Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Be in a Local Church Where…

Would’t it be nice to be in a local church where . . .

  • the pastor preached expositionally or exegetically most of the time
  • the pastor understood sound principles of hermeneutics so as not to moralize the text so you wouldn’t hear sermons like how Jesus can “calm the storms of your life” and how God and help you “slay your own giants”
  • the pastor understood sound principles of hermeneutics so that he would know better than to preach on Prov. 29:18 thinking it had something to do with building a new building
  • the pastor understood sound principles of hermeneutics and theology so that he would know better than to preach on 2 Chron. 7:14 every July 4th thinking it had something to do with America
  • the pastor understood sound principles of hermeneutics and theology so as not to preach on Mal. 3:8-10 thinking it had something to do with the New Testament church
  • the pastor was clear enough on the gospel not to invite people to “give their lives to Jesus” or “ask Jesus to come into their hearts”
  • the people knew enough about hermeneutics not to invoke Matt. 18:20 thinking it had something to do with gathering for worship and Bible study
  • the people knew enough about hermeneutics not to invoke Ps. 118:24 thinking it had something to do with gathering together today
  • the people knew enough about hermeneutics and theology not to invoke Is. 55:8-9 thinking it had something to do with God’s logic vs. human logic
  • the people knew enough theology not to call the building the “house of God”
  • the people knew enough theology not to call the auditorium a sanctuary
  • the people knew enough theology not to call the front of the auditorium an altar

In light of my earlier blog, I don’t want to leave the impression that all of my implied complaints above are necessarily directed at the church we recently left.

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16 comments on “Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Be in a Local Church Where…

  1. spicher says:

    I would like to add that a pastor needs to appreciate Circle of Dust.

    Also, don’t forget that a pastor should know enough not to tell people to “loose their donkeys for Jesus.” Whatever the heck that means.

  2. Scott says:

    We need to get together and talk seriously about staring a church. How about it?

  3. Doug says:

    I would also like to add that the pastor need not be constrained by years of traditional acceptance of these sorts of things and expected to toe the same line if he wants to keep his paycheck!

    And the Circle of Dust thing.

  4. Sean Daily says:

    Wow…. I loved it. I think almost everyone of those things has bugged the “heck” out of me!

    Thanks for thinking alike.

    Sean

  5. Charlie Coil says:

    Dude, I grew up getting taught most of the stuff on your list. Richard, I’ve been telling you that you need to at least visit a Church of Christ or an Independent Christian Church. We’re not ALL hardcore pelagians. My friend Jeff Walling has been pastoring the Providence Rd Church of Christ there in Matthews for over ten years and doing an outstanding job. Like you he has a terrific sense of humor. The two of you should at least meet and have coffee or something. See their home page: http://prcoc.org/Default.asp?page=185 or Jeff’s page: http://prcoc.org/Walling.htm –Charlie

    • Charlie,
      Leave it to me to finally responding years later! While it might be fun to visit the church you mentioned, I pretty much never in Charlotte on the weekends. Further, we finally found a church with which we’re very happy. But, if the opportunity and occasion ever warrants, maybe I’ll be able to get by. Hope all is well with you.

  6. Daniel Lee says:

    Hi I’d love to know all your perspectives on the things you listed. It seems I don’t know the better perspectives on these. Could you send me if you can?

    • Thanks for the inquiry. I think I’ll write another blog entry (or several) and go through each point and give my perspective on it.

      • Daniel Lee says:

        Good enough. I also like to know how you think of so called traditional interpretation. Are they all invalid? How much does one need to know God’s word? Is every child or childlike adult able to figure out without sophisticated expertises with the illumination of the Holy Spirit? I like simplistic and to the point interpretation without making things too ivory tower like. Why have we have the “wrong” understandings in the past…? I am looking forward to reading your entries. Blessings!

      • As you can probably tell by now, waiting for me to follow through on a proposed addition to this blog is something for which one should never hold his breath! But to your follow-up questions, I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “traditional interpretations.” As with any interpretation, it needs to be in accordance with sound principles of hermeneutics (although it is possible (though unlikely) that some can come up with the correct interpretation even with an unsound method). I submit to you that much of the time, correctly interpreting a written text does not require being sophisticated as you suggest. In fact, I’m amazed how often Christians use methods and gimicks in interpreting their Bibles when it would never occur to them to use such methods and gimicks in understanding any other written text they encounter in their lives. And to suggest (though you did not make such a suggestion) that the Bible is unique and thus requires a unique method to understand it will not do. You say “I like simplistic and to the point interpretation without making things too ivory tower like.” I wonder why you would not rather like a correct interpretation instead of a “simplictic” one. I hope that when you read the directions on your medicine bottles you insist on the correct interpretation! If so, then a fortiori you should insist on the correct interpretation of communication from God. Further, why would you characterize the correct understanding of God’s word as “ivory tower like”? I wonder if it’s because you suspect that only by some virtually out-of-reach academic method is one ever able to arrive at such a correct interpretation. But I suggest to you that in many ways it’s not so out-of-reach. It’s perhaps because Christains have been so starved of sound teaching on how to read their Bibles that when someone comes along every once in a while and points out these sound interpretive methods, they strike one as so unfamiliar that they seem esoteric. I am afraid that this is more a commentary on the bankruptcy of what passes as teaching and preaching in many churches than it is a commentary on the cogency (and soundness) of these methods.

  7. D.D. Edwards says:

    Boy is that right. It is so right I linked this post to my blog CrossChek.

  8. Dennis Rowan says:

    Thanks, that was a real knee-slapper! I could no doubt add a few others, and I am sure you could have written many more.

  9. PS says:

    Could you give a parallel description of a local church that would be nice to go to?

  10. PS says:

    I.e., positively rather than negatively. I guess you did in fact describe one you would like to go to, but by negation.

    • You’re right. Basically just take the affirmative version of any negative I said, and that would be some good points to look for in a church. Of course, that would not constitute everything that a church would need. But likely, the other characteristics that a church would need (e.g., love among the brethern) was not something we were lacking in the churches I had in mind when I wrote the list. Most of the churches I’ve been associated with were very loving and many of the Christians there that I knew close enough cared very much about their personal relationship with the Lord. It’s just that these items were conspicuously missing.

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