Friday, July 17, 2009

Lazy and overwrought pastors

I was just watching a "Sermon Jam" of a sermon by Paul Washer. In this message, Pastor Washer asks the question, "How do you know that you believe"... Paul Washer is another of those preachers who are law light, but he fancies himself a Neo fire and brimstone preacher. He often admonishes his congregation to look inside themselves, examine themselves, which is good as far that will take a Christian. But he goes too far in asking the question, "How do you know that you believe?"

Now, why do I say that? Because Paul Washer hasn't thought his argument through. All of his arguments start with the idea that a sinful child of Adam can hear the law and obey it. He thinks that the law is user friendly, and mixes the Law and the Gospel in his sermons. He tells his parishoners, for instance, that they should be reading God's word and applying it to themselves while he doesn't realize that his congregation isn't really qualified to do that.

What do I mean, "the congregation isn't qualified to do that?" The Bible tells us that we are like sheep. We wander far afield. We do things that sheep do and act like sheep do. Left to our own devices we'll follow the herd to our deaths. Sheep are incapable of taking care of themselves. In fact, it would have been an insult to call someone a sheep in Jesus' day. Similarly, a congregation is just as incapable of doing for themselves. Where Sheep cannot take care of themselves physically, fallen sinners are incapable of taking care of themselves spiritually. They need a shepherd. One who will do for them what they themselves cannot do. The congregation does not have what it takes to properly apply God's Law to themselves. Left to their own devices, they will dumb down the law, especially if their example is a preacher who dumbs down the Law himself. Their fallen sinful hearts will tell them they are keeping the Law when in fact they are breaking the Law. They need a Pastor who will preach the Law of God in all it's severity and properly apply to his congregation.

But what Paul Washer and Pastors like him do is rely on their congregations to do what he should be doing for them. At Willow Creek, Bill Heibels does exactly the same thing. When a poll of his congregation told him that his people are saying they are not being fed, Bill Heibels concluded that he needed to teach them to become "self feeders". Paul Washer and pastors like him do this all the time. His commandment to his congregation is to read the word of God themselves and apply it to themselves. These types of Pastors, who think they are the new fire and brimstone preachers, have fallen for the idea that as long as the Holy Spirit is there to witness to his congregation, everything will be fine. But, everything is imperically not fine. The Law is regularly dumbed down by congregations and believers to the pointed that many of them believe they are keeping the Law.

Pastors like Paul Washer are fond of telling people they need to be careful if they say they know they are saved because they believe it in their hearts. Paul Washer is right when he points out from Jeremiah that "the heart is exceedingly wicked above all things and who can know it?" (Jer 17:9) But the heart doesn't just decieve us into false hope Paul. It also decieves us concerning the Law. When we tell people to merely open God's word and apply it to themselves, we encourage a problem called heterodoxy, which basically means to be at variance from the accepted positions of orthodoxy, namely what the Bible teaches clearly. Anytime a pastor becomes lazy and relies on his congregation to do what he should have done himself, he encourages his parishoners to come to conclusions for themselves, which leads them often times to conclusions that at variance to what is accepted orthodoxy.

A Pastor, as charged by St. Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy, Chapter 4, should "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." But Pastors like Paul Washer are anything but careful. They confuse Law and Gospel and most startlingly, the only time they will pull authority on a person is if someone disagrees with them... Like I'm doing right now. In fact, many will come at me and say, "You're not saved. You teach that all you have to do is believe. You teach false hope".

But similarly, I rarely hear from Paul Washer and his types a clear preaching of the Gospel, namely Christ and him Crucified for sinners. All I ever hear them preach is "The believer and him obeying". Do any of you think that God will put up with that in the end? Do you think that the Father is happy when we usurp the Glory of His son? We will not be saved by crying over our sins, we will not be saved by examining ourselves, we will not be saved by reading the Bible, we will not be saved by spending time in fervent prayer, for there is no other name under heaven by which we will be saved. And that name is Jesus Christ.

Our Sinful nature resonates with the law. But the Gospel is not something that we resonate with. Only after having the law rightly preached to us and properly applied to us will the Gospel make sense to us, and it is the solemn duty of a pastor to do exactly that. The answer to the problem of sinners do wrong things is not to preach a lighter for of the law for them to keep, but rather to give them the only thing that will work faith in them and therefore save them, and that it preach the Gospel. Anything else is pure laziness.

the big test

Since someone, somewhere, has seen fit to deprive the world of Issues etc and take a huge bite out of confessional Lutheranism at the same time, I will not take up the mantle of working to see that those who did it answer for their actions.
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