Monday, September 1, 2008

What Price Relevance?

The August 31st edition of the Washington Post featured a front page article on the preaching of pastor Robert Seagears of Christ Chapel Mountaintop in Virginia.

Here is an exerpt:

"Good morning, Mountaintop!" he growled to the congregation before launching into his Sunday sermon based on the R-rated, curse-filled Hollywood hit "Tropic Thunder." The audience chuckled at his grizzly soldier act, and gave him some loud "Amens!"

If there were an Oscar for sermons, Seagears would be a contender. There's his "Dark Knight" performance, when he roared up to the pulpit astride a Suzuki motorcycle, dressed like Batman. And his whip-cracking Indiana Jones, and his green-suited Hulk.

Perhaps most memorable was when he bumbled out wearing a ratty wig and a blood-red smile across his face, ranting like a maniac. "When I went into the church as the Joker, there was complete silence," Seagears recalled fondly. "People were stunned because I was acting as if I was evil."

Seagears bases each week's message on the highest-grossing movie the previous weekend. He sees the movie, then prays about how to extract a biblical message.

He has had to see movies with violence and language he would otherwise avoid. Last month he saw "Hellboy II: the Golden Army," in which an evil prince seeks to resurrect an indestructible army to take over the Earth by assembling pieces of a magical crown.

We, too, have invaluable crowns, Seagears preached, rewards God has prepared for those who love and serve him faithfully.

Is this what must be done in order to be relevant? Is the pastor's job to disguise truth in a "fun" wrapper? What does this sort of thing communicate about the gravity of truth and the Gospel?

Any thoughts?

I am reminded of Charles Spurgeon's Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats.


case.jess said...


This post will be cause for some chuckles in my Christian Preaching class later this week. Thanks!

Todd Pruitt said...

I'm thinking guest speaker.

This IS what they're teaching at Southern these days right?

Pete Morris said...

We couldn't even get you in a bunny suit for Easter.

case.jess said...

We just wrapped up our sessions on Big Trouble in Little China this week.

Next week we start in on Teen I'd better look through my notes.

Jolly said...

Big Trouble in Little China? That is hilarious, Casey. You're cracking me up.

case.jess said...

So far this semester we've covered:

--Judge[s] Dredd

--1 & 2 Chronicles of Riddick

--1 & 2 Kings of Comedy

--James and the Giant Peach

--1 & 2 Peter Pan

Also, our weekend retreat will feature teachings on contemplative spiritual practices from the classic movie 'Captain Ron'. You can never get enough Kurt...