We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Grave Disappointment


The assembly at which we’ve been attending for the past three years was chosen by us due to what we knew about the Pastor’s teachings and the leadership philosophy.  While the teaching and corporate worship there is usually good, there are times when I can really get irritated.

The first issue is the music leader’s choices of songs.  It was originally looking like we were getting at least 50/50 between old hymns and new songs, but I’m thinking now that we get 25% solid-meat hymns and 75% spiritual junk food.  What is worse is that he chooses too much from Hillsong, totally disregarding what I’ve told him about the origin of this stuff (and we had another one this week). When we are singing the newer stuff, the volume seems be louder and the band provides way too much drum, so that you can barely hear the congregation singing.  When we use the older stuff, the pianist or organist play, with a substantially lower volume, and we can actually hear the congregation singing!!

The second issue came in the form of a sermon this week.  Our Lead Pastor and Youth Pastor are both gone this week so we had a replacement speaker who was already scheduled to talk about the ministry he and his family are about to embark on: church planting in Europe. This couple had their normal ministry time and then he later came up for the sermon.

Ir was the worst exposition of Scripture I’ve ever heard outside of the cults!  The referenced text was Revelation 5; this had been read to the congregation right after the collecting of the offering and before the song before the sermon. 

So, the “preacher” began by saying that John asked who was worthy to open the scroll; which my wife and I immediately recognized as an error because verse 2 plainly states that it was an angel who asked the question, and it was John who wept because no one was worthy.  SO, I began taking some notes, which is something I don’t usually do for sermons.  Throughout his message he continued to say John asked the question!!

This preacher then went on and on about how everyone wants to be worthy of something, that we want to have it all, to be enlightened, but no one is worthy — and he didn’t even say why!!! But he brought in stories from Plato, and books, and lyrics from songs, etc, to demonstrate how everyone wants to be enlightened but no one is ever worthy.

Next, he talked about a movie he had recently watched on Netflix about Benedict Arnold.  He discussed how Arnold was an excellent general who was seeking “it all” and so became a traitor.  He then said that the movie talked about how beautiful his wife was and how Arnold used that to advance in his career.  Well, we all know Hollywood likes to play with history so I had to wonder if they added to the real history that Arnold used his wife for advancement (to be “enlightened”), and I also wondered what this had to do with the Revelation 5 passage!

Then came the preacher’s use of a passage in Ecclesiastes which showed the futility of life; he said Ecclesiastes was “written by Solomon or maybe it was just written about him.”  The man had a question as to whether Solomon was the author of if the book was written by someone else to teach about Solomon! So what other parts of Scripture should we question as regards to authors?!?

More references to movies were made, including the series “Lord of the Rings.” He was discussing Rev. 5:6 and how John said Jesus looked like a lamb who had been slain.  Then he said that, just as at the end of the LOR series Frodo was limping, and that this made him more worthy (worthy of what?), so the disfigurement of Jesus made him more worthy (and he also praised the Catholic doctrine movie “The Passion of the Christ”).  I immediately had the desire to ask, “How could the son of God, God in the flesh, ever be made more worthy?!?! But I controlled myself.

As the preacher moved to verse 6, he stated that the four living creatures did a “face plant” before Jesus — he didn’t even mention the 24 elders doing the same thing!  But my issue was his flippancy about how they fell down in worship — a “face plant.” He then pointed to other passages in Scripture where people did a “face plant” before God.

The he began to get to the point of his whole sermon: “And they sang a new song.”  It seems the church he wants to plant will be named “New Song” and he based it on this passage. Oh, the eisegesis which followed!  He said that this passage showed that Jesus wanted us to open a scroll and write a new song. Seriously!  I tried to find the passage saying this but couldn’t find it in the Bible, let alone in Revelation.  He also said that the “new song” was because Jesus opened the scroll, but Jesus didn’t open the scroll until the next chapter!  The singing was because Jesus was found to be worthy to open the scroll!

Then there was reference to a Monty Python movie, a movie which he said most of us had probably seen (I didn’t?), but I totally missed his point there because I was taking notes instead of paying attention.  But the next thing I knew was that the preacher said that Jesus told the living creatures to sing, but again I couldn’t find this anywhere in the passage.

This preacher also said that Revelation 5 is saying that God wants a new song!!  He pointed out how God sang in Zephaniah 3:17, and that God’s singing has more of a military flavor, and that God’s song wouldn’t be like a hymn or a modern worship song, rather it would be like “Metallica”!  I found that to be rather blasphemous. The whole theme seemed to be an appeal to emotions, and that we should have a very emotional time singing.

The lesson we were to take away was that we were to open our own scrolls and write a song praising God, and that if we prayed to God, He would guide our hands.

The preacher ended by giving an emotional reading of the lyrics from “Worthy,” a song by his favorite Christian “rap” band, Beautiful Eulogy. (Personally, I think “rap music” is an oxymoron.)

When he stepped down from the pulpit a large percentage of the congregation applauded!!!!!! These people have never applauded the meat from our pastors (no, don’t I think applause is appropriate), yet they applauded the tripe from this man!!!!  Seems to me there were few discerning people in that “audience”! 

