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Posts Tagged ‘Sloppy Preaching’

altar call

The altar Call is an outward show of how the pastor can emotionally manipulate his followers to do what he says through guilt and other pressure tactics.  It is a power play so that there is visible evidence of a successful sermon.  The (so-called) “Altar Call” is the pastor’s way of  “proving that he is worth his paycheck.”  It is part and parcel of the Man-centered Gospel of the Church Growth Movement in Modern Churchianity.

The church lecture series is all about the man in the pulpit no matter how much he claims to the contrary.  The Cult of Personality is the glue that really holds the congregation together.  Take away the charisma in the pulpit and the so called church that meets in the temple they have built for themselves will dwindle down and die.  The sheeple will find themselves another proxy god to put in the pulpit.  They must have their very own idol to listen to and to worship.

“Not a god,” you say?  Really?  Pastors are the gods over their congregations.  His is the only voice allowed to speak during the lecture and he cannot be questioned about anything he says from behind the so called sacred desk.  He is infallible and not to be questioned.  He demands loyalty and obedience.  His word is law.  The sheeple are conditioned to passively, and unconditionally accept what the man in the pulpit is saying no matter what he says.  The pastor is in fact speaking “ex cathedra” as he is the head of his church no matter who he gives lip-service to.

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”   -Lord Acton  expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887

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My premise is that any man who is given authority over others will, if left unchecked, make full use of that authority for both personal gain and personal power. The amount of corruption by this person will ultimately be decided by the amount of power that is available. As Lord Acton says, “Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority.”

In modern Christianity most church congregations are based on a simple design. The authority is vested in the persons of the (so called) clergy, usually at the consent of, or at least the tacit agreement of the (so called) laity. This Catholic Idea of Clergy/Laity came from the teachings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprias, and Augustine who created and promoted the whole “Christian” class/ caste system. While not addressing the theological issues of this problem Lord Acton actually does a marvelous job of attacking just such a system, “There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” As true today as when Acton said it.

-excerpted from my blog:  https://persifler.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/corruption-is-directly-proportional-to-the-level-of-control-that-is-available/

The “Altar Call” is nothing more than a way for the Pastor to practice his manipulation tactics while stroking his own ego.  I dare say that what most people claim to be a movement of the Holy Spirit is at best ginned up emotionalism brought on through guilt and spiritual/emotional manipulation.  Why would I say such a thing? Because the “feeling” is generally gone by the time you reach the parking lot, that’s why.

Finally, and most importantly, the Altar Call promotes a man-centered humanistic approach to religion and “salvation.”  It portrays a weak frail god who can only work in “his building” following the pastor’s sermon.  I have heard testimonies from folks who sweated bullets all week long until they could get to the Altar Call part of the service so they could get saved.  That screams of a god in a box who is so weak and so inept that that he has to have the work of the Man of god (little “g” on purpose) in order to save someone.  I have also heard of so called soul winners who got people to say the sinners prayer on visitation coaching them to come to church on Sunday and come down during the altar call in order to make their decision official with the preacher.  *groan*   No, no I don’t have all the answers.  I’m just now asking the right questions.  I just know that this Kabuki theatre that is being called “Church” these days is a sham and a shame.

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Over on http://www.stufffundieslike.com forum a question was asked:

Why Did You Leave? Would You Go Back?
For those of you who have left Fundamentalism, and I think that’s probably most of you who post here, why did you leave? Was it the theology, or was it the culture? If it was the theology, what specifically about the theology drove you away? If it was the culture, what specifically about the culture drove you away?

My answer:

Why did I leave?

Most of you know my story and the history of deception and lies I encountered in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.
http://www.stufffundieslike.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=45

Why did I leave?  Why didn’t I stay and fight?
I believe that there is nothing worth salvaging in the IFB movement.  I believe it is a religious cult movement that should die a very public, and very convincing death.  The heart and core of IFB error is Theological Error.  The error lies in how the IFB presents and views God in relation to both the individual and the “Ministry” of the Local, sanctified, separated, sold-out, sanctimonious sect of believing believers.  According to IFB dogma the “Local church” is superior to all other things Christian.  In theory and in words they say they worship a sovereign God… but in practice God’s sovereignty ends with the
preeminence of the individual’s free-will.  In a nutshell, God is viewed as a reactive deity who frets around his heaven wringing his hands hoping that there will be someone to stand in the gap, make up the hedge, and come up with a masterful formula for winning souls to Christ.  Because we know that Church in the IFB is all about the numbers.

