Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reflections from Dundas Square

Bros. David Lynn and Edwin Mensah evangelizing Dundas Square (

Dundas Square is one of my favourite places in Toronto. I try to go down there every Saturday whenever I'm able to and see what is going on down there. So earlier today, I was down there spending time with some brothers and sisters who are always down there preaching the Gospel, watching them at work and doing whatever I can to assist in the effort.

Now, you may or may not have been down to Dundas Square, but those of you who have seen them can testify that there is quite the cast of characters down at Dundas Square. Some of them are skilled evangelists. Some are not. I've seen people pass by snickering at the way some of them preach. I have to confess that sometimes, it makes me feel a bit awkward myself, but then I notice some of the people stop and talk to them on a one to one basis. Sometimes they even pray for them before they go on their way. That got me thinking: If God is truly sovereign over salvation (as I believe that He is), then He can use anyone to draw His elect to Himself. It doesn't matter if they lack charisma, or even good theology. I see some people down there preaching who do not know the first thing about systematic theology, yet they have evangelistic zeal and are down there trying to reach out to lost souls. And I have seen people get saved through their efforts, so whatever misgivings I may have about some of the brothers' preaching style, I would have to admit that it is still better than no preaching at all. After all, scripture says that God placed His treasures in jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7), and if someone with no formal training in systematic theology, apologetics or homiletics leads someone else to Christ, then Soli Deo Gloria!

At this point, some of you brothers (particularly if you are Reformed) may shudder at the thought of people who lack good theology doing street evangelism. But let me tell you this: If they're not going to go out and preach, who will? Unfortunately, a lot of the people with good theology are stuck in ivory towers theorizing all day long. Being Reformed, I do value orthodoxy very much, but I stick around with the guys who have evangelistic zeal but lack theological training because I find it a lot easier to fix the lack of theological training than the lack of evangelistic zeal. I disagree with the brothers down at Dundas on a lot of issues, be it election and free will, the continuation of certain charismatic gifts, or our understanding of the endtimes. But those are secondary issues. Remember, Whitefield was a Calvinist and Wesley was an Arminian, but that didn't stop them from teaming up and supporting each other in bringing about one of the greatest revivals that ever took place on the North American continent. If we disagree on an important theological issue (and I am not for a second denying that they are important), then we can discuss and argue about them when we're among ourselves. After all, "iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17), and if we find someone to be erring on a particular issue, we can always correct that person with the scriptures (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16) but it would be wrong for us to try and tear one another's ministry down over those issues. What is of foremost importance is that those fundamental and historic Christian truths that all born again believers agree upon (the Trinity, justification by grace through faith, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, etc.) are held by us all, and that we are communicating these truths to the lost world around us.

And let me tell you, standing out there in Dundas Square on Saturdays competing with all these rival worldviews is not an easy task. We do not have the abundant store of literature that the Muslim da'ees have, and there is always the challenge of watching out for heretics that try to creep into our midst (because there are some "Oneness" Trinity deniers who occasionally come down to Dundas Square as well, and it is not always easy to avoid their corrupting influence). I see a lot of people pass by us, mocking and jeering at the Gospel and the way we present it. A couple of times today, we got harassed by cussing passersby. But whatever response we get from the people, be it positive or negative, as a Christian I choose to stick with my brothers and sisters rather than join the world in mocking them. I have to say that God does have a sense of humour, putting together the ragtag band that makes up the Dundas Square preaching team. I am more than happy to count myself as part of this ragtag band. The Holy Spirit worked through the apostles to turn the world upside down a long time ago (Acts 17:6), and if God chooses to use these merry men to do the same thing for the city of Toronto, then I will cast my lot with them. After all, we are the Church, and the gates of Hades cannot prevail against us (Matthew 16:18). What that verse implies is that the Church is the one on the offensive, and it does not matter how strong the defenses of Enemy are. If His word is true (and I believe with all my heart that it is), then by God, those gates will fall! And we're not afraid of whatever the enemy has to throw against us, be it belligerent passersby, Muslim da'ees or the "Oneness" heretics. By God's grace, we will overcome. After all, "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).

So with that, I say thanks be to God, and Marana'tha!

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