All I can say is, if this is the type of stuff he plans on teaching when planting a church, he will end up with a poorly discipled congregation who is all about emotion rather than the meat of the Scripture.

Here is the lesson I want my readers to take away from this article: NEVER accept as true everything taught from the pulpit, just because it is from the pulpit.  Use discernment no matter who is teaching, never turn off your brain just because you are in church.


11 comments:

Alec said...

Ah Glenn,

How awful!

(1) The saddest part to me is that the "worship leader" could not care less about how his choice of music is causing distress to the sheep. And the "rule of thumb" is that for each person who complains, many more have the same objection but won't say anything.

Romans 14:15 might well apply:

"But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died."

(2) If you choose to speak to the regular pastor about the sermon, please consider sharing his response. It seems that he ultimately is responsible for the teaching coming from the pulpit to the congregation, at least that's how I understand the pastor's role.

God bless you and your wife.

Alec

Martha said...

Hello Glen,

What a disappointing sermon to listen too. It makes one want to stand up and leave the building. Was Ichabod written above the pulpit alter that morning?

I was curious how this pastor man dressed. Did he have the cool hair, the Hawaiian button up shirt or some other cool shirt with a colored "T" underneath, jeans, and expensive corded belt, and hip leather shoes to complete his "relevant" ensemble?

I heard a similar distortion of our Scriptures in an Assembly of God church, given by a wanna be hipster pastor, who used cute personal stories and quotes from outside sources penned by men, to "complete" the Gospel text found in the Book of Matthew. And he too, praised the Passion of Christ movie, which is total catholic indoctrination.

Emotional songs also lead pew sitters into coughing up more and more money for the offering and tithes, which is planned on purpose, Glen. In this way, the more money that is collected by the unknowing, the more funds your church will have to purchase bigger screens, bigger and better sound systems, and more instruments for those who believe they have a "gifting in music".......and who secretly love the applause and praise of men and women after the service......for they are serving the lord of their own egos.

In today's so called modern church, entertainment and worship are identical twins. Worship our LORD outside of the entertainment church, and you will be called "unsaved" and "unworthy" by those who love their churches of the almighty entertainment/worship of man cults.

Your story is so common, and yet it still grieves my soul.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, if your dodgy preacher wants to make any impression in Europe apart from a bad one, he will have to do far, far better than this!

Europe is culturally miles away from the US, especially in the area of religion - if I attend a German church, it is somewhat culturally different from a British one, but having visited essentially American churches in Germany the culture is even more different, even though the language the same (more or less!!). I'm not saying better or worse, different.

There is probably more residual Christian culture in the States than Europe, with more people actually attending a church, even if they don't always take it seriously in their own lives. The departure from Christianity that started after WW1 has continued in Europe more or less unabated since then. Billy Graham might have slowed the decline for a while, but your preacher doesn't sound like he might be another Graham (and I know there are problems with Graham's approach to evangelism).

Ken

Alec said...

Hi Glenn,

Thought you might appreciate this:

"The text is sometimes the great safeguard against the sermon." – Charles Porterfield Krauth.

Alec

Thad said...

I agree with Ken/anonymous
I'm from Northern Ireland, I've noticed that many American pastors expect respect because of their title or position - this appears to be the American norm.
In Northern Ireland, such a pastor has to 'earn his spurs' and can expect some level or modicum of respect but will be challenged after the sermon.
Weak and watery sermons are NOT tolerated here.There would be very little chance of him being in that pulpit again, and the pastor would be taken to task for allowing this to tarnish or blemish the pulpit.
Thad

Heather said...

Oh my! I think i would have stood up to leave.... after asking for a refund.
Sounds like your church may be changing. Beware.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Alec,

I find that "worship" leaders really don't care what the congregation wants, the only thing that matters to them is what THEY like. I have encountered this a few times, and I know many people with the same complaint.

As for discussing the issue with our regular pastor, based on previous discussions I've had with him I don't think it would matter; it would probably end up being just a "matter of viewpoint." After all, nothing this stand-in said was heretical.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Martha,

If this wasn't a "one-off" we'd never come back. How long we do stay will depend on how much more of the music choices we can tolerate.

As for how he was dressed, it was just nice casual, shirt and slacks. Nothing whacky.

I do have to say that in this assembly what emotional music we do have has nothing to do with the offering time, and I don't see it used that way at all. I think it's just that music pastor who finds stuff he likes and knows will keep a younger generation happy, while still using meaty stuff the older generation likes.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ken,
The part of Europe this man is heading for is Scandinavia, where supposedly the Christian faith is dying moreso than almost anywhere else in the world.

I'd hope that people seeking the Lord won't be satisfied with this type of feel-good sermon.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Thad,

I'd think that in Northern Ireland the church would have to be really pretty solid to defend against Romanism!

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Heather,

Now, it wasn't so bad as to leave then and there -- I save that for the times the preaching is aberrant or heretical -- I had to do that once.

It isn't our assembly that is changing, it's just that when this guy was given the guest spot due to absence of our two main teaching pastors, I don't think they had any idea of how his teaching would be. He grew up in this assembly and is a Moody graduate, and participates in other ministries, including a church-planting in the city. I'll bet they assumed he'd have a better handle on the Scripture and proper teaching methods in order to let him take the place of the two missing guys.