Saturday, January 29, 2005

Pastor: truth teller or something else

I posted some of this as a response to Dwight but I felt it deserved to posted here as well.

I agree with the class. Seminary is undoubtedly worse though. Homiletics as taught at CCU and at the SA is a class to show you how to convince someone of your points (every good sermon has 3) and how to ensure that people know that you are right. Besides being right is what its all about isn't it? One person at CCU said that a good preacher spends 20 hours in a week preparing his sermon. But what does this really say about sermons. All a sermon is, is a way to convince people that you are right, others are wrong, without anyone to give another perspective.

Think about this: A moderately or non-educated person (seminary especially denominational ones don't necessarily count as highly educated) studies texts (scripture and others) from a certain perspective to determine "truth." The preacher the stands up to proclaim this "truth" and convince others of it. The pastor being the expert in "truth", just as a doctor is an expert in medicine, tells others the points of "truth" for the week. Evangelicals call people to recognize the "truth" in an altar call. The service then concludes.

Our political system isn't even that screwed up. Politically we have debates and crossfire type shows. Our political system is built on having intelligent debates and having two or more versions of truth being voted on. Pastors have more authority then politicians in this respect.

This speaks to the problem of preaching. First, it should not about truth. I mean in a sense it is. But mostly, it should be about a relationship with Jesus. And if its about a relationship then who says the pastor has all the answers. I mean usually the pastor is just a good speaker and then they are the ones who are trained. Why do we see pastors as experts. Why are we expected (by the congregation and other pastors) to have all the answers and persuasively convey truth.

As long as this is the model pastors will still have the power. It can be called spiritual authority or anything else its still about power. In the modern world truth is power. Those who are seen as possessing truth are the powerful. The Postmodern world is a world where no truth is necessarily more true then another. Truth does not equate power. In fact in today's world the perception is that those in power are not truth tellers. Those who possess real truth even prophetic truth will have no power. Look at our last election. The choice was between a liar ("Saddam has WMD's" he knew that there was no proof of that) and a man who could not figure out what his version of the truth was. He was afraid to call Bush and more appropriately Cheney liars.

All that to say, the belief that a pastor's primary job is that of truth teller (exegesis is determining what truth is in a certain passage of scripture and homiletics is the art of conveying that truth) is insane. There is much more to a relationship with God then intellectual truth. I can know everything about my wife and still not know her. The Church is full of people who know a lot (in comparison to others) about God but fail to know God. I am realizing that for most of my life I knew about God. But I have not known God. At least for any length of time. I mean I can see points where I felt as if I knew God but soon that goes away. Mother Theresa knew God, MLK knew God, Ghandi knew God I want to know God. I want to experience what it means to be the bride of Christ. But I fear that Jesus was right when he said "Many will say Lord Lord but the Lord will answer depart from me I never knew you" (Matt 25).

I do not know what the pastors job should be or even if we should have pastors. But as a pastor I must encourage people to have a real relationship with God. I am still trying to figure out what this means.


Bill you think too much. One day your going to look back and wonder why you ever dabated every point into the ground. Life is meant to be lived and experienced not anaylized to a fault. Have fun Bill, live life, and see the beauty that exist all around. Maybe its just me --but it seems depressing to alway question the why of everything. Sometimes, Somethings... just are and its okay. take care.. see you soon shorty....

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:13 PM  

In small group at WGA we have rules about what can be said and what can't be said. Much of what can't be said, can but only with permission.

One of our rules is to speak in "I" statements and another is to not give advise. Only speak about your issues not other people's issues.

I bring this up because I become abusive to others when I do not obey these rules outside of small group. I bring these up to because I felt like the last person to comment broke many of these rules and I am hurt and offended by that.

I also realize that for some questioning is a dangerous thing. I have met many who were intolerant of my mere presence because I like to question everything. I feel that God has always been with me (even if I didn't feel God's presence) throughout the questioning.

Maybe being a pastor in the future looks like following those rules while being open and honest where you are really at. I don't think that many value the pastor as superman or pastor as Christ's embodiment on the planet (i.e. the theological rendering of the pope). I hope that many realize that pastors are human with all of the greatness and evilness that goes with being human.

By Blogger Dwight, at 10:52 AM  

Hi, Bill!

What you post is an interesting premise. Much to digest for sure!

It leaves me with questions to ponder.

If the preacher does not believe the "truth" he is preaching, will he/she be effective in the pulpit. We can only share what we believe is truth as we speak from the pulpit and share in real life.

The listeners then determine within themselves what is or is not truth as they are preached to? They either follow after the perceived truth, choose to ignore it, or follow a different perceived truth.

It is clear that there are preachers who speak "truth" and listeners who follow "truth" as it is presented.

There are preachers who speak what they perceive as truth, but act differently. The same can be said of listeners who follow or disregard "perceived truth" in their beliefs and actions.

Your premise opens the door to many other questions. It is good that you ask, "why" to many of the traditions of the church and church politic.

Ultimately, you will follow something you consider to be the truth, or will it be? Thus, the dilemma.

God bless you, Bill!

Lloyd Michael Fletcher

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:55 AM  

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