Do the ends justify the means?

8 Jan

I’ve been mulling this post over for a while and it has been formed by a number of conversations and thoughts that I’ve been having. I have no idea whether I have the ability to get out of my head what I want to say into this post but i’ll give it a go.

I remember whilst at college we had a big discussion about this topic of ‘does the ends justify the means?’ when it comes to evangelsim. I also remember having this debate when studying psychology whilst talking about expereimental procedure. But with regards to evangelism it is interesting and I have been thinking about this. When we debated it at college I was very much of the notion (as I think most other were) that no the ends don’t justify the means, that threatening people with a literal hell or accosting them publically wasn’t a gentle, loving or even affective way about doing things.

As I have been thinking about this I have been talking with Jo (my wife for people that don’t know). She wasn’t brought up going to church but made a commitment after a turn or burn style preach at a major British Christian Festival with the letters SH. To talk with her she cringes at the content of that talk but it was a starting point. Granted it wasn’t the starting point that she would have now wanted but she has since had the chance to think this through. As I reflected upon this i think about what I have taught, now teach, have heard preached and continue to hear preached. All of it is flawed but it is a starting point from which people need to develop and thnk through. So with regards to that question

Do the ends justify the means?

I guess my attitude hasn’t changed that much but I know that every means is flawed in some ways. I guess that it is more the job of church leaders etc to give people the tools, time and space to think through their beliefs. I do have major problems with the turn or burn message but it is the place and teaching that some of those people have been brought up on in the same way that the way I do things fall short. I guess the place I have to start from is a loving God who cares about his creation and sharing my faith gently and humbly is what I should aim for making it clear that I don’t have all the answers and some of the stuff I teach is wrong so should be questioned.

Having second thoughts about posting this as I’m not sure it makes that much sense with a second read. Oh well somebody might be able to decipher through my limitations.

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5 Responses to “Do the ends justify the means?”

  1. Pete Lev January 8, 2007 at 8:27 pm #

    Deleted first comment as it made no sense!
    I think God uses “means” that I never would! Sometimes stuff I cringe at (even stuff I’ve done) has seen lasting fruit. I guess motivation and integrity are key elements.

  2. rev tc January 13, 2007 at 8:37 pm #

    i think martin luther king jr said a wise thing: “the means must be consistent with the ends”. that means, peace (the end) through peaceful means. which of course, makes a mockery of the bush/blair foreign policy in the middle east, and their ‘war on terror’.
    mlk was echoing jesus’ words of “love your enemy and do good to hose who hate you’.

  3. Coops February 17, 2007 at 11:25 pm #

    I guess you have to draw the line between loveless bible bashing and a telling people the truth they need to hear so they can be saved from the danger they are in.

    Could it be that the motive justifies the means?

  4. Bill February 19, 2007 at 7:37 pm #

    We should do it the way Jesus did. He did say turn or burn (actually, repent or perish. Luke 13:5). Other times he was much less confrentational. Ray Comfort sums it up saying “Law to the proud, grace to the humble.” You might want to consider listening to his sermon: “Hell’s Best Kept Secret.” It’s free to listen to at


  5. Coops February 20, 2007 at 9:20 am #

    On ya Bill, I should have mentioned that 🙂

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