It’s Been Worse Than This… and Likely Will be Again

As is common throughout the South, the church I attend has a Wednesday night Bible class/prayer service. This past Wednesday the topic being presented was Ephesians 4, with an emphasis on the effects of the world on Christians. The class was being conducted by one of our two regular preachers, with solicitations for questions from the audience. I had settled in, expecting nothing especially out of the ordinary, when our preacher explained that in the current state of the world the negative influence of the world on Christians is the worst it has ever been in all of history.

I was somewhat taken aback by this statement, and raised my hand to ask a question. The preacher, seeing whose hand was up, for some reason seemed a bit leery of calling on me, but evidently felt obligated to do so. “Do you really believe,” I asked, “that we have it so much worse than Christians of the early church huddled in the catacombs beneath Rome?”

The preacher seemed a bit miffed at my question, but then found his footing and explained that while we may not suffer as much as early Christians, or Christians in other parts of the world, the effects of the world on the church are still the strongest they have ever been. One older brother of the Boomer generation then lent his assent to this argument, explaining that he is incapable of driving down the street without seeing a billboard with a half naked (nekkid?) woman on it.

I agreed that this was indeed unfortunate (and also highly unlikely in our community, but didn’t add that part), but that the early Christians in Corinth couldn’t walk down the street without encountering a half-naked prostitute plying her trade, which is probably worse than a billboard. The preacher then replied, somewhat grumpily, that not all Christians lived in Corinth, which I had to admit was true.

The preacher then begin listing the various ways in which the world exerts its evil influence over Christians. The very first item on his list was “television.” Once again, I raised my hand, now receiving a positively baleful glare from our presiding teacher, who nonetheless felt duty bound to call on me for a question. “Since television is the number one way the world influences Christians,” I asked, “have you disconnected your TV?” Now all eyes were wide, and I believe I may have heard a few snickers as the preacher managed to be both flummoxed and indignant at the same time.

“Well maybe you have a problem with TV!” he finally shot back at me. I then explained that first of all, I do not believe we live in the worst time ever for worldly influence, and secondly, he was the one who had listed TV as the number one avenue of worldly corruption. The intrepid cleric then advised the entire audience, along with myself, that TV was not a problem for him, but he was concerned that it might be for the rest of us. Through all of this I refrained from telling him my TV was disconnected years ago, as it seemed it would have been unsporting to mention that fact.

After a bit of meandering back and forth, I brought up Christ’s admonition that if your eye causes you to sin you should pluck it out rather than be cast into hell with it still in your head. I questioned whether anyone who believes that TV is such a pernicious influence, but will not remove it from his home, is following either the spirit or the letter of this command. At this point the preacher realized that time had expired for this week’s class. I must admit that in all fairness I felt quite uplifted yesterday evening.

Yes, along with everything else…

Apropos of above…

Crazy people are dangerous…

MOAR evangelical craziness…

Can’t choose your relatives….

Learning from mistakes of the past…


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2 responses to “It’s Been Worse Than This… and Likely Will be Again

  1. Many teachers fail to realize that the work of ministry is done through their interactions with the members of the congregation, and not so much through what they teach, although that is also important.

  2. If that pastor couldn’t handle uncomfortable questions or points of debate brought up by his own flock, I’m hardpressed to imagine how he would handle hardball questions or raw skepticism from non-believers. Or does he just avoid those people altogether (most professional churchians do)?

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