Monday, August 31, 2009

The book of First Opinions

A former pastor often made reference to this book. Though we’ve never seen it, we all know of it and hear it quoted occasionally—sometimes even by preachers.
A short time ago, my wife and I heard a pretty decent sermon (just for the record, not in our own church) based on Ez. 33:3 “…warn the people….” It was really a pretty good message warning about the realities of Hell, consequences of a godless life and a couple other things right out of Scripture. But then the preacher digressed. Instead of quoting, or even paraphrasing the Bible, he went into an area of opinion, and used unreferenced sources for information that seemed to me a bit on the shaky side.
When we hear a sermon it should resonate with the truth of Scripture! There should be no other authority than that of God’s Word itself. There is certainly room for opinion from the pulpit—indeed that makes one preacher different that the other; but opinion should be expressed for what it is: the belief of that person, and it should be backed up by Biblical principles. The absolute authority of what comes from the pulpit should be Scripture and Scripture alone. Other information should be given for what it is. If it's fact, reference the source; opinion or statement, do the same. Failing to do so can lead to a misinterpretation of the information as all being from the same source.
I’m not trying to castigate this particular preacher because he’s really a good man, and has been used of God to work in the lives of many folks in his area; besides, probably all preachers and all Christians (at least the outspoken ones) fall into the same trap on occasion, but I’m sensitive to the fact that preachers and pastors play an extremely important role in the lives of God’s people. Generally, they are working hard to impress upon their people what God has impressed upon them, but sometimes make their personal convictions—which God may well have laid upon their hearts—doctrine to be held by all.
I’ve seen that happen in other places where over a period in time the pastor’s decisions dictated the way his people lived, even to the point of choosing jobs or mates for some of their congregants. That’s a dangerous situation. A good pastor should give the Biblical facts, in all cases pointing out sin for what it is, and then let the Word penetrate the heart. Then each man and woman can make decisions for him/her self.
At least that's my opinion!

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