Numbers and power actually.
I am more convinced than ever that,   Most churches today have a “pastor” who oversees the entire operation, and there may be a deacon board that is either working with the pastor or against him… either way it is doubtful that either “office” is operating biblically. With the advent of the Professional Clergy there has been a rise in the cult of personality as well. The Professional is seen in a light that is clearly not biblical and we see that whether by “influence” or by acquired “authority” these men rise to prominence. Even the small rural churches are patterned after this and the pastor is looked on as a man of authority over the congregation. And there is the rub.
Even the meanest paid rural “pastor” would not willingly give up “his power” over even the smallest group of people. It is not about the money, heaven knows many, if not most, small congregations pay at or below the poverty level. No, it is about power to influence and control a group of people and mold their worldviews.(This is the danger of the passive approach to worship where a one-way conversation takes place.  The only view allowed in these meetings is the pastor’s.  This affords almost total control by the speaker to inject his own views as ‘god breathed’.  Whatever the “anointed”, “man of god” says while behind the “sacred desk” will be seen as, and accepted as, the “word of God”.) That is an especially strong allure for men of lesser character who are drawn to such positions. I have no doubt that there are good men who are trying to do what is right in these positions and I commend them and pray for them but the position itself is the enabler, the seductress; and even the best of men will, sooner or later, succumb to the temptation of power. We see a picture of this in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings Trillogy”.   As a Ring Bearer, Frodo Baggins had an awful burden to carry yet, even he failed in the end and succumbed to the power of the ring; unable to destroy it he claimed it for himself.  The thread through-out the tale is about power, the use and the abuse of it.  Many who would have taken the ring would have done so out of a noble purpose but would have been corrupted by it’s power and their corruption would (like Sauron) only be limited by the (unlimited) power of the ring.

Would I go back?
No, not even if my life depended on it.
I truly do not believe that the IFB movement is worth saving, and I truly believe that it is a cult.  A very seductive powerful cult that relies more on the abilities of man and less on the power of the god it claims to serve.  That may sound harsh and it may be.  I know that God does work in the midst of even the very worst of these bunkers.  But I do believe that the error and the man made traditionalism and the King James only idolatry that is practiced in these dens of sanctimonious piety is deadly poison to  sanctam ecclesiam catholicam; sanctorum communionem.  (the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints)

Where am I at spiritually now?
That is the hardest thing about leaving the IFB bassinet, one has to start thinking for oneself.  I was fortunate in that about the time I left the enfolding tentacles of the IFB, I broke my ankle.  How was that fortunate?  I was able to spend almost 6 months examining my worldview.  I was able to take a long hard look at who I was in Christ, what I actually believed, why I believed it and I wrestled with several items that I had to abandon because there was no reason other than man-made traditionalism that I was holding to them.   It’s much tougher than having someone spoon-feed you how you should act and think.  But the realization that you are no longer performing according to someone else’s standards is very spiritually refreshing!  Yes, there are often doubts and you find you might be out on a limb that you would not have climbed before… but the learning experience is so worth it.

In conclusion, I know that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who have a death grip on their comfortable religion and practices in the IFB bunkers which they live and breathe.  But I have found so much fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ outside the bunker system that I could never go back into the cave to stay.

