Thursday, August 21, 2014


Our culture does not like much of what we Christians hold to as revealed truth in scripture. [Even Christians disagree among themselves on the meaning of many passages and truths.] That's a given and it's OK.

But for PASTORS to be surprised, shocked or offended by this is a bit naive. To condemn our culture [or Christians with differing views of some things in scripture] for this is just flat out wrong. To get angry at them for it is beyond the pale. [Which often leads to the characterization in the picture on the left of this post.]

For pastors to try to convince others of their rightness or to try to bring conviction on others for their wrongness [according to our view] would be an attempt at playing the Holy Spirit. That's as big a no-no as could be committed by Kingdom kids. 

So what are pastors to do? I don't think any pastor should compromise or water down what they believe the Bible says in any passage they truly study and share. [Even for other Christians who might disagree.] 

But ALL pastors DO need to be careful of a couple of things when disagreeing with culture OR with other Christians. One is to remember that we're just as human as our audience and can err in our conclusions on occasion. and the other is to make sure whatever truth we think we're delivering from our viewpoint is done so in a loving and gracious way, NEVER lording it over others with an interpretation. [Per the finger-pointing picture to the left.]

As I said above and it bears repeating, to be shocked by either a disagreeing Christian or an offended non-believer, or even surprised by either, is a bit naive. But to CONDEMN either is just wrong and to get angry at EITHER is beyond the pale. [Again, see the picture.]

Then there is this thing of always wanting to get people to return to our services whether they are Christian or not. [ Seeker friendly] If anyone chooses to return to another service or not return, agrees with our interpretation or not, likes us or chooses to despise us is, while not unimportant to be sure, far down on the list of concerns we might have when we attempt to share or teach as a pastor what we believe to be the truth of any given passage with which we're dealing. 

[You can see my assumption is we really do buy into the two things to be remembered. 1__We're just as human as our audience and can err in our conclusions on occasion. 2__Whatever truth we think we're delivering from our viewpoint is to be done so in a loving and gracious way with no lording over others, This is because delivering truth is NEVER more of a priority than is loving people.]

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


It's rather hard to clap and type at the same time, but that's exactly how your words make me feel!

Far too many preachers seem to believe that stepping into the pulpit negates any responsibility they may have for your two things to be remembered.

Ex cathedra ???

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

That says it al.."Ex cathedra."

Unfortunately, too many pastors try to speak with a full authority of the "Pastoral Office" which they wrongly see as very close to the "pope's infallibility" as defined in Roman Catholic doctrine).

Steve Miller said...

Thanks Paul,

That is why it is so important to refer to the congregation as "we" vice "you" in delivering the truth. Keeps us as proclaimers in the right priority and reminds us that the truth we are sharing certainly applies to the speaker first then the listener. Appreciate you.


Paul Burleson said...


Excellent point! I believe it to be far greater a point to made than might be thought at first.

For a preacher to speak of "I," "my," instead of "we," "ours." is to miss the opportunity identifying with the congregation. Sadly, it may show where the speaker really does place himself. Above the others!

Bob Cleveland said...

As to "Society' .. meaning the lost all around us: Do we condemn cats for being incestuous? Goodness no. That's in their nature.

So why would we condemn "society" for acting according to its collective nature? If we could correct all the actions we don't like, in our society, all we'd have produced is a bunch of hell-bound sinners who acted nicer. And that's not our mission.

Seeing that, in the six biggest population centers in Alabama, attendance among Baptists is 33.28% of membership, whereas it's 53.97% among others, I'd say we have more to worry about within our own ranks, than bad-mouthing "society".

As to scripture, I've long heard it's a matter of revelation, not education. And there's no reason why God can't reveal to the guy in the pew that He never told the pastor. It may not be everyday, but there's enough of it to warrant a pastor's level-headed and Spirit-led response to those believers who view a scriptural passage differently.

After all, as one of my mentors said nearly a half century ago: "If you would win some, be winsome".

Paul Burleson said...


That says it better than I did, Not surprised at all. Great comment.

Sarah said...

Sad to say, I've run into quite a few of these. Even worse, most of them were fairly hypocritical (and I don't use that word lightly). While they would finger-point on Sunday and "Pharisee-shame" certain people, most people at church could see that they did exactly the opposite of what they preached.

The only thing worse than finger-pointing (IMHO) is patronizing. I can't tell you how many times on a Sunday I've run into somebody in a prominent position at church who feels the need to talk to others as if they are two years old, with a false cheery tone and (making sure to enunciate every syllable). Unfortunately, where I've encountered this type of behaviour is in the worst location possible: the youth pastors and Sunday School teachers. They are essentially killing the next generation of churchgoers by refusing to listen to their concerns or answering questions truthfully. Most of the time they just dismiss anything and everything the young people say. When I was a teenager, it was one of the biggest contributing factors as to why I left the church I was at.

So let's get rid of finger-pointing (and while we're at it rid the church community of patronizing).

Paul Burleson said...


EXCELLENT comment. I with you on what we need to"get rid of." Thanks!