this guy’s preaching to the converted

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“Preaching to the Converted” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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23 Responses

  1. Susan says:

    In our old church, we had Pastor Appreciation Sunday, which felt so bogus to me.

  2. Tom says:

    If parishioner were able to view with objectivity and observe what their “Pastors” do for a week 99% of “Pastors” would be out of a job. I put “Pastors” in quotes, because the majority do not fit that job description. Pastor is not title it is a job description – actually its a spiritual gift like every other spiritual gift.

  3. Caryn LeMur says:

    I think that preaching came from a very old discipline: the gifted and insightful and learned…. urging the masses.

    Urging them to follow; urging them to war; urging them to unionize… and on and on.

    But now… anyone can learn public speaking, even humor. Granted, it takes more time for some of us… I shook so badly the first time on stage, my 12th grade teacher kindly helped me continue a bit further… and then, walked me off carefully. We tried again every week for the semester – and soon, I could handle the stage…. at the mid-year point.

    Everyone can gain insights and become more learned… it is called the Internet. It is not that hard. I can literally read opposing viewpoints and arguments, and ask myself ‘given my current understanding, how do I weigh these evidences?’

    We no longer need preachers in their old role of public speaking.

    What shall their new role become?

  4. Brigitte says:

    In our church, there is a reminder pasted in the pulpit: “Sir, we want to see Jesus”. John 12:21

    Which would make today’s sermon about Palm Sunday.

    The thing that stuck in my mind from today was something from the liturgy “Lift up your hearts”, response “We lift them to the Lord.” Which sounds a bit strange, how do you lift up your hearts. But it is just that. When there is pain, to talk to the Lord, and right away things feel different. You get a different angle right away. And so on. It is the pastor’s job, to round you up and bring you back to focusing on God and looking up.

  5. terri jo says:

    Our pastor, Roy, is a kind intelligent man who teaches us a scripture each week, also pointing out the metaphysical meaning behind the scripture, and finally how to pragmatically apply it to our lives. There are affirmations of God’s love, and a quiet time to reflect meditatively, right in the middle of the hour and fifteen minutes. I never had close relationships with my grandparents, and it happens that the whole chapel is a sea of maybe 40 white-haired folks. The gentle smiley kind grandparents I never had. It is a community where we learn, commune, reflect, sing and share our lives. The teachings on biblical stories and parables help me especially because I am a new follower of Christ Jesus. Not a believer in Christ, a follower. We all have hot drinks and light snacks and chat afterward, and most of us pitch in to do the clean up of the reception hall. After 20 years healing and recovering from traumatic early childhood abuse and the resulting maladaptive coping mechanisms, I am now settled supported and secure, knowing God loves me and cares for me. No doubt. I wish and pray for this safety and healing for the entire world, and think of God and my spirit all throughout each and every day. I may get rocked about occasionally on a stormy sea, but the ship is soon righted, and I am back on course. Thank you Jesus for showing me the way to be

  6. Adam Julians says:

    “anyone can learn public speaking, even humor… Everyone can gain insights and become more learned…it is called the Internet. We no longer need preachers in their old role of public speaking.”

    “It is the pastor’s job, to round you up and bring you back to focusing on God and looking up.”

    “Our pastor, Roy, is a kind intelligent man… I am now settled supported and secure, knowing God loves me and cares for me.”

    Settled, supported, secure, cared for enabled by a kind intelligent pastor that brings you back to focusing on God or becoming more learned, having insights from the internet and perceiving no need for a public speaking pastor?

    Whatever is the better option, no real security can be found in information alone, not everyone is gifted in humour and public speaking and community is more real where there is physical presence.

  7. Gary says:

    I remember preaching to my own audience (er…congregation) and hearing and feeling those sentiments. It can be a pretty heady experience. As I look back on that time all these many years later I can’t help but recognize that so little of it really had anything at all to do with me. Yes I tried to lead and teach with conviction, serve with compassion, etc. etc. etc. But the adoration is clearly a product of the institution way more than anything genuine. The organization of the church is almost designed to make rock stars out of its leadership. The farther I get from that aggrandizing environment the more I see how false it all was.

  8. Caryn LeMur says:

    Adam: yes, I agree that community can be more real in face to face situations. I recall the Promise Keepers movement stumbling into that concept, and doing exceptionally well … [my memory of visiting them is in the 1995 time period or so’].