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So we don’t forget you can watch it here:
http://abc.go.com/watch/2020/SH559026/VD55121488/2020-48-victims-forced-confession%20entire%20episode

*EDIT:  You will need to go to ABC and download their player.  (This will also allow you to watch any of their shows on the internet as well)

http://abc.go.com/

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Another good one from  Jeri Massi @ jeriwho.net.
Again what we have is a moving target and the bullseye is some mythological place in the mind of the observer.  The “Center of God’s Will” is the Holy Grail of the Fundie world.  Some place that will create a spiritual, (if not physical, finincial and emotional) utopia.  Being in the center of God’s will means you are in the zone, in the bubble, in the zen of perfect enlightenment.
Oooops, shhhhh, there’s the secret they don’t want you to see, that the doctrine of “Being in the Center of God’s will” is no different than that of Perfect Enlightenment, Trancendental Peace or whatever other religions call it.  However you label it, it boils down to man’s efforts, man’s abilities, and man’s benefit.  It is the effort to appease one’s god according to rules, standards and opinions of those who observe and judge.
And she has hit the nail on the proverbial head: “Christ is victorious in all that He came to do on earth, and that God brings about every end that He intended from the beginning.”  This does not give us license to sin, but it does take away the burden of the Law, and the power of sin in the believers life.  It also portrays a God who is loving and compasionate and long suffering rather than the Zeuseus poised and ready to hurl lightning bolts at those outside the “Center of his will.”

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The Godfather of Preachertainment! 

                     The Master Showman of the Social Gospel! 

The man who helped make underworld crime the business it is today! 

I give you the one, the only……Heeeerrrrreeeeee’s   Billy

 

Pssst! Billy!  Billy!…. Where’s your Bible? 

Aren’t you going to preach from Scripture? 

No? 

O    k-a-y  ?????

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Has anyone viewed the alter call as a typical cult trick?

What other “traditional” IFB routines are really mind/emotional control tactics?

Some of the answer is:

Altar calls are a modern manipulation started by Charles Finney in order to be able to make a head count so he would know how effective his manipulative techniques were. There is no “Altar” in a New Testament Church building. The Altar was where either an animal sacrifice was made or inscense was burned. There were no “Altar” calls practiced in the New Testiment Church until Finney started it. Finney did it solely to be able to get a head count of the “decisions” he had successfully brought about.
It has gotten harder to get people down to the “altar” so now all people are asked to do is raise their hands.

As for other mind control tricks, there is the whole range of rhetoric and falacious arguments from the pulpit, Ad Hominem, strawman arguments (here’s a list: http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#hominem ) most pastors are either religious Sophists or ignorant and unlearned men glorying in their ignorance and lack of education.

One of my favorite tricks is the pregnant pause…… and if the “preacher” does not get an immediate “Amen” or “Preach it Brother” then he will ask for one. And if he’s not getting enough “Amens” or “PIB’s” He will inject his own either with a “Amen?” or a “Now that’ll preach…” or “I don’t care if I am preaching, that deserves an ‘amen’!” These are subtle ways the “preacher” lets “his” congregation know that they need to appreciate his preaching more.

There is always the Immaculate Message announcement as the “self-anointed man of god” mounts the pulpit and stands behind the “sacred desk” and tells what an awful time he has had getting peace about what to preach, when all of a sudden that beautiful song by Sister Peaches Spandexburst  touched his heart and the Holy Spirit gave him the message. This sets up his message as god-breathed and prepares the audience to accept eveything he is about to say is infallable and directly from the throne of god. (kool-aide line forms on the right, bro Jim Jones will be serving today)

Can anyone think of some others?

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Raging against “Churchanity

Churchanity: the cult like practice of attending “church” three times a week merely to sing six congregational songs, give a laundry list of wants, needs, whinings and problems to God, hear two “special” songs, take up an offering, and sit through three sermons (spoon-fed to the congregation so no-one has to think)… and feel like we have been good “Christians” and worshipped because of it. Yeah buddy, we do God such a favor don’t we? Ummm-hum, that will cause people to grow won’t it? Grrrrrr!

It grieves my very soul to think that this milk toast, anemic, anorexic practice we call “Church” has anything to do with Jesus Christ. Where did we come up with this idea that every service has to be a lecture? Does anyone study his or her Bible? In the Synagogue we see Jesus and Paul, the Scripture was read and then it was discussed… The modern abomination is for the hired gun to mount the pulpit and lecture to everyone for 30-45 minutes and get out in time to be first in line at the restaurant. Sometimes a passage of Scripture is read, and then never referenced again in the lecture. Many times Scripture or a passage is merely used as proof text to under gird the point the “professional” is trying to make from the pulpit. (taking text out of context)

Then there is the idea that there is a difference in “Preaching” and “Teaching” as if there is an either/or aspect to them. This idea that Preaching is for the pulpit and teaching is for the Sunday school room is pure bunk! Most preaching is the hired gun spoon-feeding (or bottle feeding) the flock. There is no opportunity to discuss the “message” or sermon. It is accepted that the hired gun is on a higher spiritual level and a better “Christian” so he is above questioning and his word is “directly from the throne of God.”

