When you think of Las Vegas, you may think of slot machines, strip clubs, and Zach Galifianakis shouting, “There is a tiger in the bathroom.” You probably don’t think of Christian churches. Yet, somehow, Jud Wilhite has managed to grow Central Christian Church to 19,000 members and four campuses in the middle of it all.
The Sin City pastor is now promoting a new message about what he calls “the God of yes.” Believers have often defined Christianity as “no,” reducing it to a series of rejections of just about everything God has created. In his book, “The God of Yes,” Wilhite urges the faithful to throw off these ideas and discover a divine “yes” to all of life. Here, we discuss his message and whether he’s just trying to make faith more palatable and positive.
RNS: You say, “Many people in our culture think of Christianity and ‘no’ comes to mind.” What does that mean?
JW: A lot of people see God as the God of “no.” He’s the cosmic cop in the sky waiting to write you up or give you zits on the day of your senior prom for all the wrong you’ve done. The media portrayal of Christianity–sometimes justified and other times not–can leave you with a sense that God is anti-everything. But in Jesus God has revealed himself as pro-love, pro-forgiveness, pro-compassion, pro-service, and pro-life in the fullest and richest sense imaginable. Too often the focus is on what God is against, and there are plenty of those mentioned in the Bible. But there is even more that God is for. In “The God of Yes,” I hope to draw attention to these things.
RNS: But there are many places in the Bible where God-followers are instructed to reject destructive things with a firm “no.” In fact, the Ten Commandments are largely a list “thou shalt nots.” Your thoughts?