Uninterested in listening to Jesse Morrell preach about the sins of gays and lesbians, I joined a small group that had managed to collect just to the right of him. The small circle was gathered around another man—one in a red sweatshirt and sunglasses who, when asked if he was “with him,” nodded.
Spending time with this man was not necessarily more enjoyable, but it was easier. I could pitch questions to him that he would respectfully answer. Any student who disagreed could then debate with him; sans having to scream vulgarities to get attention. What struck me the most about the conversation we had, however, was the concept of sin—something that, apparently, this man and Jesse Morrell do not have.
As the Bible teaches, as Urban explains, and as I believe—salvation is received by grace from faith alone. I do not believe that I will be given salvation for the things I do, but rather for what Jesus Christ did for me. He died on the cross for my sins, purchasing my redemption in the process. All I have to do is full-heartedly believe. Urban elaborates. “We can be saved by believing in Him with a true saving faith in our heart and upon believing, our sins forgiven and receive the perfect righteousness of God.”
Salvation is, by far, the greatest gift that a Christian could receive.
According to Morrell, however, salvation is conditional—it is achieved only in a state of sinless perfection. As Urban phrases it, “one has to completely stop sinning in order to be justified before God.” Sounds like Moral Government Theology to me.
“Wait,” said a young black man in the circle. “So...you don’t sin?”
Morrell’s comrade shook his head. “No.”
Bewildered, the rest of us in looked at each other. “Aren’t we all human, though?” I asked tentatively. “Don’t we all sin?”
Another fellow student joined in. “Yeah, I mean, aren’t we born as sinners? We’re natural; it’s bound to happen. That’s why we ask for forgiveness. That’s why Jesus had to be sent to earth to die for us; he had to die in order for us to receive redemption for all the sins that we commit.”
The guy shook his head. “No. We are not born as sinners—it’s not natural to sin. We are born in a neutral state. Any original sin that existed died with Adam’s sin in the beginning. Sin is a choice.”
We disagreed. “Okay, well, yeah, sin CAN be a choice. However, there are some sins that you don’t recognize until they’re over with. That’s what grace is for. However, we are naturally born sinners.”
The man in the sweatshirt shook his head again, but remained calm. “Why would you choose to sin?” he asked. “Why? I’m not a sinner. I choose not to sin. Therefore, God finds me righteous. A man is only moral perfect when he decides to stop sinning.”
“So why was Jesus crucified?” someone inquired a bit too loudly.
Morrell picked up the answer. “Because,” he proclaimed in his vexatious, tenor voice, “JESUS...is the SAVIOR! He will judge us all!”
Another random person from the crowd yelled back. “But what about you? You’re terrible! You shouldn’t judge our beliefs! And I’m Jewish, by the way!”
Morrell laughed. “No, no, no! It is not for YOU to judge ME. However, I can judge YOU!” A loud echo of ‘boos’ rose up. “I am not a sinner, therefore I can judge the rest of you homosexuals!”
That was enough for me; I stood up from the concrete ledge I had been sitting on and began to walk away from Morrell and his—what I considered to be—blasphemous statements.
However, once back at my dorm, I contemplated Morrell’s motivations. Though I did disagree with practically everything he preached, I admired him for standing up in front of the crowd, actually evangelizing. Though I found several fallacies in his argument, I understood that, for whatever reason, those were his beliefs, and he was doing his best to bring Christianity to unbelievers. He was trying to promote the word of God and bring people closer to personal salvation.
He just had an...interesting...way of doing it.