    Gary: I recall that same feeling when I taught at a church; but a different feeling when I was a adjunct professor at a college. Maybe, at the college we are helping them to graduate and leave…. and at church… well… lol… 😉

  9. Caryn LeMur says:

    Terri Jo: Although my hair is not yet white, I turned 60 this year…. I think I have joined that sea of grandparents. Love that you are enjoying your church!

    Brigitte: yep, I use to say similar in my preaching/teaching days. We developed our own language, our own terms, our own world-view…. it is little wonder that I scarcely knew the neighbor next door during that time. Now, I know Patti/John, RC, Kate, Mark, and Sandy… all neighbors… and we have not even lived here a year.

    I am not sure I could meet with church-people again, and maintain an ability to speak the two languages (church and neighbor).

  10. Gary says:

    Interesting observation Caryn regarding the difference between being a preacher and an adjunct professor. I would agree…it is very different, even considering the university where I am an adjunct is an evangelical Christian university. In the classroom I am appreciated for my skill…not simply because of a title.

  11. Brigitte says:

    Caryn, you display on occasion great psychological astuteness. But, I find you do something repeatedly. “It’s great that you like it (little pat on the head), but for my part I left such and such behind, (which is “institutional” anyways) and worth distaining, possibly, (in spite of my liking it), and what I have now, is so much better.

    People who go to church, don’t know their neighbors? People who go to church can’t talk normal? People who have a pastor listen to someone just because he has a title? People who preach have all that go to their heads. People who go to church can’t be “real”, etc. You might try saying something spiritually uplifting that is not praising yourself, in a roundabout way, especially during Holy Week–though nobody seems to know how to comment on it here in a constructive way. I have asked three times, I think.

  12. Caryn LeMur says:

    Hi Brigitte:

    I share my experiences. I use the word “I” in my sentences. I will continue to share my history.

    There are many churches that are destructive; many that are neutral; and many that are good.

    You have had different experiences than me.

    I hope you will continue to share your history.

    I complement whomever I wish. I laugh with whomever I wish. I wonder about stuff… with whomever I wish.

    I share ‘uplifting things’ now and then here, on NP. Sometimes, even spiritually uplifting things.

    However, I share mostly my ‘questions’, my history, my observations, and my thoughts here on NP.

    And… everyone is free to ignore my posts. Really. Or respond, if they wish. Really.

    As far as ‘patting myself on the back’…. hmmmm… in a sense, I think you are right. I am very at peace with my philosophy and my conscience and God. So, that kind of centering shows in my writings.

    I think you will see similar ‘centering’ in Sabio, Gary, Adam, NP, and others that consistently post here.

    We are like very good musicians that gather for a ‘jam session’ here at NP, and share our current melodies on our instruments of choice. And when our melodies clash, we sometimes are frustrated, upset, or laugh at the craziness of it all. And, we are evolving musicians, as well.

    Concerning “Holy Week”, I do not regard any week as more holy than others.

    Indeed, I tend to play melodies that regard show the hugeness of God, His open arms to all mankind, his love without any conditions, the giving of eternal life to anyone that calls upon him, and his willingness to tolerate all forms of religion… even my own.

    Welcome to the jam session. 🙂

  13. Brigitte says:

    “Centering”–there is a word for the in-group. “Cognitive dissonance” is what came to my mind.

  14. Brigitte says:

    Obviously it is not about whatever particular week. It is about the events and their meaning. And you know very well what I mean. If you are claiming to be in the “body of Christ” and the “institutional ” church is not, maybe you have something to offer about who Christ is, what he did and what it means, and you might be able to do it during the week where the west commemorates it.

  15. Brigitte says:

    Also, there is the thing about Matthew, Mark, Luke vs. John, which you have emphasized. The synoptic gospels spend a lot of time on the passion narrative. What does it mean.

  16. Caryn LeMur says:

    Brigitte: to me, the narrative of the death and resurrection of Jesus means that there is hope of eternal life.

    The hope is for all that call out for forgiveness, mercy, and/or just a ‘remember me’ to their understanding of ‘God’.

    Learning to live with tension – that is, cognitive dissonance – is part of my life. Using a Venn Diagram analogy, I have found that there are good truths in one circle of thought, and good truths in another circle of thought – but the best truths are most often in the overlap.

