The Missouri Baptist Convention has published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. This post features Chapter 12: Wild Waves and Wandering Stars: The Doom of False Teachers.
Previously: Look! The Lord Comes: The Prophecy of Enoch
But you, dear friends, remember the words foretold by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they told you, “In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires.” These people create divisions and are merely natural, not having the Spirit. (Jude 17-19 HCSB)
William MacLeod Raine (1871 – 1954) was a newspaper man and author of a number of western adventure novels. In a feature about Dodge City, Kansas, Raine wrote that practical jokes fueled the city’s “good spirits” in the late 19thcentury – and the wilder the joke, the better.
Enter “Mysterious Dave,” also known as Dave Mathers, one of the nastiest characters to walk the sawdust trail. Raine called him “the worst of bad men and a notorious scoffer.”
It so happened that an evangelist known as Brother Johnson came to town and led a series of meetings so successful that the crowds outgrew the church and adjourned to a local dance hall, thus attracting Mysterious Dave. He listened to Brother Johnson preach several times, admiring the evangelist’s fiery sermons against sin. Perhaps, the preacher thought, there was hope for this Dodge City scoundrel.
So, Brother Johnson preached directly at Dave, leveraging the full weight of his message against the sinner’s stubborn resistance. And then it happened. Dave buried his head in his hands and sobbed. The preacher boldly exclaimed that he was willing to die if he could convert this one vile sinner. The deacons in the congregation agreed that they, too, would not resist going straight to heaven if Mysterious Dave were converted.
At last Dave rose to his feet and said, “I’ve got yore company, friends. Now, while we’re all saved I reckon we better start straight for heaven. First off, the preacher; then the deacons; me last.” Dave pulled out his “whoppin’ big gun” and started shooting.
The preacher dove through a window to avoid the gunfire. His deacons scattered in search of cover. Raine concluded, “Seemed like they was willin’ to postpone taking that ticket to heaven. After that they never did worry any more about Dave’s soul.”
Notorious scoffers like Dave Mathers eventually reveal their true character. They are incorrigible and unrepentant. At some point, people may fairly conclude that they have passed the point of no return. Nothing successfully prompts a change in their behavior because their character is fully corrupted.
But scoffers in the Old West are nothing new. First-century false teachers honed the art of ridicule long before the first brigands rode into Dodge City. Jude reminds his readers that the apostles warned us of such people. We should be on guard but not surprised.