Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Illustration-a-day: Doubts that Shout

Frank Schaeffer recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post entitled, "Franklin Graham, Religious Extremism, Dad, God and Me (Confessions of a Former Religious Nut Leader)". His basic argument is that people with the most doubts tend to shout more loudly and more harshly than others. Actually, that's not quite his point. He has plenty of doubts and doesn't seem to be prone to shouting anymore. More accurately, perhaps, is the idea that people with repressed doubts shout with a ferocity that leads to extremism.

Another insightful point in the article is Schaeffer's assertion that all Christian leaders suffer from the temptation to be relevant. This temptation leads them to use a rhetoric of certainty that often goes beyond the reality of their own beliefs. Whether we should paint all Christian leaders with as broad a brush as Schaeffer does, the article raises some challenging thoughts that might work their way into a sermon.

  • What do the struggles of the children of celebrity Christians (who have seen their fathers' feet of clay) teach us about the tendency of Christians to treat their leaders as infallible? Do just the children of the leaders suffer or do we all suffer in some way?

  • What is the role of uncertainty and doubt in faith? Is uncertainty the same thing as being humble? The Pharisees in John 9 had lots of certainty, but they didn't have faith, nor were they very humble.

  • What is the role of being relevant in the proclamation of the gospel? In what ways does attempting to be relevant, important, significant create problems for the church?

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