Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cliffe at UT Austin - Day 4

Cliffe Knechtle, UT Austin, November 2010
I first saw Cliffe at my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in late 1991.  I was enthralled with the discussions.  I skipped classes to sit out on U of I's beautiful quad each day that week to hear Cliffe for several hours.  He would return each fall for a week, just like he does at UT Austin.
One year, a man showed up lugging around a heavy 7-foot wooden cross.  He came over to the group of us surrounding Cliffe and shouted that Cliffe was sending us all to hell, that Cliffe was proclaiming a weak, false gospel that did nothing to save us sinners.  I remember it was a tense moment.  I thought "how could Cliffe not be Christian enough?"  I believe Cliffe just ignored him and waited until he moved to another part of the expansive quad.

I also saw Cliffe at the University of Florida in Gainesville in October 2002.  At the same time, pastor Tom Short was speaking in close proximity to Cliffe.  Pastor Tom is also a long-time national college campus open-air evangelist.  He is more fundamentalist than Cliffe, and uses more provocative methods to gather a crowd, such as showing pictures of Hitler and Darwin and asking passersby if they felt that these men were good or not.  Pastor Tom doesn't usually draw as big a crowd as Cliffe, but his theology is mostly orthodox.  I had my concerns when I saw him back in 2002, but when I saw him in early 2011(?) at UT Austin, I wasn't too concerned by his beliefs, and felt that they were fundamentally the same as Cliffe's.