    Living in the overlap causes tension – and the sense of cognitive dissonance can be rather strong – but that is ok for me. For example, in my earlier short discussion on the Gospel of John, I lean towards some of the early chapters as having good merit, but then… we are given direct quotes of Jesus beginning in Chapter 14… by people that could not have been there….?

    It is as if a group of believers that were visionaries added these latter chapters.

    Yet, the idea that the Gospel of John is a collection of inputs by witnesses, and then visionaries (or..??) is nothing new. It was not quoted as authoritative by the early church fathers.

    Other believers have also tried hard to explain the text of the Gospel of John… and we stay believers. We are ok with the cognitive dissonance – that is, the tension.

    Centering is far different.

    Centering is a more Eastern term. It means being at peace with where we are.

    It essentially means that all of us can be ‘fully persuaded’ of many issues, and laugh and enjoy our differences.

    When we find better understanding, then we can change our footing, so to speak – and have a new center.

    Hope this helps. Cheers! Caryn

  17. Brigitte says:

    Thanks for reply, Caryn. I see that you are tying to be patient with me. 🙂

    Yes, I agree, the message is that there is hope for all who cry out. There is not a single one for whom the message is NOT. It is for all.

    Learning to live with tension, is part of the human predicament. It can’t be avoided, not even in matters of faith. We are to hope and believe firmly, but even Peter cried out “help my unbelief”. The greatest tension is in the fact that we are both sinner and saint at the same time. The call to faith, to trust in Christ, and be fully a saint in the redemption he provides freely, is a true reality, and still I am sinner all the time, if not doing bad, then thinking bad… though I don’t want to. This is the real tension. In each of our hearts the battle continues, even while at peace (“centered”?), as in Shalom. How many times does Jesus appear and say “fear not; peace to you.”

    What I meant by cognitive dissonance, though, is that whole thing about the “institutional” church, throwing a whole tradition, a whole world-wide confession, millions of individual believers into some sort of barrel. Your experiences are your experiences, but that’s another matter. You cannot generalize the whole thing nor dismiss everyone who does not feel the same way. You will say: I am glad it makes you happy. But still, it puts the traditional confessors into some sort of camp of bad guys with many bad traits. I mean cognitive dissonance, as in the fox and the grapes. He can’t reach them or has given up, so he says they are sour. That sort of thing. So I get the feeling, that you are always comparing, and coming out glowing.

    The church can stand to be criticized. It is semper reformanda–always to be reforming. But that does not mean that the ecumenical creeds are finished, or the scriptures upended.

    About John. I am going to copy something from my study bible, for you. But I will type it up somewhere else, so it’s not full of mistakes typing into a little box.

  18. Brigitte says:

    It’s from here, p. 1774. http://www.cph.org/t-tlsb.aspx

  19. Brigitte says:

    “From the very beginning the evangelist teaches and documents most convincingly the sublime article of our holy Christian faith according to which we believe and confess the one true, almighty, and eternal God. But he states expressly that three distinct Persons dwell in that same single divine essence, namely, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father begets the Son from eternity, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, etc. Therefore there are three distinct Persons, equal in glory and majesty; yet there is only one divine essence….The first man to attack the doctrine of the divinity of Christ was the heretic Cerinthus, a contemporary of the apostles. He presumed to fathom and comprehend this article with his reason. Therefore he declared that the Word was not God. And in order to support this view he cited the verse from Deuteronomy (6;4): “The Lord our God is one God”; and also (Deut.5:7): “You shall have no other gods before Me.” With this sham he worked great harm. he gained a powerful following. Many Jews attached themselves to him, even some of those who had believed in Christ. It must be viewed as a manifestation of divine grace that Cerinthus assailed this article during the lifetime of the apostles; for this is what prompted John, the foremost of the apostles still living at the time, to write his Gospel. In it he proves this article conclusively: that Christ, our Lord and Savior, is true, natural, and eternal God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. John had a very good reason for basing his proof on Moses, since it was he of whom Cerinthus and his followers had boasted. Wresting Moses from their hands, mouth, and heart, John now quotes Moses in an attack against their blasphemous heresies and refutes them completely. This was a veritable masterstroke.

