Why we should object when preachers say theologically stupid things.

A preacher at a famous megachurch I recently visited:

I’ve never yet met anyone with an obedient heart who was living under some sort of curse.

Gee, that’s too bad for the young single female missionary friend of ours, heading to a closed Muslim country, who was just diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. If only she’d had an obedient heart, this wouldn’t have happened.

Now someone might object when I criticize things like this, when preachers casually say things that are just plain wrong. “They didn’t mean it like that,” someone might say.

I have two responses to this.

First, preachers have a responsibility to carefully consider their words. People will assume they are true at the most obvious level of meaning, not the closest theologically accurate one. I guarantee you most of the thousands of people in the room when this guy spouted this nonsense did not put it through a filter and come up with a passable, nuanced interpretation. Most of them just nodded or wrote it down in their fancy moleskine journal.

Second, in Matthew 12:36 Jesus says, “On the day of judgment men will give account for every careless word they speak.” How much more, do you think, will ministers of the Word give an account for what they said while they claimed to be preaching the gospel?

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Comments

  1. If only he’d stopped after the word “heart.”

  2. It’s scary the power we as ministers have to (mis)shape the beliefs and life of those who hear us. Our position carries a weight with it that lends room for good or evil.
    I guess it all comes back to Spider-man: “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
    I really just wanted to quote spider-man on this blog…

  3. jessica says:

    what you got against moleskines? says the girl with several year’s worth…

  4. ok, great. from orthodoxy to orthopraxy… how exactly does one “object” when a pastor says theologically stupid things? i listened to a sermon yesterday that made me want to punch a wall. more than once. it was given at a reformed church in a conservative denomination.

    so, then, how does one “object”? on our blogs, at our kitchen tables? do we write the pastor an email or a letter? how do you reconcile matthew 12:36 with giving elders their due honor (1 timothy)?

    in fact, i wanted to post the link here so you can hear for yourself, but decided that’s not honoring to the pastor. i suppose matthew 18 wise, i should go to him first before i call him out on the blogosphere, right?

    sure, there are going to be fallible men teaching theologically stupid things on any given sunday. i’m not inclined to fight every battle out there. but i am inclined to fight locally and within the denomination to which i belong.

    i am fired up, if you can’t tell.

  5. JD–
    If a sermon bugged you that much even after sleeping on it, and the guy’s not somebody famous who’s never gonna respond, I’d shoot him a well-thought-through email. Give the caveat “I know this is weird because I don’t go to your church,” briefly give 3 bullet points & ask for clarification.

    If you’re respectful, then you’ve done what you can and he may or may not respond. You might end up having a good exchange, but either way you’ll probably sleep better.

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