Jul 4, 2009

Evangelistic Preaching or Not?

Recently I had the opportunity to write a paper that basically was a critique of an evangelistic sermon. I had a copy of the transcript of the sermon to work with, to study and pull apart if you will. In fact, I had three sermon transcripts of the same preacher to get a better reflection of the theolgy being taught.

Without naming the preacher, as I dont feel this adds any purpose, here are some of my findings.

A number of theological weaknesses are revealed in the sermons. There are a number of teachings, fundamental to the Christian faith that is mislaid. Most prominent is the biblical meaning of sin, the need for repentance and the possibility of eternal damnation. The preacher refers briefly to hell in one sermon, but makes no mention of the biblical fact that it is the destination of those who have not come to faith in Christ, realizing they are sinners in need of a Saviour reflected in John 5:24. In another sermon, the preacher comments that we deserve punishment but remarks not on what the punishment is and the place that it implicates for those who do not believe. Overtly obvious is the lack of reference to repentance. The preacher says,
“I had a guy ask me one time, “ What can I do to be saved?” I was just playing with him and I said, “You’re too late!” That kind of shocked him. You’re about 2000 years late! What needed to be done for your salvation has already been done and you can’t do anything about it”. Although, there is some truth to this response, and although it may have been said in jest, the preacher's response is wanting. There is something to be done! The same question was asked in the book of Acts. The reply was not, “…you can’t do anything about it”, the biblical response was “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:39). There are various words for sin in Hebrew. One noted here is the word, “chattath” which means an offence, sometime habitual sinfulness, and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation. It also means to miss, to sin, by inference to forfeit, to lack.[1] The concept of sin is fundamental to Christianity. The preacher neglects to present this concept in his sermons, avoiding the issue as if were too confrontational. When encouraging people to accept Christ, he encourages a prayer that dismisses the human condition of sin.
“Some of you are maybe not sure you’d go to heaven if you died. Would you pray something like this in your heart, “Jesus Christ, I’m not sure if I’m saved or not. If I’m not I’m asking You to save me today. I’m putting my total trust in You and I want to follow You. Thank You for loving me and dying for me. Help me to understand it more”.

The omittance of these fundamentals of Christianity is not something new to evangelistic sermons if we take the time to look closely. Here's praying that we all become more biblical in what we preach. Here's praying that the God we read about in the Scriptures is indeed the God we render when we preach. Lord help us :)

[1] Kevin, Conner. The Foundations of Christian Doctrine. Victoria, Australia: (Acacia Press, 1980), 137