Additionally there is the, “all we need to know is right here in our 1611 King James Bible! The 1611 was good enough for Saint Paul…it’s good enough for me.” (I have actually heard that statement “preached” by some Independent, Fundamental, Baptist preacher on a local “christian” radio show.) Then scripture is interpreted in light of 2009 instead of the century in which it was written.

In conclusion, if that is all there is to Churchanity, and we are not growing, and being educated in the Church about church history (good and bad) about doctrinal soundness and the differences between essential and non-essential issues… then we deserve to be ridiculed as cult members following a myth religion.

So what do we do? How do we make the change? How do we touch a world that sees these issues in us (who claim to be Christians) better than we do ourselves? How do we make a difference? How do we break away from “Churchanity” and show the world around us the Jesus Christ who is revealed in Scripture? How do we throw off the traditionalism of Churchanity and be true followers of Jesus Christ?   I don’t want mediocre churchanity any longer, I want a radical world changing fellowship with fellow believers in Christ who are living Philippians 1:27-28, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”

It is a sad commentary that we look on the pews of our modern day churches as a “mission field”, which speaks volumes to our misconception of the Biblical Church mandate. We have watered down the Gospel to the point our churches are filled with lost people… who think they are saved… only to occasionally find out they aren’t. Modern Evangelistic methods have us inviting the lost to come to church where they will get under the sound of the hired gun [i.e. Professional Preacher] and get saved. We present such a weak anemic, anorexic version of the Gospel that everybody is saved… just ask him or her. That begs another question,  “Why do we think we have to make the gospel presentation so over simplified?”  Jesus never made it easy… look at how he addressed Nicodemus, or the rich young ruler. So the result is our churches are full of posers and wanna-be’s that are living a lie… I know I was one.
So where did we get this idea that three sermons or lectures a week constitutes going to “Church?
I may offend everyone but this idea that Church is just a lecture series doesn’t add up. More and more it seems that the lectures are the requirement for giving the pastor a paycheck. Or the other side of that coin, we are paying the pastor to preach and we expect him to preach… we want the three sermons we are paying him for. How much learning takes place in a lecture? Facts can be given and ideas communicated, and truth can be told… but it is limited one-way conversation! How does a pastor feed the flock and take care of it if all there is… is a lecture? If the pastor cannot have conversation with the congregation and answer the “Why” questions to at least the second degree… How can the average pew sitter learn to give an answer for the hope that is in them?

When did “Church” become this one-way conversation?
Someone asked me about 1 Timothy 5:18 stating it is proof for freeing the pastor from “from worldly labor, that he may focus on his teaching ministry.” Paul went to great lengths to support himself in the ministry, so I’m not sure he was advocating for the paid “Professional” preacher. Especially in the IFB and IFBx movements there has been too much abuse of the paid Professional position. This creates a slippery slope that becomes a vocation. And when you have a small church what does the “Pastor” do with all that extra time on his hands???
But I digress…
… where do we get the idea from, that attending three sermons a week (the lecture series) constitutes feeding the flock (or going to Church)? How can there be learning and growth in one-way only conversation? Don’t get me wrong, I have not arrived, I do not know it all and I appreciate good expositional preaching (hard to find in the rusted buckle of the Bible Belt) and I appreciate godly men who are apt to preach/teach. I am just fed up with what passes for “church” these days. Where is the, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” That takes a hands-on approach and may include lecture… but is not left exclusively to lecture.

I’m still wrestling with this issue and I cannot reconcile what passes for modern day church and modern day Christianity with what I find in the Bible. And I realize it starts with me… I’m having a Jacob moment here wrestling with what is and what ought to be.

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