Christian Drones

“There is a sense in which we moderns are inundated with facts to the detriment of understanding.  One of the reasons for this situation is that media is so designed as to make thinking seem unnecessary (though this is only an appearance).  The packaging of intellectual positions and reviews is one of the most active enterprises of some of the best minds of our day.  The viewer of television, the listener to radio, the reader of magazines (and may I add the listener of sermons) is presented with a whole complex of elements – all the way from ingenious rhetoric to carefully selected data and statistics – to make it easy for him to make up his own mind with the minimum of difficulty and effort.  But the packaging is often done so effectively that the viewer, listener, or reader does not make up his own mind at all.  Instead, he inserts a packaged opinion into his mind, somewhat like inserting a cassette into a cassette player.  He then pushes a button and plays back the opinion whenever it seems appropriate to do so. He has performed acceptably without having had to think.”

droneThe above quote is from the book “How to Read a Book” by Adler and Van Doren.  While the focus of their work is to teach the skill of comprehensive reading, when I came across this paragraph I couldn’t help but think of the modern Christian sitting in the modern pew listening to the modern sermon.  It is now a common thing for a preacher to pull a small portion of Scripture out of its original setting and fashion a message around it.  This message is then delivered with great passion and style along with all the modern techniques and skills of today’s best orators.  The result is that the churchgoer heads home with a pre-packaged view of that passage having been slipped into his mind, much like a cd into a cd player that is then ready for playback  at any time.  But how many people ever take the time to think for themselves during or after one of these professional presentations?  Let me give you a few examples of what I mean by out of context prepackaged sermons:

Jeremiah 29:11 Sermons  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you…”  – This text is almost always taken and applied, not to Old Testament Israel, but to the woman in the pew as an assurance that God is planning a happy ending for whatever struggle she is currently facing in life whether it be financial, marital or a problem at work.  The text doesn’t support this message at all but sermons are carefully packaged and delivered so as avoid this inconvenient fact.  Without independent observation of the surrounding text and some careful thinking, she will go home completely misunderstanding this Scripture and be at risk of serious disappointment & disillusionment when life doesn’t turn out the way the pastor said it would.

Revelation 3:20 Sermons  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” – How often has this verse been preached as saying salvation is ours when we “ask Jesus into our heart”?  Carefully looking at it in its’ original setting we find that the subject being discussed isn’t salvation at all, and the believer’s heart isn’t mentioned  (asking Jesus into our hearts isn’t actually a biblical teaching)  This “doctrine” is a prepackaged idea inserted into our minds by those who are counting on the fact that we will blindly accept it without the least bit of observation and independent thought.  One doesn’t have to look far to see how successfully this message has been programmed into the minds of evangelicals. 

Proverbs 29:18 Sermons “Without vision the people perish” – This partial verse is often ripped from its’ context and applied to that specific church’s vision for its’ community.  When the full verse is read in its’ original setting, it becomes crystal clear that it doesn’t address the church’s mission in any way, shape or form.  And yet many a man in many a pew has had this idea inserted into his brain and off he goes, like a programmed drone accepting prepackaged data with no reasoning or independent research and thought whatsoever.

I could go on and on with examples of pastors who take a verse and build a professionally packaged message around it that retains very little (if any) of the original meaning found in God’s word.  The simple fact is that most modern churchgoers as a whole are ignorant and lazy.  If I am to be honest, I myself fall into these categories far too often!  We have far too  little accurate biblical knowledge and so don’t easily recognize when a message shifts off of the actual meaning found in the text.  And if a teacher is one we like, we often accept the message with little or no independent thought.  We get lazy, and without even knowing it a prepackaged idea is slipped into the computer of our mind.  If challenged in regards to these teachings, we will often defend them with fiery passion!  They have somehow gained our fierce loyalty as though we had researched and reasoned them out ourselves when the truth is we have done nothing of the sort.

The whole point I am trying to make is this:  It is time for you, for all of us, to observe the Scripture and think for ourselves!  Those who would deceive us come with smiles, seminary degrees and great speaking skills.  They come looking like messengers of purity and life.  As the clock counts down toward the end of all things deception and false teaching will get more and more common.  It is time, past time, to place more diligent guards at the door of our minds.  We cannot become drones who merely accept prepackaged data and instructions.   Start with the last sermon you heard at your church.  Think of the text and the message, and then take the 5 minutes necessary to review the passage in context keeping in mind who wrote that book and to whom it was written.  If there is a disconnect from what you see in the Scripture and the point of the sermon, there might be a problem.  Start comparing everything you hear regarding God’s Word with, well, God’s Word itself.  You don’t have to be a genius professor to observe and think, you just have to make the decision to be diligent.  It’s time to stop being drones, and start praying that our Lord gives us ability and insight.

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