my hasty departure I was given the obscure remark that I had confused the people I talked to but no further explanation on what he meant by this.
Some of the readers may consider the possibility that I am only giving my skewed perspective of a tense situation. Well this is how I later recounted the events to Lars Due via e-mail, a version of events that he never even questioned (except for our farewell conversation - I have a recording of that instead). But in the days, weeks, and months that followed, I easily noticed that my popularity had declined to the level of a pork chop in a Synagogue. Nothing was said to me directly, but the silence was deafening. The saga will continue on Monday . . .
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