I don't do this often, but there is a fantastic post over at Mere Orthodoxy that I think deserves a few minutes of your time. Kevin White has an article up on the site called Credit and Discredit, reflecting on the Evangelical tendency to claim that this or that is "ruining the reputation" of the Gospel simply because it is embarrassing to us personally, when in reality what ruins the Gospel's reputation is actually false teaching. Says White,
"Think about it. For a young evangelical in a progressive town, especially one who is studying at a highly secularized university or a proudly progressive (theologically, socially, politically) seminary, escaping stereotypes is a real concern. You need to establish yourself as reasonable, academic-minded, and not like those embarrassing fundamentalist stereotypes. And what complicates those efforts more than your classmate gawking at a tract that gives a precise and immanent date for the end of the world? This is not entirely a bad thing, I might add. There is real value in being present and being other-than-expected. But, when the needs of the kingdom seem to line up so perfectly to our personal concerns, it’s time for a good look in the mirror.
Because there is a bigger problem to the bad (as opposed to merely cheesy) street preacher. Most of them are teaching false doctrine. Seriously false. Cultishly false. Any convert they win is little helped by their spurious creed, unless God miraculously causes them to hear the true gospel instead of the nonsense on offer. But if someone rejects their false message, they will probably assume they have rejected actual Christianity. They are slightly more inoculated against faith in Christ. So, this class of bullhorn roarers spiritually harm their listeners either way."
It's super unfortunate when we make our reputations more important than God's; let us not pretend that we are concerned about the Gospel's reputation when we are really just embarrassed for ourselves. Here's a little test for us: how many prominent but uncool Christian figures have we taken pains to distance ourselves from? And, on the other hand, how many false teachers have we opposed for the sake of God's glory? I think the answer to those questions lets us know who we're really looking out for.