Many thanks to Don from our whole SFL community for sticking this out and reporting on what he saw. It’s been an experience to read it all
Well, this is the final installment. I will admit this one was the hardest to get through. However, I had an epiphany from this week of “Preaching” and I would like to share it with you all.
Close your eyes and turn away from the computer screen. Face the room you are in, and open your eyes. Then come back to the screen. The brain is an amazing organ in our bodies. In that moment when you turned away and opened your eyes millions of bits of information were taken in from all of your senses and processed by the brain. All of what your eyes took in, all of what your ears took in, all of the smells your nose took in, all of the tactile stimuli that may have been available (heat, cold, breeze…) At one moment your brain took in and processed all of that information.
Now in normal conversation one party speaks while the other listens. We take in information, we process that information, running it through our truth filters, our worldview filters, and what we agree with, we give our validation to… what we disagree with we reject and give reason as to why we do not agree. That is in normal conversation.
So what happens when the conversation is only one sided? What happens when the conversation prohibits anything other than positive feedback? That is what passes for preaching in America these days.
Now, in normal conversation an idea is posited and there is back and forth dialogue between the parties. In Americanized preaching there is, in fact, an information overload that is produced by a rhetorical manipulation storm. Remember in our example we said all that information was taken in. There are things we actively focused on and things that were taken in without actively thinking about them. I submit that this is what happens in the lecture series found in most pulpits in America and especially in the IFB movement. This style of preaching does not allow for any questioning, or dissent. It is easily recognizable. It is often found in a rapid-fire rant. “Your heart is full of wickedness and sin so long as you don’t agree with what your man of god preaches amen? So long as you harbor sin in your heart, so long as you cling to your pride and so long as you are stubbornly hold to your rebellion, so long as you men will not get a hair cut, so long a you ladies will not submit to your husbands, so long as you rob god each week by withholding you tithes and offerings, and so long as you hinder the work of the spirit in our lives then the price of peanut butter will cause you to listen to rock and roll the devil’s music, will lead you to have sex and do drugs and vote for democrats.”
If that is said in less than five seconds, then you have a rhetorical manipulation storm. If it is hollered at you from the pulpit in less than five seconds and the next salvo is then unleashed, an interesting phenomenon occurs. For those who already want to believe they passively let all of that flow past their normal filters and the brain processes the whole sermon as truth. There are some who will try to filter what is said but only catch one or two things but the rest is automatically taken in and the brain will process the bulk of what is said as acceptable. Preachers count on this. The ability to overwhelm your natural defenses with tons of sound bites and religious sounding phrases, in order to push and agenda and persuade their listeners that what they are preaching is truth.
The Friday evening speakers were masters of this style of manipulation. R B Ouellette and Joe Arthur.
When it came to taking notes for these two it was beyond my ability to write that fast. The rants were strung together and were coming out at around 5000 rpm (rants per minute) So for the purpose of this final posting I will listen to them again.
Opening song: “When the Roll is called up yonder”
Opening monologue by Smith
R B Ouellette was introduced as one who knocks doors, and runs busses, runs busses and knocks doors.
The hall is packed for the Friday finale.
Ouelette’s Opening Monologue:
Quotable Quote: “I have a limited amount of time and along number of points.”
(This got a loud amen from some guy down front. That should tell you how the rest of the evening went. )
Text: 1 Samuel 17:22-29
-Made mention of the trend of young preachers wearing goatees. He tries not to be overly critical so long as they use the King James Bible, Preach and go soul winning. I think he pointed out a preacher he knew who was there.
-Read the Text
-got to verse 29 and misquoted verse 29 and made it say, “There is not a cause.”
Story time: Told story behind text about David and his brothers, about the Philistines and about Goliath.
Quotable Quote:”and you heard me read “There is not a cause.” You say your read that wrong. I read it wrong, but I read it wrong on purpose.” (Ok, so if the King James is Inspired, Infallible, Inerrant, Perfect and Preserved… why is he interjecting error on purpose? We have heard this week that it is a sin for any pastor to get up and say, “Well that may not be the best interpretation of this word or that word. But now its ok for him to deliberately misread a passage in order to build his sermon??)
Title There is not a cause.
I want to talk to you tonight on that topic, “there is not a cause.”
*The voice is beginning to be raised and the points are picking up speed.
-When goliath was defying the army of Israel there was not cause for the Israeli army
Story time: When he was a young preacher going to meetings there were always reposts of somebody getting saved, talk about how many were saved, How many were being baptized, How many came on the buses. Always someone at the meeting who had lead someone to Christ. Come to the Sword conference and had the hardest time finding anybody who wasn’t saved. (Pay close attention to his definition of getting someone saved. ) to the maid, the clerk at the hotel, to the people at the restaurants. Everybody understood we were sent out to get the gospel to every creature. (And every creature learned how to play your game if they wanted to keep from being harassed by overzealous folks who were out to make soul winning numbers look good. )
His personal soul winning story du jour
“Checked in today gave the lady a tract. She said your room might not be ready cause we have a big conference, the Sword of the Lord is here this week. (I would love to know the room count for this conference and the economic impact it has locally. )
QQ “Let me ask you a question , I imagine you get a lot of these (tracts)?
