Ted Williams and Great Testimonies

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing about this Ted Williams story, but was never interested enough to inquire more than just the usual mouseover summary. But the story must have been interesting enough that even R. Scott Clark blogged about it:

Americans love a comeback story. Americans also love magic. Sometimes the two converge as they did in the Ted Williams story. He was a radio announcer, with a great voice, who became a drunk and a drug addict. He was on streets for decades. He left a lot of wreckage, including 9 children, in his wake. According to some media accounts, even though he says he’s been sober for more than two years hes remained on the streets, making a nuisance of himself. One reporter interviewed businesses where Ted was known to loiter over the last few months and they accused him of being a pimp. One person interviewed claims to have offered Ted voice-ver work regularly but Williams chose to remain on the street, even after sobriety.

These accounts emerged in the press after the initial “feel good” story about a homeless guy with a golden voice who, by happenstance, was found by a reporter who got some video and audio of him demonstrating his gift. The first place I saw the Ted Williams story was on some evangelical blogs, which seemed to cast the story in the same way the rest of the media did.

This was a great story, until the more unsavory details were revealed. But as RSC says, evangelicals love great conversion stories, especially the celebrity kind. Do you want to pack your church service? Invite Jonas Bros. or Tim Tebow. If you’re in the Philippines, and you want to count hundreds, not tens, of souls to “invite Jesus into their hearts,” bring Gary V., Martin Nievera, or some other celebrity. You won’t need to prepare a sermon or administer the Lord’s Supper (what the Reformers called the means of grace); there will be tons more people “saved” by their testimonies.

Who needs the means of grace mandated by Scripture? Preaching is such a lot of work (unless the pastor is “led by the spirit” or the sermon gaps are filled with “humorous stories”) and the sacraments are Roman Catholic. But everyone loves a spectacular, magical dramatic conversion story of a former drunkard and drug addict who was saved by the testimony of a great basketball star during a half-time harvest of souls. Conversion magic is all that’s needed, and as RSC says,

“If the preacher is good enough, if the song is hot enough, the sinner will walk the aisle, pray the prayer, and bada-bim, bada-boom, he’s a new man.”

To read the rest of his post, click here.

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