Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Bible and my Christian faith

Recently I went back to Singapore and worshiped at my old family church. Its a very old church - created a long time ago primarily to witness to the Malay people. But the Malay Christians were few in number and the converts were mostly Peranakan Chinese - Chinese people who had settled in the Straits Settlements and spoke Malay as their first language.

Some changes unsettled me. They had removed the old ornate church pulpit from its position in the left side of the sanctuary - cut off the small connecting staircase and the wooden carvings - and stuck a new simple plywood construction in the middle of the sanctuary.

Now I understand why they did that. In a lot of churches - they believe that the preaching of God is central to the Christian faith.

Personally I think that idea is in error. I believe it is the worship of God that should be central in the service. Moreover by alleviating the preacher's status - it is also giving too much emphasis upon the Bible and upon the preacher - ie its human centric.

We don't worship the Bible. We worship God the Father. The Bible should only be seen as a means to get to know God - not the focal point of the believer.

We read from the Bible how to pray - ie The Lord's Prayer. But that requires us to focus not so much on the words but on God.

Another issue is the whole idea of preaching - I don't know about you but I often find that most of the sermons are absolutely meaningless - a pure waste of time as we sit in the pews, staring into space while the preacher drones on and on and on and on upon some obscure theological issue or simply torturing the words in the scripture to squirrel out some facet or nuance that caught his idea.

I'd rather if the preacher has not much to say - that he just say a few meaningful words - and then allow the congregation to spend the next 30 minutes in silent reflection in the House of God.

30 mins? Most sermons run way way too long. I've been to some services where the sermons ran for over 4 hours - the preacher really didn't prepare anything to say and what just talking off the top of her top. They called it inspired preaching.

But was it inspired by God or by a human being's inflated sense of self-worth? Were they channeling the Spirit of God or their own ego?

I place great importance on the preacher - they are representing the mouth of God, the word of God incarnate and they jolly well better take that position with seriousness.

Unless the preacher has something really meaningful to say - and they often don't - I think most sermons could be done in 10 minutes.

The other major flaw in Princep church's preaching is that its simply too academic. It runs like a university lecture. I'm not sure whether they realize this but when Jesus preached - he kept the message simple - and he often used real world examples that his listeners could appreciate.

What really saddens me is that the preachers often fail to appreciate the gravity and importance of their position - they are speaking on behalf of God. When they speak nonsense or cleverly thought up academic dissertations on the scripture - they are just pushing people further away from Jesus.

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