The Preacher as Panderer: The End of Evangelism

   Another Bible Study from a Southwestern viewpoint, replete with its emphasis on individualism (which has as little to do with individual salvation as first grade arithmetic does to quantum physics) will not cause any person you know to change his daily schedule. You preach it because it is acceptable and that marks you as normal and normal is likable.

   You toe the party line in your presentations. On some rare occasions you step slightly outside the camp but your next sentence is designed to lighten the impact of the previous one. You need not do much more thinking than  what a first year seminary student would do, and, if you do that kind of thinking, you keep it to yourself.

   You are a squalid panderer. You do not want to be a panderer but you need approval for you are the kind of person who needs approval in the kind of powerless profession that requires approval for survival.

    You must be likable, normal, approved, to survive politically. In fact, political opinions (anything that can get voted on or acted on by the group that licenses us) is inevitably set in economic concerns. Few among us can view a social issue (anything that touches the least of these, His brethren) without serious consideration of our professional interests.

   Politics (from the Latin polus, meaning "many," later to mean "the people;" for a definition, see previous paragraph) will forever be a factor in all we do because it is that place where conscience and power convene their meeting. Uneasy compromises will always be the result where idealism and pragmatism work out their struggles.

   In purely "ethical" or "idealistic" political actions, it is amazing how little of substance actually occurs. In politics of "coercion" or "pragmatism," it is stunning how that which is possible most often coincides with the interests of the powerful, the wealthy, the well-connected. "Idealistic" political machinations most often end in a catastrophe of dueling consciences. Pragmatic politics most often result in a telling revolt.

   Pragmatic political action can result in peace if one defines peace as the absence of the kind of activity that would interrupt one's daily schedule. The same power that brings this temporal peace usually results in some kind of injustice in order to maintain its position in order to maintain the peace. The injustice awakens the sleeping conscience of some but the preachers are notably absent from ethical forays in our day. Religion pays in our day, some times a living wage and in many cases it pays much, much more. There is more to lose. We know to keep our mouths shut and our eyes open on our wallets.

   So, you are a panderer. You wish you were not but what can one fellow do anyway? You watch as one group ousts another, noting inevitably that the development of any kind of social power breeds social inequality. You are a colonist, sending raw materials to the mother land, buying back more expensive manufactured goods, and so doomed to be the lower end of the food chain, intellectually and morally. You will watch well placed thieves and liars loot the body politic and then retire, to the standing ovations of the naked and the fleeced. You will hope one day you can be the wolf, or at least avoid his ravaging jaws.

   You are a panderer. You are watching a way of life die in order to maintain your way of life now. You do not lack courage. You simply have sense enough not to use it.

   You are a panderer. Your beliefs will die with you. Some poor fellow or woman will have to take up the banner, since they have so little to lose.



4 thoughts on “The Preacher as Panderer: The End of Evangelism”

  1. Rick,
    Have you considered counseling for this condition you are in. My tongue is planted deeply in cheek.
    As for me, my favorite pulpit sits in the highways and hedges or neighborhoods as the case may be. I cause myself a lot of trouble in my official pulpit.
    Dan Wooldridge

  2. If most preachers really preached what they believed or thought, there would be more empty pulpits.
    So we bite our tongues to “save” our jobs. While our integrity slowly ebbs away.

  3. Part of this scenario is developed from the effort to evangelize into the land of people who ‘go along to get along’. Once they are ‘in’ they decide that they have a voice, and will use that voice to influence the focus of the pulpit. So rather than lose the voice to these potential or new converts, thus becoming an exclusive club of saints without fingers into the sinnerland while losing the monetary benefit of including them, the preacher does what he has to inorder to ‘getalong’.
    Shall your church service be bereft of any but the children of members who need discipleship to conversion?
    How does one include in the service and yet exclude from participation the potential convert?

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