Monday, January 15, 2024

Guilt Gospel (7) Preaching Guilt

The evangelical gospel that begins with guilt, continues with guilt. Over the holidays, I have listened to some sermons by one of our nation’s best preachers. The theme of his messages is interesting.

  • We need to pray more, if we want to see revival.
  • We need to read the Bible more.
  • We need to worship better. If we do, revival will come.
These words are probably true and no doubt the preacher intended to encourage his listeners to do more of these things.

However, the problem with these messages is that they put a guilt trip on the people listening. The preacher’s message implies that they are not praying enough, not worshipping as seriously as they could, and not reading the bible sufficiently. They are guilty of missing the preacher’s standards. The listeners are probably some of the best Christians in his church. They are probably working hard for their families, occupations and their communities. Most are really committed to following Jesus, but the preacher’s message is that these busy people should be doing more. Although the cross has dealt with their guilt, they are still guilty of not doing enough.

As I reflected on all the sermons that I have heard over years of following Jesus, I realised that many of them have the same effect. The preachers probably intended to encourage their listeners to serve Jesus better, but the ultimate effect is to leave their listeners feeling guilty. Guilt is not a good motivator. It might make people strive harder, but that is not how we walk in the Spirit and grow in faith.

The western evangelical gospel begins with guilt, and it continues with guilt as those who accept this gospel attempt to walk in faith.

This full series can be read on Substack.

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