She said, ‘Oh a few.”
Are you going to heaven?
She said, “I hope so.”
I said its not hard, and I gave her the gospel and she agreed to trust Christ.
(Wham bam thank you ma’am. And another one is saved, just like that.)
“You are supposed to that everywhere you go.”
QQ “There was a time when we weren’t just trying to hold out, or hand on or see if we could get by (here comes the Old Paths lament) We were burning with a passion to start churches, build schools and set out good music.”
-we would read it right about our behaviour (King James Spelling of course) and ask, “WHAT HAVE I NOW DONE? THERE IS NOT A CAUSE!”
-There is not a cause when God’s people allow his name to be maligned
-We live in an era where the name of our God and our Saviour (kjv sp) is maligned and defiled
-“We live in an era where people tell us God woul be really unfair if he sent everybody to heaven (sic). So Rob bell writes a book entitled Love Wins. God wouldn’t be so mean to let anybody die and god to hell/ a loving god woul never send anybody to hell. By the way that’s a true statement. A loving God never sends anybody to hell. The sinner who dies and goes to hell has to spurn God’s grace, ignore God and reject God. He has to climb over the cross which God has erected as a barrier to keep man out of hell” *(Is THAT the purpose of the cross? Thankfully, I must not be reading the same Bible he is. ) From here he goes on a roll and a rant against Campus Crusade for Christ changing their name.
-talks about town meetings where they won’t allow prayer in Jesus’ name. (specific reference to the local Forsyth county board meetings.) You can pray in other names, and pray to other things. You and I who name the name of our saviour (kjv sp.) had better not go along with it. “SOMEBODY IN THE PULPIT, SOMEBODY ON THE PLATFORM AND SOMBODY IN THE LINE AT THE GROCERY STORE OUGHT TO SAY, I LOVE JESUS! ”
-There is not a cause, when God’s people are more concerned with their safety then they are god’s testimony.
-It didn’t bother God’s army what the Philistines said about God but it bothered them that they might get their heads cut off.
Talks about being afraid to say things in the pulpit that might lose their tax exemption
(The sermon is on a roll now. He is so loud and talking so fast that you can only make out a few words. Yet the Amens are being shouted back just as loud and just as fast. I truly believe that at this point he could say “praise Lucifer” and the crowd would give him an AMEN! So long as he kept up the volume and the rate of rolling phrases. )
-He says pastors are coming up to him wondering what to do now the IFB has been outed on 20/20. He sad he wouldn’t even know what channel it was on (yeah, right! But he has the statistics on how many watched it)
when asked “What do you think we ought to do!??” He says, “Oh, probably just have church tomorrow.”
QQ “Idiots out there are changing their names from Independent to Autonomous.”
-Who watched 20/20 the other night?
-Gave the statistics quoting the viewer numbers.
-Didn’t start a fight but was always taught to finish one.
Story Time About his dad, the mission where his dad preached, his own meanness, blah, blah, blah.
– Then starts a rant on the KJV issue. Says he wasn’t looking for a fight (but this evening he set up and beat the stuffing out of an army of anti-King James forces.
-“I’M NOT LOOKING FOR A FIGHT BUT BY THE GRACE OF GOD I WILL NEVER RUN AWAY!!”
*(He is a master of the Delphi Method)
-God’s people should be motivated by legitimate rewards
– Never seen the righteous forsaken or begging bread….
– Tired of hearing about what you have given up to serve
-Another testimonial regarding Wm Carey (pretty good mileage for a Reformed Baptist with Post mil leanings)
-The more a church grows the less it seems the pastor goes soul winning. (Ok that does it, I’ll pick this fight. For Heaven’s sake someone show me where Christians are commanded to win souls! What does it mean to win souls? Please limit you definition to the New Testament and don’t refer back to Proverbs 11:30. Because Proverbs 11:30 does not say what winning souls means either. Last time I checked we were to be witnesses and make disciples, not just get people to say they believe something on a card or a tract so we can count them to increase our “soul winning:” numbers! )
-There is not a cause, when God’s people criticize those who “are” willing to fight.
“You just lead that lady at the hotel tonight to the Lord so you would have something to talk about.” What was your excuse for not doing it?
