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Thread: LIstmakers?

  1. #1
    ff Fortissimo regeron's Avatar
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    LIstmakers?

    Hi Everyone,

    I've commented before on the odd behavior of my minister. I'm discovering some new issues and wondered if anyone else has encountered similar things.

    His newest thing is "lists". Actually, he might have been doing it all along, but I've only noticed it and started to become troubled by it in the last few months. He's boiling his beliefs down to a series of rules, eg. if you follow these 11 principals, you'll have a healthy spiritual life; if you want to truly follow Jesus, you have to do these 7 things.

    The question is: "what kind of personality depends on rules like this to find what he assumes is spiritual completeness or fulfillment?"

    The odd thing is that he also preaches that he is led by the spirit all the time, which implies something other than following a set of made-up rules.

    He also bases his spiritual life on the beginning of the book of Acts - so he's an 'early church' kind of person. He doesn't follow the lectionary. In the 5 years he has been with us, he has only rarely selected scripture from the old testament, other than from the Psalms, which are usually used as a responsive reading. He has also never preached on any parable of Jesus, except maybe once. He claims that he wants to stay open to the leading of the spirit, so won't plan anything related to worship more than a few days in advance, other than setting up his "lists of principals."

    I also refer to him as a 'step-one Christian' who never gets to step two. "Are you saved? No? Then today's the day" So I get saved. I go back the next week, all ready to get to work for the Lord, but he has the same question: "Are you saved?" I answer "Yes. and now I'm ready to get to work for the Lord!" "But are you sure you're saved? You better get saved again." "Okay, I'll accept Jesus as my savior ... again." The I go home, hoping to return the next week so that I can be told how I can do the work of the Lord. I return the next week to the question: "Are you saved?" "Yes, yes," I reply. "I've been saved the last two weeks and now I'm ready to work for the Lord. Just tell me what I have to do!" He asks, "But are you sure you're sure?"... and so it continues. Such Christians are never able to move past step one. They actually seem to doubt the ability of any divinity to save them, so constantly 'get saved' to be sure. In a way, they never get to step two because they don't appear to have any faith in step one.

    (This means that we never hear how we are to love our neighbor.)

    These tend to be the same people who constantly ask for forgiveness, even when they haven't had time to sin since the last request for forgiveness.

    For now, though, I'd be interested to hear about the listmakers. It's also odd because this type of christian laments the behavior of the Pharisees - they were so fixated on following "the law" - but then these types of christians go on to create their own laws that must be followed. They preach 'grace', but create lists of principals that must be followed in order to be a true believer.

    Thanks in advance for any insights.

  2. #2
    Moderator myorgan's Avatar
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    Regeron,

    From an educational perspective, making lists helps those of a particular learning style remember and apply new learning. However, from the story you relate, it sounds like it's the same steps every week. That does sound odd in the manner you present.

    Then again, some believe a person can lose their salvation, while others believe in eternal salvation. Recently, I have discovered another belief system who believes when they are born, they are born saved.

    Bottom line, if one is emphasizing only one part of Scripture at the expense of others, it is generally a sign of a cult.

    Regarding lists, my pastor has made a list of music for 2 months in advance. I could hardly believe it is because he feels he is "led by the Spirit," however, sometimes the music works out well. But for some reason I'm wondering if the Spirit is moving him to choose Amazing Grace (or some form of it) over 5 times in that period of time. That's not to mention kids trick-or-treating during the service last week.

    We all have our crosses to bear, and perhaps this is your church's.

    Michael
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  3. #3
    mp Mezzo-Piano KC9UDX's Avatar
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    Trick-or-treating? Really??

    I agree. Anyone who sticks to one part of Scripture is likely to be shocked when they encounter other parts. We should all be well versed in all Scripture. A preacher doubly so.

    Something you won't find in Scripture, that I like to say is that things can only happen one of two ways: either God causes it to happen, or God allows it to happen. Read Job 2:10 and Romans 8:28.

