confronted and ignored

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i love public radio. i listen to it all the time. saturday while driving back from a camp planning meeting i was able to listen to a couple of interesting interviews, 1) richard dawkins talking about how he believes religion is useless, and 2) alistar mcgrath (who is one of my favorite writers) talking about how faith is the greatest. this post is not about how i think dawkins is wrong (which i do) but rather concerning one statement that dawkins made. when asked about sin dawkins said that he felt like the only “sins” CHRISTians every talked about where private sins, which he believes do not effect society. he said that churches never discussed societal or public evil that effects everyone. this is what i would like to talk about, is dawkins right? do we only talk about private sins and never public sins? what sins do churches confront and what sins do churches usually ignore?

usually confronted usually ignored
  • illegal drugs
  • homosexual behavior
  • cursing
  • getting drunk
  • premarital sex
  • gluttony
  • evil business methods
  • honoring the parents
  • sloth
  • neglect of the weak

ok, i know it’s not much of a list but i have camp stuff that i am working on right now. all i really wanted to do was get this down somewhere. so what do you think? what evils are confronted and what evils are ignored within the modern evangelical church? what about within the modern liberal church? within the fundamentalist church?

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9 Replies to “confronted and ignored”

  1. Great post! Never really thought about the fact that churces do in fact neglect teaching about many of the deadly sins. I know we spoke about it when Jill and I were there, but gluttony is a huge one. Everytime I see an overweight minister I am thinking, this person is struggling.

  2. “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit, nor does a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree is known by its own fruit. People don’t pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they harvest grapes from a berry bush. A good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good; and an evil person out of the evil treasure of his heart produces evil. And what you say comes from out of the abundance of what is in your heart. So, why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things I say?” –Luke 6

    Has Christianity come to the point where preaching against certain sins has become more popular than preaching to turn away from an evil heart to follow Jesus? Change the tree and the fruit will also be changed, right?

  3. @jim – thanks. yep i remember that conversation. i think the even more compelling thing would be if we talked about gluttony within our churches with the idea of gluttony being excessive consumption. when approached that way it effects even more things than food.

    @stephen – i agree stephen but i believe we all have our own blind spots that we have to fight against. i think the same is probably also true of churches. of course, the is also the fact that it is a lot easier to point out a sin that you don’t struggle with as much or to only point out sins that are more visible when your own sins may be more private.

  4. Funny that you mention that Robert, because the verses right before the part paraphrased are the “speck in your brother’s eye” verses.

    Since our church and our society are not the same thing, comparisons to the OT, where you had a marriage of government and religion, are limited. But you did see the prophets preaching against idolatry, against negelct of the poor, the widows and the orphans, and against dishonesty in business.

    I am not sure how one can really preach against corporate evilness though, in a practical way, because that is more of an abstract enemy and not something your church members can do anything about… unless you want to go back to being the people who boycott stuff.

    Consumerism, though is a sin that many don’t even believe is a sin. I am not trying to do class warfare, but people who live in $100,000 homes and drive $30,000 cars really ought to be investing more than a few hundred bucks a year to help the needy and address poverty. If you really want to be honest, THAT was what the Malach 3:10 verse is all about. Not bringing money to pay the pastor and church building and maintenance.

  5. @stephen – amen. while i would appreciate eventually getting a salary from tapestry i completely agree that the point of malahi 3:10 has more to do with taking care of the poor than it does paying the pastor or taking care of a building. we’ll have to stay focused on this once tapestry gets started publicly.

    $100,000? heck i’m going to have a lot to answer for and pam and i don’t make near that and give significantly more than the average american. we still struggling to learn to live on less and give more away.

  6. great post robert — the pics you post are second to none. it seems to me that lots of folks get hung up on that awful P-word.

    Pride is a big problem for libs and fundies alike. imo, some fundamentalists get way too caught up in the holier than thou routine and spend too much time picking apart other denominations. conversely, some of the high-minded libs out there get too hung up in criticizing fundies for being too “low-church” or “hellfire and brimstone.” i think i’ve probably been guilty of both at different times pertaining to different issues. i bet lots of us have.

    interestingly, some medieval christian philosophers considered the last 3 on your list — pride, wrath, and envy — to be the most diabolical sins because of their intellectual nature compared to the other sins’ more carnal nature. dante’s thinking was that pride, envy, and wrath had to be nurtured and premeditated in the mind of man, and that this was worse than the nature of gluttony, for example, which essentially occurs because of man’s refusal to retrain himself from bodily urges. it’s a thin line. i guess i find this interesting because it seems like the carnal sins, especially lust, get a lot more press.

    but how would a pastor go about addressing the P-word, anyhow? can you imagine what would happen? that wouldn’t be a popular sermon, which, of course, would mean that it would be a good one.

  7. That P word….

    I’d do it in a series of stories from the teachings of Jesus. I’ll come back here on Monday and post a thought out idea. I have to travel and then teach a workshop on the weekend, so give me a few days. ha. God bless.

  8. @william – how about the following? “you’re all a bunch of prideful punks who think too much of themselves. you think you’re all that and in reality you’re just a bunch of posers who are in debt because you’re trying to impress the people around you. CHRIST is humble and meek. now stop thinking so much of yourselves you stupid ninnies and act like HIM.” of course, at this point there is not enough tithe support in the church to even offer me a salary so i really don’t lose that much personally if i offend someone. 😉

    btw, did you notice the way i never said i was prideful? that’s the sign of brilliant preaching. 🙂

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