When I was a young man at camp they spent a good section on everyday teaching you how to win people to Christ. One day, on Thursday, we didn’t have ball games, we didn’t go swimming we went out to the sidewalk sales and the campgrounds and we gave people the gospel and saw people saved. I came back to our GRB Church in the Detroit area. At the mission my dad said son tell pastor so-n-so what you did. “Well pastor we went out and we won 12 (That part was so garbled I couldn’t make out the number but it sounded like 12) The Pastor said, “aw, its too bad you couldn’t follow up on them.” (Play close attention to his response) We got their names and we told them of some churches they could go to. It was strange that the pastor didn’t say, Praise the Lord, I’m happy people got saved (then in a very condescending tone) but you didn’t follow up.
-Talks about you fruit should endure, talks about the parable of the sower.
-Starts a hypothetical argument between a group that focuses on children vs. a group that focuses on adults.
QQ “”If you’re not passing out tracts, if you’re not getting people the Gospel, if you’re not doing your part, THEN SHUT YOUR CRITICAL MOUTH and let other people do something to get people to Christ.”
Quote of the evening:
“How many are sincere? I haven’t the faintest idea how many are sincere but I know I’m sincere and I know the Bible (garbled) …to God I’m in better shape even if everybody I talk to is insincere” (the shouting is at fever pitch now)
-No there’s not a cause when the people of God are willing to criticize those who are willing to fight.
-“There’s not a cause when the People of God see success as a result of a method instead of as evidence of God’s power.” (Yep, after touting the success of his 1-2-3 repeat after me soul winning method he says this. )
Then he goes on to quote the SBC’s baptism numbers and says that’s about 9 per SBC church and calls those low numbers a travesty.
-Then he talks about the power of God and how we need it. ( for t5he past 50-55 minutes he has been all about a man centered effort and works then here in the last few minutes of his sermon he’s going to throw God a bone? Really? )
-John Rice testimonial
-The Battle is the Lord’s (returning to the text)
-the battle is not yours to quit.
-We are soldiers
-Begins a rant about not being in the battle.
-Get up and report for duty
Put on your armour, put on the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God
Pick up the sword and stick the devil in the gizzard.
Bear Bryant Story
Dr Parker story
Is there not a cause… it’s up to you.
Congregational song: Stand up for Jesus
Soul Winning update for the week (48) were saved by the crew that went down town all week. Another (7) were saved by free lance work. 52 for the week.
Then there was a special singing that was supposed to look like the Spirit of the Lord was just moving on these folks to come up from the floor and sing. It was painfully rehearsed and came off as cheesy.
Joe Arthur was up next.
His text was Luke 24:32 (a one verse super saint)
In his opening monologue he gave a glowing testimonial to Shelton Smith and the SOTL conference. Then he said, “God’s still got some preachers getting the job done. We may be few and we may be faint but we’re still pursuing.”
-The Road to Emmaus
I could go through it point by point but by now you get the gist of the conference. Joe is a rhetorical phraseologist and he spits them out faster than you can write them down. It was almost comical because there was a guy in the audience who kept calling out: Preach!, Go On!, Amen!. Preach!… it sounded like he was calling in plays from the sidelines when his team was in the red zone.
Joe was on the beam as well. I believe he hit all the requisite topics with a zeal worthy of an IFB veteran preacher. He had the crowd in his hand and was getting a high number of Amens and PiB’s per minute. It was Preachertainment at it’s best. A good one to end the conference on.
I was a bit surprised that the altar call at the end was not a emotional, guilt inducing, pew clearing, hankie fest… but it was just a fizzle.
In the end the SOTL honored Bobby and gave him an early birthday present. They gave him a copy of one of those framed 1620 KJV Bible leafs. (A $480 value if you joined the Diamond Level VIP Sword Club)
Well, I’ve come to the end. I fought doing this all weekend because I knew that I was going to have to listen to those sermons over again. I will admit that in the end I was finally over whelmed. No one can take note that fast and that is exactly what they want. To coin a Fundie Phrase, “if you throw enough stuff at the wall, something will stick.”
I did take away this. I believe there are many folks who believe because they want to believe and I believe there are men who capitalize on that and manipulate it for their own personal gain, be it financial, prestige or power. I believe there are men who are in the system and don’t see it for what it is and truly don’t know any better.
At no time have you seen me question any of their sincerity or their salvation. That is not for me to judge. I have attacked the excesses and the ideas that I believe to be demonstrably false. I have come away with a renewed sense of thankfulness to no longer be a part of what I believe to nearly be a cult. I also have a sense of pity for those who are so caught up in this man-centered religion. I fear for those who worship a particular English translation of the Bible. The worship of the 1611 King James Bible is idolatry. It is worshipped more than the one who wrote it and who it is about. I also fear for those who have reduced salvation to a hit-n-run event. Who don’t care if the hearer was sincere or not but you count them anyway. There will be many in that day who will say Lord, Lord…. All because someone read them a tract, told them they were saved and moved on without showing them Christ as their life. I fear for and pity those who treat the Gospel as such a cheap method of “Soul Winning.” They will answer to the Lord for their actions. As will I. I stand by what I have reported here. And to God I will answer for it, but my conscience is clear.