Friday, April 6, 2012

A Therapeutic Gospel-S. Feister

The Pastor whose message I am going to analyze starts off with talking about expecting far and above favor for the coming year and coming decade. He sets a background to his sermon by reminding everyone of the darkness of the last decade with its natural disasters, 9/11, tanking economy, investment fraud, wars, etc. This is a very encouraging sermon and dwells on the Bible’s message that the darker the world gets the brighter it will be for God’s people. His encouragement increases with his idea that in this new decade things will be better for his audience. He states that God has “explosive blessings that can catapult you to a new level”. Next he reaffirms his audience to the coming good times by saying “Things are going to get easier; things are going to start falling into place.” He also puts a personal twist on his prophecies of goodness to come for his audience. He tells them that their careers will take off like a rocket, that they will meet people who will help them further their dreams, that they will finally get out of debt, and they will get well even though the doctors say they will not. At this point he is building up to his point that God is going to give a decade of favor to us. He gives the illustration that if we stay in faith, those who are our stumbling blocks will become our stepping stones to take us to a higher level. Then he goes into some encouraging advice about not getting down but keeping a positive attitude toward the future. This will result in favor and goodness from God.  Another quote from this pastor that ties  his point together is when he says, “When you live a life that honors God,… then the Scripture says that God’s blessings will chase you down and overtake you,” “don’t give in to compromise and temptation, all that is doing is keeping you from God’s best.”  One of his quotes that I believe summarizes his sermon is, “God wants to exceed your expectations.”
I believe this pastor is preaching a form of the Therapeutic Gospel. His message is extremely encouraging which is not at all a bad thing. His comments about having a positive attitude in the new decade are valuable and wise. Yet this encouragement is not completely biblical. As I listened to his message it seemed as if the final goal was about our own happiness, success, and blessings. This message closely resembles the “Happy meal Gospel,” laid out by Trevin Wax, that God is our tool to reach happiness.  The sermon also seems to agree with the “Paid Programming Gospel” where the motivation to come to Jesus is a better life. Evidence of this is in his comments about getting a better career, better health, and better finances. While following Jesus will lead you to a better life, you will not automatically receive earthly and material blessings like he is preaching. Overall it seemed the entire presentation focused on us and our needs and wants more than God as our source of Joy. This sermon and it’s false approach to blessings will cause misunderstanding and great discouragement when people are not blessed like they think they are owed for their obedience. It is not through success in careers, health, or an easy life, that we find our Joy but in God and our realization of his love and grace. This is where I believe this pastor diverged from biblical truth.

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