    Some lists are helpful. Paul made lists. Certainly Moses made lists. Jesus amazingly reduced them. I'm concerned though anytime someone claims to be led by the Spirit. Perhaps he is, but that kind of sounds like he's making up his own gospel. I'd confront him (though I'd spend a lot of time in prayer first). One or both of you may suddenly have the proverbial scales fall from your eyes.

  4. #4
    ff Fortissimo regeron's Avatar
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    In this case, one of the problems related to being "led by the spirit" really means "My spirit is better than your spirit and if we disagree, my spirit is right." Because of this, I avoid the topic altogether. Any discussion of this will not bring anything resembling a resolution.

  5. #5
    mp Mezzo-Piano KC9UDX's Avatar
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    If so, then, I don't know how your church is structured, but someone needs to evaluate his work.

  6. #6
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    In over 60 years of church-going I think I could divide pastors/preachers into two broad categories. Some are "communicators" who feel it is their calling to boil the Bible and all theology down into some simple concepts so the average person can to some extent grasp the enormous subject of religion. Some of them are pretty good at it. I've had highly educated pastors with PhD's and a vast knowledge of Biblical languages and history who could enthrall a crowd for an hour at a time with amazing facts and insights. And I learned a whole lot about the Bible from guys like that.

    "Communicators" also include the "evangelists" and "step-one" preachers who may seem to talk about a variety of religious concepts, but who actually have only one goal in mind: getting people saved from hell. This is pretty much the environment in which I was raised, growing up in a Baptist family going to a Baptist church. And back then our preachers were not educated, and basically just chose a scripture text, whatever it might actually say, and used it to press the point that you must be saved or you're going to hell! As someone said above, they tended not to get to the "love your neighbor" part.

    This type of preacher seems compelled to rather frequently remind his hearers that they have one primary job as Christians -- to make new Christians. Thus, the services need to be "seeker-friendly" and most of our efforts should be directed toward "reaching the lost" whether in our community or on mission fields. I certainly can't fault the belief that Jesus gave us an evangelical imperative, but I think the Bible also has a clear thread that our first mission is to "glorify God" -- to worship and love Him with all our beings. This means, to me, that corporate worship is not necessarily "seeker-friendly" but "God-friendly", and that the primary goal of every church gathering is WORSHIP, not evangelism, which is rightly done on the streets! And that discipling, ministry to the poor, and other important tasks of the church must be given appropriate emphasis too.

    It's not just evangelicals who can have a one-track mind though. I've heard liberal preachers who went overboard on the "love your neighbor" thing, to the extent that every sermon seemed like a brow-beating -- instead of "you're going to hell" it was "you just don't love people enough." That's not very helpful either in the long run, if that's all you hear.

    The SECOND category, whom I find much more helpful, I might call "worship leaders" -- the ones who see their task not so much as didactic or persuasive, but as helping us see the face of God through corporate worship and spiritual growth. This is the style I have observed most when attending Anglican cathedral services in England, in the few high church Episcopal services I have attended, and in the CBF ("liberal Baptist") church we attended for a year after leaving the SBC, before we wound up in the Disciples. Some of the preaching I hear in the Disciples Church is very close to that style, but can be tempered with a smattering of both evangelicalism and love-your-neighbor-ism.

    In truth, we need to hear all kinds of preaching, I suppose. It's nice to hear a genuine academic who can impart interesting and useful knowledge about the scripture, about religious history, about the nature of God. And if we don't have some evangelism of some kind, how will we reach the unreached? Without being encouraged to love, we may slide back into self-centeredness. But IMHO the greatest need is to see the face of God, and that is the thing that is most lacking in many a church today, I fear.

    It's probably impossible to find a church or preacher who really balances all these ideas perfectly. But after decades of mostly being subjected to foreshadowings of hell-fire, along with a large component of "shame on you if you don't believe everything the same way I do," I had to escape. I'm glad that I've discovered the other kind of preaching, and I could never go back. YMMV.
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