Is it fair to say that preaching and truth go together? Is there any conceivable place where honesty is more important that the pulpit? These are rather obvious questions to answer. Would it be equally true to say that dishonesty in preaching is the worst lie of all? It is hard to argue otherwise. People are groping for answers and they must have the truth or we sully the names of preacher and pastor. If this analysis is true, and I believe it is, then dishonesty in the pulpit is a heinous crime. It is a crime that lurks in all the corridors of Christianity and Independent Baptists are no exception.
There is, on the one hand, calculated deception, and on the other, accidental deception. There is little we can do for one who simply concocts a lie and tells it at the sacred desk. Just label them a charlatan and hireling and go on. But for those who don’t fully realize what they do, perhaps we can encourage and enlighten. In any event, let’s consider cases of dishonesty in preaching:
1. Telling an untrue story or illustration.
This behavior is tragic because He Who is Truth, nor His Word that tells Truth, can ever be uplifted with lies. Sadly, these days this dishonesty is often given a wink and a nod. With a grin we are told, as if a real excuse, “I was only preaching.” Only preaching? May God help us!
2. Telling untrue information on other ministries.
Petty politics. Nothing more needs said.
3. Telling stories as if you were the hero.
Some get so carried away in the pulpit bolstering their own reputation that even if marginally true, they dishonestly obscure the fact that Jesus is the only hero when the Bible is preached. If the listener leaves impressed with you rather than Christ, a con job has been pulled. I realize the line could be subtle here, yet the stakes are so high that great caution is required.
4. Taking a Scripture out of context to prove your point.
You can pretty much prove any point with an out-of-context verse, but you can’t be honest in doing so. Perhaps it is an accidental lie, but it is one nonetheless. How do you feel when your words are taken out of context? Why do we imagine that our Lord wouldn’t mind just like we do?
5. Claiming your preferences are from God’s Word.
To say, when preaching on your own preferences, that you are just preaching the Bible is blatantly dishonest. How serious is this action? It is tantamount to substituting God’s Word for your own. What could be more counterfeit than that substitution? If could can’t find a clear Scripture for what you are saying, you are guilty.
Handling God’s Word is the greatest of privileges and so carries the greatest of responsibilities. Lives are shipwrecked when God’s Word is mishandled and Christ is dishonored. We who preach should not wait to be called out, or worse, answer at the Judgment Seat, but hold ourselves to strict account. Our task is that critical, and our God far too worthy for anything else!
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11 thoughts on “Dishonesty In Preaching (IBTR #33)”
A questions we should ask ourselves – if we have to really force a point and use it in a deceitful or even just a generally sloppy manner just for the sake of making the point, is our point really work making? Is our point really that big of a deal that we have to compromise not just our doctrine, but also our character in order to communicate it? If we are honest with ourselves at these points where we really don’t know how to make our point without handling the text improperly, we should be able to admit that maybe our point is wrong, or we have miss-prioritized our point vs. Scriptural truth.
Excellent questions we should all ask ourselves.
If I hear the story one more time about the old lady in the nursing home who sucked all the chocolate off the peanut M & Ms and fed them to the preacher, I’m gonna scream. Surely they can’t all be that dumb.. . well, maybe more accurately, there can’t be that many ladies in nursing homes sucking the chocolate off the M & Ms.
One example I’ve heard several times is how shepherds would break the legs of lambs who would wander off in order to teach them to not wander off. This was used to illustrate why God allows (or even causes) bad things/events to happen to people who “go astray” so they would stay within the fold. That illustration seemed very cruel to me and in complete contrast to the Bible story of the shepherd who left his 99 sheep to look for the 1 lamb that was missing. Yet it was always presented as a fact. I eventually googled the first story and found it had no historical support or truth whatsoever. In fact, several modern shepherds commented that if every lamb who wandered off (apparently a lot of them do) got it’s legs broken, the shepherd would ultimately be causing himself more trouble because lambs could get infected, stay lame, or even die from that treatment.
When we go to church we go to hear God’s word and to fellowship with his people. We don’t go to hear a storyteller who exaggerates or down right lies to make himself look good. When I hear a storyteller I figure he didn’t study for his message.
True! I have laughed through sermons only to realize I heard nothing from the Bible!
So in your opinion would it be unacceptable to speak of King Midas as an illustration for some point in the message because the story is fictional? Or would it be acceptable as long as the people are clear that the story is just a moral fable.
My problem is with dishonesty. I would have no problem as long as the source was honestly given.
Thanks…appreciate the Blog very much
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