Comment to 'The Problem of the Gifted Speaker by Stephen Perks'
  • This is a very good read, and should take roughly an hour of your time. I recommend it to the Body of Christ as a way for you to consider how the "cult of personality" may distort your view of the redemptive power of Christ.

    When we remodeled our home several years ago, we made sure that all of the seating spaces were designed such that the center of each room was the center of focus so that each person in the room was equal to all others. Our kitchen table is large and round. We eliminated the TV set from the family room. When you enter any room as a guest in our home, there is no obvious place of honor. Every seat is a seat of honor.

    I imagine this to be how the church should be. The "gifted speaker" only exists because they are the focus of all of our attention when we are seated in the church pews. The pulpit draws our attention to them. Our bulletins tell us to be quiet and respectful in the church sanctuary. Reverence is only achieved when we all follow the prescribed dictates for orderly worship. The parishioners never initiate, but only ever respond to their leaders at the appropriate moments. It is the perfect setup for the "gifted speaker" as they have complete control over the crowd, and no one ever questions their authority.

    Congregants have been led to believe over the centuries that true worship comes by following the formula that the church has set up. We are seldom, if ever, confronted with the reality of our sinful nature and our unholiness before God. When we are, it is, as Mr. Perks mentions, in times of emotion manipulation (i.e. blackmail) as in Jonathan Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" sermon.

    I love reading about Paul in Athens (Acts 17:16-34). In this passage we see Paul observing the workings of Athens and engaging those around him in dialogue. It is the exact opposite of everything that we are told today that we need to do to make the church a success. Interestingly enough, when verse 22 tells us that Paul was "standing in the midst of the Areopagus", the Greek word for "midst" (μέσῳ) is the same one used in Luke 2:46 to describe the boy Jesus in the temple as He remained behind...

    41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. (emphasis mine)

    The picture of both Jesus and Paul is that of interactive dialogue. Maybe if we started asking the "gifted speaker" some difficult questions from the pews, we would soon see that there is no substance to their content.