exercises in compound storytelling

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Paul Washer's 10 indictments, etc.

An Antebellum era (pre-civil war) family Bible...Image via WikipediaPaul Washer is one of the stars of a segment of very conservative Christianity right now. I have mostly ignored him, for good and bad reasons: I don't know him, he isn't as far as I can tell accountable to anyone, he preaches a small Gospel, and he's loved by people I disagree with and to some degree dislike.

One of his recent sermons, which clocks in at 1:57:15, is entitled Ten Indictments Against the Modern "Church" {A Historical 21st Century Message} and is available in a variety of formats, including MP3 and YouTube video. I haven't listened to the message, but I'm curious what his ten indictments are, and whether they include e.g. superstar preachers. I've got the MP3 on my iPod, and if I can stand to listen to it all the way through I'll post an update with the list; I haven't found the list online anywhere.

I was surprised and disturbed by the reaction in various weblogs to the sermon. I first heard about it at Slice of Laodicea, where the text of an entry from another weblog post was copied with the annotation "Sermons are not for dissection." The original, from Thoughts On The Way, takes the following position:

Then the thought came to me-- why do we respond this way to a word from God through a sermon? Is it proper and right? Is it what the Lord Himself would have us do immediately after hearing His word come forth? Should we be dialoguing, blogging, commenting, and playing intellectual verbal ping-pong with each other over a sermon just heard? Or is there a better way?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what the author is saying here, but he appears to be confusing the medium (sermons) with the message (whatever it is God might or might not be saying). And it's complicated: conservative Christians believe that the Bible they read is more or less the Word of God (details of declarations regarding inerrancy notwithstanding), but in practice many don't distinguish between what God would say if He were speaking directly to him and what the speaker is saying. And frankly that's a leap.

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