The problem with Israel

Unquestionably Israel Folau has a passion for both the God of the bible and Rugby Union.

These two passions we share, however where we differ is nuance and methods of evangelism.

Izzy has come under intense scrutiny with his Instagram post which can be found here.

Essentially Izzy has posted a warning to “Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists, and Idolators” saying “Hell awaits you”, calling them to repentance and saying “Only Jesus Saves.” In addition, he cites Galatians 5:19-21, Acts 2:38 and Acts 17:30 to defend his line of thought.

At this point in time, there is, what can only be described as “high engagement” on his post.

Now I’d like to make clear, I admire Izzy for his fervent attempts to share the gospel with his umpteensquillion Instagram followers. However his methods are seemingly interesting to me.

Yes, Easter is next week. Timing wise, now is a great time to be thinking about Sin and death, forgiveness and life after death. There are countless opportunities to engage with the bible in Easter services at churches all over the country. So perhaps his timing is intentional, to line up with the memory of Jesus’ Life, Death, Resurrection and Accession.

Izzy is painted as a rather simple man, but I would hazard a guess that he knew exactly what he was doing in posting this content.

The problem with a post of this nature, is it draws a dividing line in the sand. It cuts to the core of what a “tolerant” society is supposed to look like. One of the reasons it is drawing such criticism, is the fact that it speaks of both inclusion and exclusion. In a society where everyone gets a participation ribbon, and the ultimate virtue is “being true to yourself,” any call to governance other than that of self, erodes “basic human rights” (or so it seems.)

Fundamentally, most respondents to Izzy’s post and those who are outraged, truly believe in the goodness of humanity. If left to their own devices, human kind can and will save themselves. This belief is the cornerstone of what I label secular humanism. And within its framework, everyone who is a “good bloke” should receive a reward. Justification by death, is why the most common discussion around loved one who have died is “they have gone to a better place”. Whilst this framework offers the warm fuzzies, it flies in the face of what the bible says about humanity.

According to God, Humanity once was in perfect relationship with him, only to be cut off through rebellion. A rebellion that has continued through every generation to this day, and will continue until the end of time. A rebellion called sin.

According to God, the consequence of sin is death. When you create the game, you set the rules.

According to God, there is no way to Him except trust in Jesus. There is only one road to God every other path is a highway to hell.

Now this is not a new teaching, it has been practiced for thousands of years by bible believing followers of Jesus.

Jesus, is often presented as that love guy… who died for everyone. But as recorded in the gospels, he spoke an awful lot about heaven and hell. More than anyone else in the bible.

Hell is described as a place of torment, anguish and regret. It is not a place you would desire to visit, let alone dwell. One of the most common responses to hell is to declare some version of “I don’t believe it exists.” Which is fine to hold as an opinion, but your opinion does not dictate reality. Whether or not Hell exists is not determined in the court of public opinion.

I can empathise with respondents to Izzy’s comments. It is never pleasant to have the spotlight cast on your life. Even less pleasant is being told you are condemned forever based on what you see is integral to your identity.

But God does not condemn anyone based on narrow forms of discrimination. We all deserve condemnation on account of our consistent and ongoing rebellion against Him, what the bible calls sin. The fact anyone at all has access to God is an act of mercy. An act that cost Jesus his life.

Jesus calls everyone to repent for the kingdom of God is near.

Repentance is not merely signing up to a club and saying sorry, but a shift in who governs our life.

Jesus doesn’t call us to repentance just for fun. It is to turn our life around and find eternal life. It’s something he felt so strongly about that he lay down his own life to achieve our reconciliation to God.

Izzy may have botched the Public relations filter, but the message is spot on.

I’d even argue his list is too short.

Everyone on the planet without Jesus is on that list.

Everyone on the planet needs Jesus to reconcile them to God.

Repent, because “only Jesus saves.”

Izzy has particular views about hell, he is attempting to warn and save people from that fate through his social media broadcast.

What place do warnings have in our society?

The government mandates warning labels on Cigarette packages so that no one can say “you never told me about the risks.” Warnings have an important function in trying to amend a trajectory set for destruction.

Heed the warning, or accept the consequences.


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