Monday, December 1, 2008

Still Offensive

It is a blessed and solemn thing to preach Christ and Him crucified. Christ's atoning work is the centerpiece of our faith and ground of our hope. It is simultaneously God's most graphic display of love and excrusiating moment of judgement. The cross is where God's justice and mercy meet. It is the complete vindication of His holiness and the most outrageous expression of His love. The cross is the grand fulfillment of God's redemptive purpose.

But the cross is still offensive. Indeed, the cross is just as weak and foolish and scandalous as it was when Jesus began announcing his intention to go to Jerusalem and die.

What is surprising is to see what a stumbling block the cross is in the church. Too many professing Christians want a helpful Jesus-as-lifecoach. They don't want the bloodied Messiah weighed down under the wrath of God for our sin. They want a guru, a spiritual advisor, or a divine guaranteur of success and health. The crucified Substitute however is still the scandalon.

The words of an email I received yesterday illustrate the point well:
"Must every sermon be about Christ bloodied and dying on the cross as the 'real' meaning of Christmas shared by the 'enlightened' as if we hadn't heard it before? Isn't there enough time during Lent, Easter and the rest of the year to teach that lesson?"

Of course, yesterday was my first sermon as pastor of COS. But so far, everyone of them has dealt with the centrality of Christ and Him crucified. We'll see what the second sermon brings.

The man who sent that email went on to praise the ministry and teaching of Joel Osteen which I believe is very instructive. I will not ridicule the man. That is why I will not print his name or the entire message. Clearly he is someone in pain. I pray that the Lord will change his heart.

I would simply say that too many evangelicals haven't "heard it before." Clearly that lesson has not been taught adequately "during Lent, Easter and the rest of the year."

I suppose if there is something wrong with our preaching of the cross if we never get messages like the one I received yesterday.

10 comments:

toothdoc said...

Glad to know you are still preaching "truth" out east. btw, when will the sermon be posted on COSnet?

Todd Pruitt said...

Good to hear from you Ric.

I think the sermon audio is generally posted on Monday. Not sure why it isn't posted yet.

Harley A. said...

I'm afraid way too many downgrade the gospel to a "lesson" rather than understanding it as the grand theme. Not everyone at MEBC liked it, nor will everyone ANYWHERE like it.

Keeping preaching it !

BTW - I'm really looking forward to your LENT series...

toothdoc said...

Harley brings up a good point. Do we still refer to your messages as "sermons" or are they "homilies" now that you are outside of the SBC. I also heard that the Crystal Cathedral is needing pulpit supply, maybe you could swing to the left coast for a Sunday and speak.

Todd Pruitt said...

Harley,
Maybe by the time I get to Lent I can preach some self-help sermons.

Ric,
I still call them sermons. Although homily does have that northeastern flair.

I heard about the Crystal Cathedral thing. Apparently Robert Sr. didn't like the fact that Robert Jr. was referencing the Bible in his "messages". If you were to listen to the younger Schuller you would see that referencing the Bible is all he was doing but it shows just how far out Schuller Sr. truly is.

Bill Weber said...

Isn't part of the reason for the centrality of the cross that all Christian doctrine can be traced back to the cross like the spokes on a wheel? So, for example, the love, mercy, justice, sovereignty, holiness, wisdom, power, and glory and any other attribute of God are seen most clearly at the cross. Man's depravity and dignity is also seen most clearly at the cross. Eschatology comes into focus in the already and not yet of Christ's suffering and glory at the cross. The meaning of sanctification comes into clearest focus at the cross, as does justification and propitiation.

Thus, the man's objection, which at least in part seems to focus on the too confined focus of the cross, is actually much broader.

Todd Pruitt said...

Bill,

You are absolutely right.

One of the things the man wrote in his email was that I didn't say anything about the love of God.

But what is the proclamation of the cross? Surely it speaks to more than just the love. But Christ dying in the place of sinners is the ver apex of all love.

Mainline Mom said...

ACK! I have never heard the term "homily" used in any protestant church here in the northeast...only Roman Catholic mass. We call it the sermon or the message.

Living in Houston now I am constantly reminded about how much people love Osteen. I find myself constantly biting my tongue when people rave about him. It just boggles my mind a bit that he has no theology degree.

Todd Pruitt said...

Joel Osteen has no business being a pastor. On numerous television interviews he has said that his
"gifting" is not explain the Bible. Outrageous!

Pastors are ambassadors of Christ who do not have the luxury of deciding what message they want to preach. Pastors are charged to preach the Word of God. If a man is unable to preach God's Word then he has no business being a pastor.

Joel Osteen is both unwilling and unable to rightly handle the Word of God. Scripture has some devestating warnings for shepherds who fail to be faithful to God's Word.

The pop-psychology, self-help, gospel-drestroying drivil that Joel Osteen doles out to his adoring fans is nothing short of heresy.

rmkton said...

re: Joel Osteen...I am glad we agreed on something! talk about your man-centered gospel...wow.