There are always topics that we’d wish our Pastor covered or didn’t cover on Sundays with his/her message. Maybe you could do without the well-timed and redundant tithes & offerings sermons, or maybe you’d appreciate a more aggressive stance on particular social issues affecting Americans with your weekly message. I think that there is a degree of deference (that is, deferring to less offensive preaching material) evident in our churches, especially on hot-stove issues, that is more often rooted in fear than wisdom. The pursuit of popularity, I’ll call it, lacks boldness and tirelessly avoids “ruffling feathers” at the expense of diluting truth and shrinking back at a time when a decisive voice is most desperately needed from the Christian podium. As a result of this pursuit, safe preaching topics are selected more times than not and so the cycle of political correctness continues from our church’s pulpits.
The New Testament & False Teaching
A prime example of this compromise, which masquerades as noble ‘deference,’ is false teaching. One of the New Testament’s foremost emphases is in warning and exhorting the young and green church to be watchful of things that could bring upon its destruction. The text is particularly littered with warnings directed toward false teaching, false teachers and false prophets (I encourage you to not take my word for it, but rather search the scriptures for this trend). These admonitions appear over and over again, especially in the epistles and Pauline letters, but also are not exempt from the Gospels!
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” ~Matthew 7:15
I’ll save some of my specific notions of these ‘false teachings’ for another post, but the point is if the authors of the new testament deemed false teaching a reason for watchfulness, why don’t we? If prophecy foretells many being led astray by these wicked tangents of half-truth, why are we not on guard, in word and deed? I believe we should at least talk about it and test the teachings that come our way, in our churches, bible studies, fellowship groups, and even in Christian publications and books. Let’s field the call to be watchful and heed the warning to be prepared!
“As a result of this pursuit, safe preaching topics are selected more times than not and so the cycle of political correctness continues from our church’s pulpits.”
The Poison of Political Correctness
To paraphrase Dr. Ben Carson, the institution of political correctness and its group of enforcers, sometimes jestingly referred to as the “PC Police,” prevents us from having honest and productive conversations. Political correctness has fear written all over it. It essentially says: “censor your words and thoughts and constrain what you say and mean, because there may be someone or something, or some group out there that will take offense to your words or actions. We must resist the influence of political correctness in what we preach and what we talk about, choosing boldness over safety.
The Fact of the Matter
There are many issues that could be preached about and discussed more, like false teaching, if we didn’t permit ourselves to fall into the trap of political correctness or the pursuit of popularity. In a broad sense, if we dismissed the Spirit of fear and self, no longer worrying about offending others, but likewise let the Spirit of truth guide us (from both the pulpit and our conversations) I’m confident, in effect, truth would reign. The content of your Sunday sermon assuredly is up to God, don’t get me wrong, but let’s be sure we aren’t acting out of fear but rather letting the Spirit of truth prevail.
Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel