Here is a follow-up to my post on Educating Evangelicals and BiblioBlogs from Tony Siew on Revelation is Real. We are really on the same page, but I like what he has to say toward the end of his post:
“When pastors lack the requisite training and possess insufficient acquaintance with the biblical text, how much can we expect of the congregation? The trickle down effect is obvious. Like priest like people. If pastors are biblically illiterate, is there much hope for the congregation? As Jeremiah lamented, “The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power; And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer 5:31).”
Since Tony made a nice parallel drawn from the Hebrew Bible here, let me run with it a bit. The problem in the Jerusalem of Jeremiah’s day was biblical illiteracy as well, but they seem to have been performing the rituals fine. The burden of Jeremiah is that the act of worship in the Temple was not acceptable if it was not accompanied by keeping the heart of the Law. Jeremiah 7 is a stinging condemnation of Judah’s religious practice in the entrance to the Temple itself. The reason the worship is not acceptable is that the King and priests are not doing the Law with a pure heart. The “trickle-down effect” worked to condemn Judah to exile.
The only way to know how to worship God correctly is to know what the Scripture says, the only way to know what Scripture says is to read it properly and let it change your heart and mind. I think that starts at the top with the pastor (mea culpa).
Imagine a modern day Jeremiah standing at the entrance to a megachurch (pick your favorite) and declaring that the worship “performed” in that church was not acceptable to the Lord because the people doing an hour of worship on Sunday were not doing what the Lord required the other 167 hours a week. Even if the pastor is a rock-star preacher (or life-coach) and the worship band has a few Gold records, the worship is still obnoxious to the Lord if it does not effect society in a positive way.
Like Jeremiah, I suspect security would suddenly appear and take him off in handcuffs.