A Good Idea Gone Awry: Taking the Hill- Evangelism initiative at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Before you read, watch:

Now, tell me what you think of that?

Every year, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary engages in an evangelism initiative to help encourage the seminary family to take the Gospel to the lost. One of the things I most admire about my seminary is how evangelistic it is. Every semester there are many opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage in evangelism that the seminary promotes and provides resources for.

This semester, they decided to try and reach all the families that are in close proximity to the main campus in Fort Worth. This is a great idea and one that the seminary should be engaged in continually and not just once. The seminary has done a great job promoting the initiative and encouraging students to be involved. Unfortunately, I think the direction they took with the promotional material is inappropriate.

If you watched the above video, you noticed men carrying guns and a dune buggy with a mock-up of .50 caliber machine gun mounted on it. My first thought when I saw the dune buggy mounted .50 cal at a campus picnic was, “I wonder if they realize a .50 caliber machine will blow a human being apart?” My first thought was not, “Ooooh, this makes me want to go tell people about Jesus!”

One of the other images in the video that really bothered me was the final shot of the three dudes walking toward the camera toting guns. I’m all for guns and I enjoy shooting and hunting, but who ever put together this video did not really think about how it would come off. I understand the desire to motivate and call people to get involved, but they could have chosen much more appropriate imagery. In the military, firearms have only one purpose and that is to kill. Evangelism is the farthest thing from killing as it brings light and life to a dark world.

I think it is important that SWBTS continue to focus on evangelism, I only wish they would have thought through the video they made for this campaign. While the Bible does  use militaristic images (i.e. the armor of God and many Old Testament stories), I think the use of guns here was gratuitous. They could easily have gotten the point across, and even kept the name of the campaign, without resorting to images of men looking like they were on a military patrol waiting to kill something. The video would only have been made more effective if had used more shots of the neighborhoods surrounding the seminary instead of images of gun toting seminarians. Oh, and did you see any women in the video? I think a good test for the seminary to have asked themselves would have been, “Would this still look as cool if I put a couple of seminary wives with guns, on patrol, and low-crawling in there?” Women are called to evangelism too, but for some reason the seminary didn’t include any in their video (perhaps they deemed that as the line they wouldn’t cross).

In conclusion, I am not trying to be overly critical of SWBTS and I applaud their evangelism efforts. I only wish they would have thought through the promotional video a bit more before they made it. If the people who made the video  could see what those with a military background see and how the video appears to the public, they might have thought twice before they used it.

I think it’s fitting to end with a video of actual soldiers in combat and then you tell me if you still think the combative and arguably violent imagery of the above video is appropriate:

If anything, the medic in the video is a greater example of the Christian faith than any of the images in the promotional video.



2 thoughts on “A Good Idea Gone Awry: Taking the Hill- Evangelism initiative at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

  1. Why is the imagery of taking the “light” to the world so “dark”? I don’t understand the video, really. It’s like instead of spreading the joy of Christ they are calling on people to go beat the crap out of everyone.

  2. I am a retired US Army Chaplain (27 years) and a graduate of SWBTS. I am appalled that our seminary could put out something like this in the name of evangelism. I am thankful for sensitive young men like Caleb who will be serving in the US Army ministering to the men and women who need such a person to meet their spiritual needs.

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