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Ann Coulter is almost right. Missionaries are “idiotic” fools … for Christ’s sake.

Christian narcissism annoys Ann Coulter. In a recent column, “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic,’” Ms. Coulter opines about the missionary work of a Samaritan’s Purse affiliated doctor and a SIM USA affiliated nurse in Africa by asking:

Why did Dr. Brantly [and his nurse] have to go to Africa? … Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?

She contends:

If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. … If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World.

According to Ms. Coulter, a new kind of narcissism has emerged among Christians. Any honest Christian would admit that the rise of celebrity pastors and the tendency to promote theologies based more on one’s self than one’s Bible have contributed to a frustrating form of Christian narcissism. However, it’s another kind of so-called “Christian narcissism” that annoys Ms. Coulter these days. Ann Coulter is annoyed by a “Christian narcissism” that she perceives encourages Christians to retreat from the casualties they have incurred in the American culture wars. Having abandoned the fight because of battle fatigue and name calling, she says, these AWOL Christian “soldiers” travel overseas on mission trips so they can do good things that will help them feel better about themselves and their Christianity.

She writes:

[That’s] why American Christians go on “mission trips” to disease-ridden cesspools. They’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works.

Ms. Coulter’s disturbing comments have managed to raise the ire of many Christians across the nation, including this Southern Baptist.

Do growing numbers of Christians appear to be abandoning the culture wars here in America? Yes, they do. Should this fact disturb the Christian community and encourage us to get back into the culture war fight? Yes, it should. Does the fact that fewer Christians are fighting the culture wars mean that overwhelming scores of them now flood the international fields? Certainly, no, it does not.

Although I do not know the extent to which Dr. Kent Brantly and Nurse Nancy Writebol intentionally proclaimed the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ while serving in Monrovia, Liberia, I do train and personally know intentionally gospel-proclaiming missionaries on international fields across the globe. As recently as last week, I spoke with a missionary family who just moved overseas to do good work by sharing the good news. Ms. Coulter may be surprised that these missionaries were met with name-calling from some of the nationals among whom they now live. Wherever they go, they cannot escape being called names, either by some prejudiced overseas nationals, by enemies in the American culture wars, or by a provocative, conservative talking-head.

These missionaries, and others like them, have not retreated from “the culture war in the U.S.” to do good works in order to feel better about themselves. They have heard Jesus’ command to His disciples: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19); and yes, Ms. Coulter, “all nations” includes Monrovia, Liberia.

These missionaries endeavor to do more than merely leave the comforts of “American culture” to perform good works for others elsewhere; they endeavor to do the best work of all everywhere in making disciples of Jesus.

These missionaries endeavor to do more than merely leave the comforts of “American culture” to perform good works for others elsewhere; they endeavor to do the best work of all everywhere in making disciples of Jesus.

Anticipating this response, Ms. Coulter appeals to the Bible:

The same Bible that commands us to “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel” also says: “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”

While utilizing the spirit of Deuteronomy 15:11 throughout her article, Ms. Coulter fails to address how she also incorporates Mark 16:15 in it. Christians must incorporate and apply Deuteronomy 15:11 here in America, but they must not dismiss Mark 16:15 abroad as Ann Coulter argues because a greater threat than an Ebola epidemic exists. Ms. Coulter correctly explains: “Ebola [an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate] kills only the body.” However, sin has a much greater fatality rate and kills more than the body … it ravages the soul.

A greater threat than an Ebola epidemic exists.

Humans contract Ebola from bodily fluids, but sin infects us all (Romans 3:10, 23). Sin’s remedy cannot be found in experimental drugs or isolation from others. God’s Son, Jesus Christ, offers the only cure when anyone repents and believes that His substitutionary death on the cross for our sins, His burial in the tomb, and His resurrection from the dead alone can and will save him. However, in order for people to repent and to believe, they must hear the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:13). They must hear the good news, Ms. Coulter, and if we do not go, they will not hear.

Ms. Coulter’s contention of “idiocy” among American Christians does not appear to be specifically with an Ebola-infected doctor and his nurse; rather, this “idiocy” extends generally to so-called “narcissistic” Christians who dare to make Jesus’ command to His disciples their mission. Are vocational and/or short-term missionaries “idiotic” fools, as Ms. Coulter contends? If you ask me, I defer to the response of the apostle Paul to similar critics in his day. He wrote, “We are fools for Christ’s sake … we are without honor” (1 Corinthians 4:10). So, yes, vocational missionaries and those of us who serve overseas as short-term missionaries are fools—fools receiving no respect from the world, all for the sake of Christ.

 

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Matt Queen

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