Monday, June 22, 2009

Oops! He Did It Again

My minister once preached a sermon in which he explained thoroughly that we don't really know what happened to the disciples - specifically that the stories of their individual martyrdoms were likely legendary. Then he preached a sermon on the martyrdom of the disciples!

This time, he preached on Matthew 17:14
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. "Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him."

"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me." Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
The minister very carefully and explicitly pointed out that the additional verse
"But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting"
is not found in our best manuscripts; experts believe it not to be original; blah blah blah - essentially that this verse is spurious...

...wait for it...

... and then preached an entire sermon on this very verse!!!!

I heard Dr Bart Erhman shift some of the blame for this disconnect between what seminarians learn about the nature of the Bible and what is actually taught to the congregations but I am coming to the conclusion that this misinformation is taught willfully. Our pastor is a very well educated, highly intelligent man. Why would he pull stunts like this? Is it that the the message is more important than the 'truth"? What about the people in the pews? Is it that the congregation is too dense to notice the switcheroo? Given the quality of Sunday School teaching perhaps it really does just go over their heads. Or is it that they just don't give a rip?

I harbor a slender hope that one young person, maybe even 19 or twenty, will hear these side comments a?." Then she will pick up a book by Burton Mack or, *gasp*, Bart Erhman and who knows what might happen next ...

1 comment:

Mystical Seeker said...

You might be interested in the book "The Dishonest Church", by Jack Good, which discusses the way that clergy learn certain things about the Bible in seminary and then ignore what they learned and preach the party line once they become pastors.

I once attended an Episcopal service in which the priest preached on the martyrdom and Peter and Paul. He repeated without comment or question the notion that Peter was martyred in Rome by being crucified upside down. There is simply nothing to substantiate this story, but it does get told a lot. I wonder why people take this kind of stuff for granted (in fact, there is little to no evidence that Peter ever made it to Rome, let alone was martyred there.)