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Sunday, September 27, 2009

I tend towards the didactic

Not that I even know how to spell the word... My comments from the last post are mostly influenced by the fact that I'm not a successful farmer. I tend to miss details, timing of planting, and spraying, and I get these ideas like planting 2 rows of teff and 1 row of fescue, that any sane person would realize is folly. The problem is that you never get ahead if you screw up half your crops every year. I really don't know if I tend towards megalomania as I never get the opportunity!
So on this Sunday I turn my four followers towards some real preaching which I found in my efforts to come up with something orgional to add to our Sunday School lesson which is taken from Proverbs, "Behavior God Abhors"
Click here to read:
Now there is a real sermon!
Yes, I found "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God." I realize there are people who have read this sermon before. You can just skim it if you want.
Also, you should check out the links on the website this is posted on. I found it all quite interesting. It is a glimpse into the Christian culture of 30 years ago. Back when people in the USA accepted the silly teachings of Christianity and rejected the silly teachings of Budhism, Islam, Be Kind to Mother Earth and She will be Kind to You, Death Metal, Brittiany Spears, and PETA.
But, I digress...
You see a lot of criticism of Mr. Edwards based on the imagery of a literal hell and sinners lost with no hope without repentance. I would say three things to that.
(Note: I will use three examples that is a cultural thing for us Westerners, those with other back grounds might use seven examples, or two examples, and those from still other back grounds might wrap themselves with explosives and scream out their examples before blowing themselves up. I will stick with three examples.)
First, the sermon is really long and kind of boring. It really doesn't get ripping until the last half and by that time I suppose everyone would be sleeping, if not for the nasty proctors poking people to keep them awake. (I guess attention spans were longer back then)
Secondly, most people have not had the fortitude to read through the whole sermon. So criticism is based on the comments of people who were forced to read the sermon in high school...
Third, the whole literal hell and sinners lost to the fires thereof is kind of the point. It provides a nice contrast to the "love of God," sermons.
And the point was... Read this paragraph below:

"The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows."

Have you ever heard a sermon where someone spoke with this kind of intensity and used imagery like this? This is amazing. Now of course it would have to be shortened a bit for modern audiences. Each paragraph would make a modern sermon. In fact if I ever had to pitch hit for a preacher I'd just run it as a series. One paragraph per Sunday. It probably wouldn't fly at the old folks home (where our church is held) without admitting where I was lifting my imagery as the old folks are a tad more literate.
I bet if I put it into a powerpoint presentation with a few jokes I could preach it at the local mega-Nazarine church! But, then I suppose I would be missing the point wouldn't I.
I guess I'm just not cut out to be a preacher.

"O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment."

This is almost poetry. The language, the way the words flow. How can I incorporate this into my devotion this morning!

"You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his band, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it."

We are one foot from the grave at all times, one harvest away from bankruptcy, one step off the curb and you are hit by a bus, one thunderstorm away from being struck by lightning, one lottery ticket away from 250 million dollars. We do not see the hand that holds us back or keeps us safe. Is it random fate, salvation in statistical abstracts, or is it the hand of the Divine?

Is it hard to learn to play the Banjo?


  1. So does that question ferret out the banjo players asleep in the back row? We're all back here taking notes, a little nervous about being near enough to the door, wondering what our neighbors in the woods, the angry ones with bows and lots of arrows, think about this wrathful white guy god thing.

    Controlling sheep with fear and fiery tongue gotta be a hard gig to keep up. Two legs or four. I prefer the wrath of the border collie. When critters fosaake the way of the straight and carefully fastened fence, she riseth up and smite them in the pants.

    Playing banjo is easy. Nearest thing to witch hunts you'll face is a trial by really bad banjo jokes.

  2. I was more impressed by the language than by the idea of controlling the sheep. I suppose I'm a little cynical about that issue. The sheep will be controlled one way or another. I suppose today it is by consumerism and meth, and now we have to lock our doors at night, and of course we still have the witch hunts, just by a different name.
    I love the language. The mental picture of furnace of wrath and the bottomless pit. Or the idea that all that brings us security in life is but thin air and should the string of fate (or divine providence) break, as in the hand of God removed, we are but a step from desolation. Put that with Kipling's admonition to gamble all on one throw of the dice and if it fails to pick up what is left and do it again. I think it is all heady stuff. It should be put down with a fiddle and a banjo. People used to study such ideas in grade school! And we thought we were controlled back then. Now its is the stupid rainbow fish and we all just need to get along.
    You really learn how to live life when you may freeze or starve in the winter.
    Then again perhaps I should not listen to the Bailes Brothers late at night anymore.


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