Friday, March 28, 2008

Is Your Pastor Preaching Bad Theology?

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans, 8:5, KJV). How I do enjoy fresh brewed coffee and Romans!

I read a thesis some years ago dealing with the consequences of bad theology taught in churches and the long-term effect of that bad theology on listeners. Today’s headlines convey stories ranging from radical Islamic terrorist to bigoted Christian preachers propagating hate and prejudice through the world. We know the consequences, but people do not speak of it, for it is not politically correct. Seventy years ago, the major population group in America’s prisons was young white males. Today, prison population is overwhelming young black males. I believe both are clearly connected to bad theology taught in churches.

Year’s ago, white churches spouted a white elitism where even pastors were often members of the local Ku Klux Klan. The result was more white males following their visible high profile pastor (the pastor is still the most important and influential person in the life of many youth) and carried that theology into action. Today, many African-American churches preach prejudice, justifying it by their history, and the results are young men and women with a disrespect of societal norms and a growing prison population. This is not unlike the bad theology spewed in the Islamic faith that breeds terrorism.

Ministers of the Gospel of Christ must understand that while we must speak out against injustice, we are to remain focused on the “things of the Spirit.” A white staff member in a local area African-American church that is growing in diversity recently told me that the church was shouting a promotional video and one of the members had a T-shirt promoting a presidential candidate. The pastor would not allow the promo to air. He did not want to give the idea that the church was promoting a particular candidate. This pastor understood the difference between the “things of the flesh” and “the things of the Spirit.”

For those of us that teach and preach, God holds us accountable for the bad theology we speak forth, and we bear responsibility to our congregations to teach them the things of the Spirit and not to lead them astray through fleshly theology. When we start defining theology (liberation, feminist, etc), it has left the true realm of theology and started expounding “fleshly” views, thus bad theology. So let's keep theology in the realm of the good, and not mix it with politices and personal prejudices.

Well, my cup is getting empty and I need a refill; why don't you get a fresh cup too, and let me hear your thoughts on the matter.


Anonymous said...

You may be onto the truth with this article. Having heard multiple sermons, there appears to be solid evidence that young black males who view Pastors as father figures (in the absence of a father in the home) accept radical liberation theology and act it out in ways that cause many to end up in prison.

Anonymous said...

Being one that stands on both sides of the pulpit and knowing pastors well, I do believe Dr. G that you are onto something here.