Thursday, December 29, 2011

Going for broke...

Bill Hybels, the guru of Christianity lite and entertainment worship, decided to skip the light and frivolous and preach some substance on Christmas.  Hmmm... what a novel idea?  You can read it all for yourself.  I know that I would be exactly like Bill Hybels and pursue the false and empty dream of giving people what they want--- except for the Confessions, the Creed, the Liturgy, and the Lectionary.  Every Sunday and, especially, Christmas Eve and Day, they force me to come to terms with the great and wondrous message of Scripture in the Incarnation of our Lord.  Though I sort of delight in berating the Bill Hybels of this world, I know the truth.  Were it not for the godly constraints of confession, creed, liturgy, and lectionary, I would be walking down this path, too.  Every Pastor knows in his heart of hearts that he wants to give the people what they want more so than what they need (what God thinks they need).  We are all Jonahs tempted to run away from the hard but true Word of God.  What binds us to the preaching task is that Word and the confession of that Word in the Concordia, creed, liturgy, lectionary, and, yes, hymnoday.  Remove these and we (I) would be left even more vulnerable to the desires to please and the whims of our own feelings.

BTW if a Pastor tells me that he does not secretly want to please people in what he says and does, I either think that man a liar or unworthy of the office.  I have met some Pastors who delighted in preaching the hard Word of the Law and who dispensed the Gospel as stingy Scrooges depleting their own treasure chest by sharing the Good News with others.  I would rather have a flawed Pastor whose heart was a people pleaser but who lived within the constraints of confession, creed, liturgy and lectionary to be faithful than a perfect Pastor who delighted in socking it to the people of God.


Anonymous said...

Bill Hybels is a classic example of
"you can not give what you do not
have." He has no college diploma or
seminary degree. He has had no
intense theological education which
focused on the Biblical texts.
Instead he was a popular youth
"minister" in the Chicago area.
Without ordination he simply had a
passion for Christ based on a summer
camp conversion as a youth. Sadly,
he became a pied piper.

Anonymous said...

Hybels is a poor example of preaching the law and gospel. Sad that this kind of stuff occurs in churches. Thanks for bringing it to light.

Anonymous said...

I posted the following on another Lutheran blog that I follow that linked to the same article, and I think it’s worth repeating, so here it is:

For all the things that Hybels states that are technically “correct”, I still don’t think he gets it. Here’s why:

1. Hybels says: “Those of you who are servants, those of you who humbly put the serving towel over your arm and mimic what Jesus taught us, you will be lifted up, honored; you will have the same kind of blessing in your life that God put on Jesus. That’s the promise.”

Sounds to me like:

A.: He’s still preaching prosperity gospel; and,

B.: He’s still presenting Jesus as a moral example instead of a Savior.

2. Hybels says: “If all of us in this church were to mimic Jesus’ example of humility and servanthood each and every day then we could become the kind of church and the kind of people that the gates of hell cannot prevail against, an unstoppable force for God and for good in our community and in our world,”

Sounds to me like:

See also 1B above.

3. Hybels says: “Studying this passage, several times I thought, ‘man, I want to become more like that guy, more like Jesus.’ And I figured if you showed up on Christmas morning, I think you do too.”

Sounds to me like:

A.: Ummm.... you STUDIED this passage? No way, dude.

B.: See also 1B above.

Even the author of the article comments, “Only through imitating Christ’s example could the purposes of God be advanced in a significant way, Hybels stated, urging his church to demote themselves like Christ and serve.”

Now if the only way that God’s purpose can be advance is for us to IMITATE Christ’s example, what purpose does our BAPTISM serve? What purpose does the EUCHARIST serve? For that matter, what purpose does Christ’s death on the cross serve?

Despite the fact that Hybels actually mentioned Christ in a sermon, I think that the characterization of it still qualifies as “light and superficial.” Not once does Hybels address the reason for the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us – oh sure- he mentions that Christ couldn’t bear the thought of spending eternity without us, but he couches Christ’s sacrifice for us in terms of giving up beauty and splendor, adoration and praise, and all the pleasures of Heaven. He says nothing of our sin, or our salvation through Christ’s sacrifice.

My conclusion is that Hybels lobbed another softball at the audience.


Janis Williams said...

As Rod Rosenbladt says, "The Liturgy protects me from the pastor..."

At least with a liturgical, sacramental church you're O.K. except during the homily. You can put your earbuds in and listen to Law and Gospel when the preacher starts the sermon.... (Also from R. Rosenbladt)

Anonymous said...

Hybels is not a theologically
trained pastor, he is a public
relations creature.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. More information here:

What is Synod not doing that is encouraging LCMS congregations to look elsewhere. Is this the result of congregations so desperate to keep from declining in membership numbers that they are willing to try anything? Who cares if the LCMS pastors of such congregations are synodically trained and insist that they are confessional. By promoting praise bands, by leading all-church studies of Rick Warren's latest book, and by promoting Willow Creek Association books and DVDs for use in small groups, the pastor eventually remains the only confessional person in the congregation.
Would the Kononia Project fix this?


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