Recognise the times – But not from this sermon

The lockdown is giving the Rev a lot of time to keep up with what’s going on in the church. He scours the internet like an eagle souring high above the world, looking for victims to prey on. That’s not actually true. He likes listening to reasoned, studied and engaging sermons, lectures, interviews; whatever he can find to inspire him. Unfortunately there’s so little of it going around.

One sermon piqued his interest however. Sadly, it was a lot more dross than gem. You can find it here

If you can’t be bothered to listen to it (this is the Rev’s recommendation), the point is made that political correctness has gone mad and we cannot be Christian anymore. Fortunately, 2 Timothy 3 will help us to understand what’s going on.

A specific situation is illustrated. A doctor, subsequently sacked from his post, is told that he has to refer to a person, biologically born male, who now wishes to be referred to as a female. The doctor didn’t want to do that because he was a Christian and he didn’t want to deny the truth that the person is male. Hence why he was fired (allegedly). There is a PhD thesis on the ethics and morals of obeying an order versus religious beliefs; now is not the time. This illustration shows us that the modern world has gone mad. It’s a sign of the times, namely you cannot be a Christian anymore because your not allowed to insult people. It’s political correctness gone mad.

Then onto the passage, 2 Timothy 3. Allegedly, this passage explains the above situation and how we can deal with it from the perspective of (God, faith, the church, modern evangelicalism, “evangelical moralism”, nostalgia) (delete as appropriate).

And this is where it goes horribly wrong. It’s as if the speaker had a sermon, and then looked for a passage in scripture to back it up as best he could, because what he says has nothing to do with what Paul says to Timothy.

To summarise verses 1-9, Paul is encouraging Timothy to continue in the gospel, knowing that enemies of the gospel will arise, who have its form but not its power. He’s talking about the religious, maybe even the church. It will be church people (in appearance at least) who are egotistical, lovers of money, proud, gaining control over gullible women, etc. It’s not the doctor who has to follow secular government legislation when he’s a work. It’s the member of the church who is using his position of authority in order to advance his/her own interests, or take advantage of other people, sometimes financial, many times sexually.

If you read a passage that, on its surface, appears to be talking about the world, and specifically if Paul wrote it, then avoid the minefield of misunderstanding. Assume that Paul is talking about the church unless he explicitly says otherwise, like in Romans 13. There are so few examples of Paul mentioning “the world”. It’s almost like he doesn’t care about secular society, other than making tents, feeding the poor and convincing people about Jesus, Messiah, according to “the scriptures”.

The reason this sermon piqued the Rev’s interest is namely how the misunderstanding of this passage has managed to wrapped itself around Donald Trump like ideas to create something which is so far removed from what Paul is trying to say, it beggars belief.  The Rev hates politics. He cares very little for the “evangelical” challenge to political correctness. He cares equally little for those who think somehow, secular wisdom can compliment biblical theology. Sadly, most of what the speaker talks about is an angst about the culture of “feel good” as he calls it.

What is most interesting, forgive the Rev if he is wrong, but was Jesus ever discussed? There’s a lot of mention of “truth”, but what is “truth”? And Christ was referred to, in that he exists, but that’s as far as he got because he was too busy reminiscing about the good old days. Nothing has value in life if Christ is not the focus, let alone a 32 minute talk in some random church in Birmingham. Life (and sermons) without Jesus are boring, trivial, banal moralising ramblings against some specific “chip on the shoulder” that a speaker has at that particular time. 

The speaker’s lack of attention to detail means what he said was just noise. He wanders into moralising, self-righteousness and condemning parents for building up their children’s self-esteem. The question of the churches response to transgender issues is definitely a debate worth having, just as long as “loving your neighbour as yourself” is also present. The question of how a christian lives in a secular world is another worthy debate. The passage, however, refers to neither.

Carrying on, to summarise verses 10-17, Paul encourages Timothy to continue in the gospel, knowing that it is based on the sacred writings, as you have learned from trustworthy persons. It’s not the first time Paul specifically mentions the scriptures. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, he says “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” In fact, everything Paul says is an explanation of the scriptures with Jesus, Messiah, the final ingredient. He’s all about the scriptures. It’s a shame the speaker didn’t take this advice and base his talk on the scriptures.

What can we learn from this? Do our homework.

Funny Things

There were a few humorous notes in the talk which the Rev wanted to point out:

“Christianity is based on a common sense view of the world” – Does it make sense to follow a god who dies on a cross and then be bullied for it?

“People have lost the ability to laugh at themselves.” – The Rev hasn’t. He’s writing a blog based on inane comments that no-one will read.

“It used to be, parents brought up their children to be good … because the parents … have been around longer, know what’s best … Now … parents have to build their (children’s) self esteem.” – You remember the days, when 2 + 2 = 27.

“There will be times of revival.” – Not in the passage there won’t be. 

“Christianity is a bad influence. Freedom of religion used to mean freedom of speech. Now everyone is antagonistic against Christianity.” – Of course, antagonism against Christianity is a new concept. The Pharisees were known for their freedom of speech. As was Nero, Titus, Caligula, Diocletian, (we could be here a while).

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The Reverend Disaffected

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