I know that there are different degrees and convictions Christians have as far as their methods go in evangelism and ministry, and I know that none of us has the full picture, but what is it that seems to be missing.
One thing I figured out, was that this group that I don't understand is made up of Pelgian believers. By Pelagian, I mean that they hold to the doctrine of Pelagius, an opposer of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Pelagians do not have the same doctrine of sin as the Reformed Calvinist does. Pelagians believe that people are not born with sinful hearts. People choose to sin verses people being born in sin, being slaves to sin. This matters greatly for if people choose to sin, then they can choose to not sin as well. Whether we sin or not, it is totally our choice.
Another thing I have noticed in these people is a lack of understanding God's love. I'm sure they believe it exists, because it is in the Bible, but they will not teach on it, primarily because if God loves us, then we can do whatever we want and still go to heaven. What does the Bible say? Should we sin more so we can receive more of God's grace? God forbid.
There also is a lack of understanding of the incarnation of Christ. The Bible tells us that 'He (Jesus) became sin, who knew no sin...', yet, I think I hear these people making sure that God and sin are always separated. Yes, I agree, God cannot be where sin is. It is impossible and He has no choice but to punish it. That is exactly why He sent His Son to die for us. Not only did He die for us, He became sin (the most repulsive thing to God) for us. He didn't just go near sin, He became it.
God went through a lot of trouble and sacrifice to send His only Son to us so that we could be forgiven and set free from sin. It's not like God resenting saving us, nor is it hard for God to save us. What we forget so easily is that God delights to save us. He is glorified in our salvation. There is a reference to God as being called, 'The Hound of Heaven' as He goes after us to find us and save us. Oh, that's right, this is Calvinism at its finest. You won't hear that from Pelagian preachers. They will tell you that God hates your sin, and imply that God hates you as well, unless you repent (notice how much emphasis is put on what 'you' do).
Here is a verse that Pelagians might not be familiar with:
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I listened to one of the preachers who critiqued Casting Crown's song, 'Jesus Friend of Sinners'. I love the song, although it is not 100% doctrinally correct, I'm sure. I found this message interesting as the preacher explained things from a limited perspective rather than seeing the whole picture. For example, he believes that a Christian should just preach open air. No object lessons needed. Jesus never used them. But if you read the Scriptures, Jesus always used object lessons. This man talked about the word 'boldness' meaning harshness. He went on to use Jesus' communication with the Scribes and Pharisees as an example of how we should communicate with people. He further used this example of indicating that Jesus wasn't a friend of sinners because of the way Jesus treated the Pharisees. The preacher missed the boat. There is a big difference in the way Jesus treated the Pharisees and the way He treated everyone else. In fact, the religious leaders of Jesus' day are going to be judged worse than Tyre and Sidon. But Jesus continued to serve the everyday people, up until He was crucified by them.
The verses in James where James says to the people he is addressing, 'Do not be friends with the world. Whoever is a friend of the world is the enemy of God'. This is easy to understand. But this preacher explained that this type of friendship is the same type of friendship that Jesus had with sinners (according to Casting Crowns). Jesus really was a friend of sinners. At the same time, He never participated in their sins, nor were they His closest friends.
I have a variety of relationships with people at different levels. Some people I am very close to. Others are more of acquaintance type relationships. I can be friends with sinful people, but I am not going to participate in their sinful activities. People in the world build relationships with others because it benefits them. But, in the kingdom of God, there is a bigger picture of friendships. We develop friendships with people because we are going to bring Christ to them. If we have any other goal than that one, we need to check our hearts and let God show us our motives. We are not our own anymore. But God has given us new hearts, and new desires, and new goals.
Yes, Jesus was a friend of sinners. Yes, God loves us and wants us to be saved. Yes, we are to hate sin and not participate in it thinking its ok to, because God is all-forgiving.
Finally, there is a verse in the song that says, '...the sword is not ours to wield...'. We are to use the sword as a weapon in our spiritual warfare against the devil, the flesh, and the world. If we are not careful, we can do great harm by using the word of God against people. The sword is a powerful weapon and it is ours to use properly. We have no right bullying people around with the word of God. But, they believe that they have the right to do this. They come down hard on people. Do they not realize that they are the outcast? They were the lost cause? When they see that woman wearing a short skirt and outright call her a bad name, does that represent God well? (This actually happened on a college campus).
It's like a vicious cycle. Any of us can fall into it if we are not careful. Pelagians do not see themselves as people deliberately sinning, so they are not going to check for pride in their hearts because they don't think its there. That means they can pick the specks out of people's eyes, but totally deny any logs in their own eyes. How sad that is.