When we travel we tend to listen to lots of different material while we are in the car. For example, on this last trip we listened to almost an entire sermon series on the book of Revelation! However, we don’t see that as a replacement for church, and we still try to attend church on those Sundays when we are away. On our past trip we ended up trying a particular church as a favor to someone else. I’d like to comment on the sermon.
The pastor started out with a nice enough idea: we need to help people experience God. Sounds reasonable enough, particularly since the expression “experiencing God” has become much more common since the Blackaby study of the same name. How do we help people to experience God? We pray for them! All innocent enough. Up until this point the pastor hadn’t quoted much Scripture. When he did start to quote Scripture from the Gospels, he started pointing out how Jesus and the disciples helped people experience God. He pointed to several prayers, and all of those prayers resulted in the person getting healed. He even talked about how Jesus spoke prophetically to one individual so that he could experience God. He finished by sharing an illustration of how one of their associate pastors wanted to help someone who had come to church experience God, so he prayed for him. As a result, the man was healed, and he ended up running away, scared to death!
What I find interesting about this sermon is the underlying duplicity. At no point did the minister say that we should pray for people to be healed. He didn’t even say that we could speak prophetically into peoples lives. What he did do is say that we should help people experience God, and that we do this by praying for them. BUT EVERY EXAMPLE HE GAVE SHOWED HOW HE EXPECTED THAT TO BE PUT INTO PRACTICE! He presented his more charismatic beliefs by using illustrations and misapplying Scripture, all with the hope that his audience would make the connection. I’m sure that this was all done very deliberately in an attempt to seduce people into believing charismatic doctrine.
The long and short of this spiel is this: be careful what you listen to, and listen very carefully. People, ministers, and politicians are always trying to sway you to their viewpoint. Some can be very persuasive, and will attempt to sway you without you even realizing it.
On a side note, this minister also was against an educated clergy, and even an educated laity. He didn’t think much of apologetics, and even seemed at some points to minimize the importance of teaching and learning in the worship service. Hmmmm. If he doesn’t watch it he may just preach himself right out of a job. I mean, if you shouldn’t attend worship, why should you even listen to him!?!?! We can hope…