Friday, May 7, 2010

Larry Starett on 1 Corinthians 7:12-16

1 Corinthians 7:12-16 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

I was asked to review this sermon by the pastor of First Baptist Church in Chesterton, IN.

1. Does the pastor explain the text correctly? I think there is a problem with preaching a sermon on this short passage of Scripture. The pastor misses the point because he misses the context. It would seem better to have preached about what Jesus said on divorce and to bring this passage in as a commentary on that text or at least to preach. Some lectionaries use vs. 1-28 for one of the epistle readings and there seems to be some wisdom in using that larger chunk. The letter itself was probably intended originally to be read as an entire sermon in one sitting. So the pastor ends up preaching a sermon on a little part of someone else's sermon. Verses 12-16 are controversial and hae been interpreted a number of different ways. The pastor gives one of the more popular interpretations but spends more time appealing to authorities like Calvin and Luther and talking about how long he has studied this rather than preaching the text or even offering a thorough explanation for his interpretation. Some of the interpretive problems seem to be a result of a lack of familiarity with the Biblical languages. The pastor seems to be relying solely on the NIV. In verse 14 the NIV uses the word "bound." The ESV uses the word "enslaved," which is a more accurate translation. The pastor makes the claim that the word in verse 14 is the same word found in Romans 7:2. But the Greek words are different and have different meanings. The pastor did stay pretty close to the text but he did not preach it correctly. (-0.5)

2. Is the law preached lawfully? Absolutely not. The law is preached as completely doable and very weakly. The pastor keeps emphasizing that Christians can disagree on this issue. He seems to believe that certain practices are sinful but says that people who disagree with him and practice these things should not be barred from church membership. Engaging in this sin would only keep them from serving in leadership positions in the church. Everyone could have walked away thinking that they had perfectly kept God's law or that if they were breaking it, God would look the other way. The law should instead be preached sternly to show everyone there that they are a sinner and worthy of God's wrath. Otherwise Jesus is completely unnecessary. (-1)

3. Is Jesus mentioned? Jesus barely sneaks in by the skin of his teeth. He gets mentioned once in the last two minutes of the sermon. Unbelievers are told that if they put their faith in Jesus they can plug into the power supply and be transformed. I don't even know what that means exactly. It seemed to mean that their marriages would improve which seems strange given the passage in which unbelievers were leaving believing spouses. Jesus is never even presented as necessary for the believer. (-1)

4. Is the sermon about what Jesus has done for us? No. It's all about what we should do. (-1)

5. Does the creation of a wordle show a Christian focus in the sermon? I do not have the text of the sermon but I can guarantee that it would not. (-1)

The final score is -4.5 or 5%.

The current standings are:
James Roemke (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) 100% A


NewKidontheBlogg said...

Curious. . .

"With intention of *not* pursuing the ministry" but the intention of evaluating sermons. Do people present sermons to you for you to evaluate the content on this blog?

What does the "creation of a wordle" mean?


Chuck Wiese said...

Sometimes people go to a church and hear a sermon and want me to evaluate it. I've developed some criteria by listening to Issues Etc., Tabletalk Radio, and Fighting For the Faith. I have attempted to create an objective numeric grade. The evaluation does not include delivery, just content. You can learn about Wordles here: Basically you copy and paste text or type your own text in and Wordle creates a word cloud for you. It puts the most commonly used words in larger print. If "Jesus" or "Christ" or some other reference to Jesus shows up as the predominant word then the sermon receives a better grade. If there was no reference to Jesus then it really isn't a Christian sermon.