Does Truth Warm You?
“But we want religion that is warm, that makes us feel good. I think that what you say is too cold.”
Personally, I thank God for all the good preachers I heard as a boy who spoke of sin, hell, and
damnation. I don’t remember laughing much at what they said, or feeling good about it.
The only thing that impressed me was that they were telling the truth. That is all that mattered
to me, and still does. I don’t care whether a man is emotional or dry. I just want him to tell
the truth. Of course, after World War II the hot-shot “youth” evangelists hit our town,
and they really made us laugh. They could really tell funny stories. They didn’t talk about
hell much, though.
What should be the measure of religion? Is religion something you go down to the market and
buy, like a new pair of socks? I remember that a new pair of socks made me feel good when I
was a boy. They felt good on my feet. We were poor and a new pair of socks was a kind of
Those youth ministers that came to town in the early fifties were like a pair of new socks.
They felt good. They were talented and dynamic speakers. A lot of young people “went
forward” and made “decisions” for Christ. I don’t remember many of them “lasting,” though.
A few did, but most didn’t. I knew them in school and there wasn’t much change that I could see.
The real work of the church was done by people in the church who didn’t care much about
whether what they said made us feel good. They told us that wrong was wrong, and we were
supposed to do right, no matter what we felt like. They said that Jesus died on the cross for sinners,
and those who believed and repented of their lying, and cussing, and evildoing would go to heaven.
The rest would go to hell. They didn’t talk much about politics or making money. They
just talked about staying out of hell and going to heaven when we died. Not a bad message.
They didn’t seem to care if there were three of us listening or three hundred. I was in a lot more
classes of three than I was of three hundred. I do remember kids weeping over their sins. How
long has it been since you saw that?
I was not much different from the rest of the kids I knew. I now know that the Christian faith is
not based upon some kind of experience, but on the promises of God. Sometimes the most solid
things are ignored by young people, but they have a way of catching up to you later. I know now
who the real evangelists were in my town.
I thank God for those people. Feel good? Nice warm religion? Not much from that crowd.
All they cared about was keeping us out of hell. That was a good enough feeling for them. They
were happy they knew the truth. I still am. I learned later how much they loved us.