Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pulpit Provocateurs

I listen to a lot of sermon podcasts and have noticed a disturbing trend. That is the language that some preachers are using. Words like crap and pissed and screwed; or euphemisms like flippin’ or frickin’; or scatological humor – these are becoming commonplace. Seriously.

Perhaps this is an effort to be cool or relevant, but I believe we are losing the power and authority of the Word of God and the role of the pulpit (whether you have a literal pulpit is not the point). Preachers will point to the Apostle Paul’s use of scubalon in Phil. 3:8 (a shocking word that some contend should be translated crap or sh*t in our vernacular), or his wish that the Judaizers would emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:12).

The argument goes something like this: “Paul used shocking words, so I can do so also.” But the reason these examples are notable is that they are so rare! And I've got a news flash for you bro – you are not an inspired apostle!

I’m not a stuffed shirt or a prude, but c’mon guys! Really?


Joe said...

Mike, you are so freakin' right! Dang!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the excuse that Paul is an inspired apostle, and therefore can use whatever language he likes, whereas it is inappropriate for us, falls flat. Especially, coming from a religious circle that sanctifies the example of the NT for our practices.

Soren said...

Anonymous, you make a good point.

I probably overstated my case. In fact, there are times when it might be okay for someone to use harsh words. I remember hearing Don DeWelt use the word "crap" in a sermon (this was back in the 80's so it was even more shocking -- I know it seems tame by today's standards). But Don had earned the right to say it, in that context. He wasn't a wet-behind-the-ears Driscoll wannabe.

My point was that Paul, the inspired apostle used such language sparingly, and for a purpose other than trying to be relevant to the culture or to prove that he was hip. And many of the guys who are using this kind of language do not have the credibility of someone like Paul.

And I can't imagine the great preachers of the first century (or any other age) using an illustration like the one I heard last week: It involved a detailed description of a praise team member singing with a giant booger hanging out of her nose. With apologies to Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman)-- I just don't think that is necessary (maybe at Jr. High Camp, but not the Sunday morning adult worship).