By Larry Ray Hafley
A number of years ago, I was shocked and appalled when I attended a “rally” conducted by the ultra liberal Darby Drive church in Florence, Alabama. There were, “Let’s see who can shout, ‘amen,’ the loudest” contests, and there were laughter and applause for “soul stirring,” “keynote” addresses. I was startled-“clapping and applause for the cause,” I suppose.
Well, they cheer and clap for Oral Roberts and Jim Bakker, so I guess we can cheer our brethren. If we can borrow other denominational hoopla-clowns, parties, games and such like-then we ought to be able to clap for sermons. Would I dare to suggest modestly clad cheerleaders? Could we chant, “two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?” Would exciting cheers prime a preacher to soar to the alps of oratorical resplendence?
But what if the preacher blows it? I mean, what if he fans on his face? What if he misquotes his texts? What if he cites the wrong passages to sustain his points? What if he is dry, dull and boring? What if he really messes up? Since we can clap and applaud, can we also hiss and boo? If we can smile and laugh at a good sermon, can we jeer and sneer at a bad one? Can we heckle?
And 1, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine . . . . In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity” (Tit. 2:1,7). “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of” (1 Cor. 9:16). “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God which trieth our hearts . . . . Not of men sought we glory, neither of you” (1 Thess. 2:4,6). “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
Could we now have a nice round of applause for the verses above?
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 13, p. 394
July 4, 1985