Above is an image of an old tract that I have not seen for years. It mimics the USA $100 bill, with enough changes that it cannot get the user into trouble. If you look close on the front of the tract, you will see that it cites 2 Corinthians 13:5, which exhorts us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. The back promptly gives you a quick couple of questions, of the type of sins that everyone tends to fail, then warns you that you will face eternal damnation. It is an old-fashioned fire and brimstone tract. Love is certainly mentioned, but in a very minor key. The atonement argument is a purely forensic argument, with neither nuance nor possibility of other interpretations. Plus, it can easily lead to the idea of “once saved, always saved,” if you have accepted the revised forensic judgment.
I do have several theological problems with this tract, but that is not truly my main problem. The theological problems could charitably be considered a case to theologumena, that is, “… a theological statement or concept in the area of individual opinion rather than of authoritative doctrine (Merriam-Webster dictionary).” Mind you, I would have to say very charitably as the Orthodox have rejected the atonement as being mainly forensic. That is not to say that we totally reject the forensic argument, but rather that it is a minor part of the atonement rather than the only part.
But, no, that is not my main problem. My main problem is that this tract is designed to draw the eye of a waitress or waiter with the hope of an unexpected large $100 tip. Oh, I suspect that the authors of the tract would say that it says $1,000,000, but that is not what the server is looking at. The server is looking at a note that, at first sight, is deceptively like the $100 bill, down to shape, color, and the face featured on the bill. The fact that the front of the bill does not fully match is but a minor detail because the eye does not scan details, it scans the whole of a thing. It only catches the details as a secondary matter. Thus, the server, having had their hopes raised, picks up this bill–that is undoubtedly peeking out from under a plate–only to have their hopes dashed. Sadly, I have known cases in which this was the tip that was left, with no actual tip left for the underpaid server.
I fail to see how the person that leaves the tract could even possibly think that the server is going to read the back and be drawn to Christ. It is significantly more likely that the server will curse the name of Christ, the person who brought the tract, and the church that left it. Rather than an opening for the Gospel, this tract is much more likely to help shut the doors of heaven to any server who receives it.
But, there is actually a way to salvage this tract. Leave it with a real $100 bill. I have no doubt that the server will actually take a look at the tract because it will become a funny happening in the midst of their joy at such a large tip. The server will see both the mercy and care of the person leaving the $100, and the love of Jesus that is expressed in leaving the tract. They will not mind that it is not $200 but rather $100 and a tract. They will rejoice in the $100 and read the tract. Even if they do not, next time you come in, I will guarantee that they will listen to you talk about Jesus.
This is certainly better than the curse with which you will be received should you return to that eatery and the server recognize you as the patron who stiffed them on a good tip and left them nothing but a sermon.