    Therefore the evangelist John is a master above all the other evangelists, for he treats of this doctrine of Christ’s divinity and His humanity persistently and diligently. he joins these two natures together. When Christ becomes man, He speaks to us, performs miracles, and dies according to His humanity. And then His divinity is also established with plain words.

    Early Christian testimony affirms that the apostle John wrote the Fourth gospel. Yet the Gospel itself never states this directly. Instead, the author describes himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and seems to mention other witnesses to the events of the Gospel. Critics have used these facts to suggest a number of other potential authors, but none of the suggestions are compelling. The references to the beloved disciple fit well with what we know of John in the other Gospels: that he was a member of Jesus’ inner circle and a close comrade of Simon Peter in Acts; the other member of that inner circle–John’s brother James–was martyred early on; Ac 12:2. The reference to other witnesses (“we”) also shows up repeatedly in the Letters of John. Therefore, early Christian testimony appears sound and consistent in affirming John as the writer.”

    The first part is direct commentary from Dr. Martin Luther.

  20. Brigitte says:

    If you don’t get all your pearls of wisdom out of your head or from the Internet, you can find out stuff like that.

  21. Caryn LeMur says:

    Brigitte: I believe you are quoting from the Lutheran Study Bible.

    It is possible that what we call the Gospel of John was written as a defense. However, a ‘defense’ of that time period is normally written like a letter by Paul – see the Letter to the Galatians.

    Why an author would write a narrative account, and then later (near the end of the entire supposed ‘defense’, in chapters 20/21) state “but these are written that you might believe X, Y, and Z”? It is out of style for a defense of that time period.

    Thus, you can see why some Christians believe the Gospel of John to have had ending chapters added after-the-fact.

    Ignatius and Polycarp never regarded the entire book as ‘Scripture’ – they simply never used it in their writings.

    Justin Martyr is said to have quoted from some part of the Gospel of John. I did not review his translated writings this afternoon.

    I reviewed the writings of Irenaeus this afternoon – he only quoted from the Gospel, Chapter 1, as best as I can tell. He also quoted from Romans, Galatians, I Corinthians, etc. … and also from I Clement and Shepherd of Hermas.

    And, Irenaeus was very strong that there were only four Gospels. He based this on there being 4 corners of the earth, four winds, and… yes, 4 of all sorts of things.

    Clement also quotes from the Gospel of John. As well as from the Gospel of the Egyptians, and the Gospel of the Hebrews.

    So, the earliest Christians did not use the Gospel of John as ‘scripture’.

    And later Christians used much more than 4 gospels.

    This is our history.

    Concerning ‘getting pearls of wisdom’ from research and review of original documents posted on the Internet, versus doctrinal justifications by a specific denomination which begin with enamored language, such as ‘most convincingly’, ‘sublime article’, ‘holy Christian faith’, ‘believe and confess’…. well, it is clear you enjoy the former, and I shall continue to enjoy the latter.

  22. Brigitte says:

    Sorry, Caryn, I am not sure what the bottom line of your research is. I was looking Cerinthus in the meantime. He is indeed mentioned a few times and also by those whom you mention here.– So I suppose one can find out about it on the internet, but I would not have come across Cerinthus without my study bible. He definitely seems to have been a character whom people kept in mind when they wrote and explained things.

    The problem with post-modernism is that many have entered a deep fog, where they lose sight of the overarching principles and focus on what catches their imaginations. It does not work. It’s supposed to be this jam-session, but the results seem dissatisfactory. Yes, we “believe and confess” certain things, and that is a very good thing.

  23. Caryn LeMur says:

    It is a tough ‘jam session’, at times.

    No doubt.

    And sometimes, all we can do is share our histories.

    To me, though I lean towards a reduced canon, the Christ message is still there:

    – Eternal life is given to all that just seek it.
    – The Christ ‘tore open’ the divide in the temple – the Spirit of God is no longer hidden from mankind, but freely poured out.
    – ‘Christ in you’ is the hope of glory – that is, by whatever means someone reaches out to God, the Christ reaches into that person.

    And it is true that I have rejected the church institution as currently practiced among the extreme Evangelical Protestants in the US.

    I am always delighted, though, when people post about their church institution and the wonderful life that it is pouring into them. Their posts give me hope that the grand thing that once was, is returning.