The Dumbing Down of the Church

I ran across a great article the other day by William Willimon on the CT site, titled This Culture is Overrated. The article isn’t so much about our culture as it is about the shortcomings of today’s preaching, as it tries to be “relevant” to contemporary culture. Actually, he is dealing with the “modern” culture, but the point made could also apply to any of the current post-modernish sub-cultures. A quote:

But this way of preaching fails to do justice to the rather imperialistic claims of Scripture. The Bible doesn’t want to speak to the modern world; the Bible wants to convert the modern world.

He also addresses one of my pet peeves – the dumbing down of the church, sermons in particular. Willimon says, “There is no way I can crank the gospel down to the level where any American can walk in off the street and know what it is all about within fifteen minutes. ” However, that’s what most pastors that I hear try to do. Needless to say, most of us who have been Christians for more than 15 minutes are bored senseless, and the man off the street sees Christianity as a kindergarten-like religion. Bottom line, if a pastor expects me to sit and listen to him for 45 minutes, he’d better have something to say.

Now, on listening to sermons: I’ve been going to church my whole life, I can read, and I can study the Bible. I really don’t need a sermon, and according to the Apostle Paul, “mature” Christians shouldn’t expect to be spoon-fed, yet we’ve been conditioned to think that it’s “our job.” That’s the only reason that I can think of why people keep coming back… they must think they have to, in order to be a Christian. Don’t people read the Bible?

Concerning any contemporary culture, Willimon is right: it’s temporal. Culture has a fairly short shelf-life, especially today. The Gospel, however, is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So, let’s get back to preaching it.

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