St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Wednesday, December 11, 2002 ::

Does Truth = Sincerity?

The epistle readings in the lectionary for the past few days have especially intrigued me. One passage in particular grabbed my attention, in light of a situation that is developing at a friend's church.

The passage is 2 Thess. 2:9-14 (RSV). It reads:

"The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false,
so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

My friend attends a charismatic/evangelical suburban church here in the Portland area. Last Sunday, his pastor pulled a stunt that left me speechless and him so angry he is questioning the validity of his church.

The pastor preached a sermon on the Samaritan woman. His goal was to explain what Jesus meant by "the Father is looking for worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth." In short, his main point was that truth=sincerity. All you need to do as a Christian is love God and be assured of His presence in the "moving of the spirit" and have heart-felt sincerity.

If that isn't disturbing enough for you, what the pastor did next will be.

Right in the middle of the concluding "praise and worship" segment, a woman ran up to the podium and gave the pastor a piece of paper. After reading it silently, he stopped the worship band and asked if there was a woman named Cinda in the congregation. She raised her hand. He then said to her, "I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your sister has just been in a fatal car accident and your family would like you to go home as fast as you can."

The response was immediate. People stood up to console her. Those around her began laying hands on her and praying. People began to fall down and weep and pray in the isle.

After a couple of minutes, the pastor stood up and asked for silence. He then announced that the whole thing had been set-up. Her sister wasn't dead! He concluded the service, saying, "I did this to prove to you that your worship and prayer was "in spirit and in truth" because you felt the spirit move and you were fully sincere EVEN THOUGH IT WAS BASED ON A LIE."


Coincidently, this very friend asked me a few weeks ago why our priest wasn't able to be "led by the spirit" to change the liturgy whenever he wanted.

Now he understands why all too well.

:: Karl :: 11:59:00 AM [Link] ::

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