parsing pulpit talk
submitted by: slowfo
So yesterday I found myself leaning back in my theater seat and listening to yet another sermon on solomon and his obsessions with women. The preacher went on and on about how many problems this richest and wisest man in the world had because of his hundreds of wives and sex slaves.......er......"concubines." Hmmm...knocking down the Angelina Jolie's, Scarlett Johansson's and Amanda Peet's (ok, Amanda's kinda my personal hang-up) of his day while sitting in a cedar palace, observing life with the help of limitless wisdom and surrounded by subordinates willing to carry out every command and respond to every whim. Yeah, sounds like he had a tough life.
However, in the midst of such abundance "Solomon's wives got him to worship the same gods they worshipped," the talking head solemnly reminded us. I anticipated what would come next from him (mostly because I've heard it many times before): "Okay gang, we've got a few gods of our own today don't we? We worship the gods of money, power, sex, beauty, etc. don't we?"
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold it right there Pastor. I caught that. You just created your own spin on "The Word of the Lord" out of thin air.
Let's be clear on this: temptations aren't gods and gods aren't temptations. Sure they work hand-in-hand but not always. The gods of today are Scientology, Hindu, Wicca, etc. and the temptations are money, sex, and power as they've always been. Let's also include convenience as a tasty temptation for the Church and its pastors. In the name of producing a good practical moral from the story, we stretch, tweak, and spin a biblical text to fit our Sunday morning needs. Count me as guilty. I've done it myself in years past. Good intentions in our ministries don't justify speaking words of God that aren't His words at all; otherwise we create a "false" God ourselves.
Every time a pastor or a member of the church speaks the Word of God in hopes that it will become the Word for Today we must ask ourselves: "With my ministry, am I really reflecting the teaching of God accurately and in accordance with the grammatical/historical context that these books and letters were written in? Or am I interpreting the these texts according to my own lights and shaping the word of scripture so that it coheres with my predetermined theme and so does not challenge the conceptions or either myself or my audience. Have I shaped this text in accordance with my own intentions and so succumbed to temptation of convenience?"