Monday, November 21, 2011

Comment to Congregation

A few weeks ago a local Pastor (here in Clearwater, FL) made the following comment to his congregation during a Sunday morning worship service: “The ministry is the only profession where we send our brightest young men and women off to study at the Masters and Doctorial level, and when they come back to us we don’t allow them to tell us what they learned.”

Most of you—I believe—will understand what the good Pastor was inferring. For those who may be puzzled by the Pastors comment, let me explain; The Christian doctrine seminary students learn is NOT the Christian doctrine that you and I have been taught since childhood. The doctrine taught in most seminaries today is an academic understanding of the Christian religion that has developed over the past 250-300 years. It reflects our current knowledge of the cosmos, the human mind and the natural laws of the world in which we live. In my book, GIVING VOICE TO THE SILENT PULPIT, I refer to this as Academic Christianity. In many ways it is diametrically opposed to the doctrine you and I were taught as children and what we hear on a weekly basis from the pulpit of our local church. This I refer to as Popular Christianity.

The differences between these two adaptations of the Christian faith are so divergent that a young Pastor, fresh out of seminary, would likely never reveal his/her new knowledge to a pastoral search committee for fear of being immediately rejected for any potential ministerial position. Why? Because most Christians—the people in the pews—expect to hear nothing from the pulpit but the doctrine they grew up with. The same doctrine our forefathers (and foremothers) believed and taught them in their younger years. They are devoted to those basic ancient beliefs. They have invested too much of their mental security in those values to allow new knowledge to invade their ‘cocoon of religious comfort.’

And so . . . our newly educated Pastor, in order to secure a job, must acquiesce to the presumed desires of the multitudes and preach only the ancient, outdated, obsolete and basically irrelevant Popular doctrine of the past.

The victims in this charade: -

· The people in the pews—who are denied an intellectually honest understanding of their faith.

· The Pastors—who must, daily, perjure themselves in pastoral contact with their parishioners.

· Society at large—which is deprived of intellectual growth and maturity.

The winners: -

· Those who would use religion to impose their particular brand of social ethics on others.

· Those, around the world who, today, use the ‘word’ or ‘will’ of God to terrorize, murder and oppress others in the name of religion.

If the church is to survive this duality in doctrine, honesty must prevail.

Learn more about this struggle between Popular and Academic Christianity (including ten side-by-side examples) in my new book—GIVING VOICE TO THE SILENT PULPIT.

More information at

Barry e