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Monday, June 10, 2013

180: FEEDING SHEEP?.. OR AMUSING GOATS?

An essay was written in the 1800's by a man named Charles Haddon Spurgeon from England. While it is referring to the Church of England,  I think is very interesting and has parallels to our own Church today. The title of the article: Is the Church feeding sheep or amusing goats?  Feeding and amusing are polar opposites, as well as sheep and goats. Feeding sustains life, while amusing gradually leads to damnation.  Feeding would include preaching repentance, amusing might include telling feel good stories or maybe even wiggling your ears. To amuse means to divert the attention, beguile, delude. The primary meaning of amuse is to deceive or cheat.  Here is the article:

IS THE CHURCH FEEDING SHEEP?.. OR AMUSING GOATS?

"An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough So it would have been if He had added, "and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel." No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.

Then again, "He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry" (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt" (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy---something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, "Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow." Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.

In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, "Come out, keep out, keep clean out!" Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.

After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, "Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are." If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God's link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today's ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire."

7 comments:

  1. Oh, it could be so, so much worse than ear wiggling:
    http://www.alittleleaven.com/2011/10/circus-churchliterally.html

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    1. I don't even think Spurgeon could have anticipated this^^

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    2. Well It is called Circus Church after all. One could say.. at least we aren't as bad as that. When we compare ourselves to Vegas we look pretty good.. but we should be comparing ourselves to Zion.

      I don't think Spurgeon could have anticipated inviting performers from Dancing with the Stars, or singers from Broadways Shows... as well as Network Television Broadcasters to perform at our annual Christmas concerts either. :)

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  2. Reading about the Church of England (especially in the 1700s and 1800s when it was strong and a powerful influence on the British empire) has always helped me keep being LDS in perspective.

    In other words, all movements (even religious) tend to follow the same trends--

    nothing works very well in Babylon, or only those things that are disappointing to the Lord DO work well in Babylon; things of Zion, things of eternity don't often get very far in Babylon--

    I have had to dismiss much just to keep going--but I haven't seen any good come to those I have know who have left--

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  3. I truly feel sorry for you.

    Goethe said:

    As man is wont
    So is his God
    And thus is God
    oft Strangely odd.

    You have now circled back and met Boyd Packer on your return trip.

    You both lock God in church misconstruing him as an irritated and annoyed old man who hates anything that breaks his pious sober silence.

    By all means pursue that God if that is your bent (and God will surely accommodate you in your search).

    As for me, I'll take food and song (Christ did come eating and drinking and they called him a wine bibber and gluttonous).

    Sit silently reverent in your straight back wooden bench in church. I'll ski or hike or ride my bike and wake up lost in God's creations (after all The Son of Man hath not where to lay his head).

    Enjoy your sober eternity. I prefer music and film and friends and laughter and joy and the thrill of discovery.

    As Joseph said; "If we go to hell, we'll turn the devil out the door and make a heaven out of it.'

    You and your ilk are adept at making hell out of heaven.

    All the best

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    1. Interesting comment.

      No need to feel sorry for me.. For anyone who knows me.. I too love to ski, hike, ride, run, music, film, friends, laughter, and joy and the thrill of discovery.

      The point of post was to point out that all too often to attract new members we feel we need to become popular with the world and use tactics such as "amusement".

      All the best to you as well.

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  4. @Anon June 11, 2013 at 8:09 AM, I think you missed the point.

    The post never said don't have fun, don't have any joy, stop all recreation, don't discover anything, don't eat, don't drink, and don't laugh, and forget the ski slopes.

    It just suggested the church not substitute empty amusement in place of the truths of the Gospel. Can you see the difference? Its a simple concept. Amusement is not the correct tool to attract converts, it won't keep them nor convert them, nor save them.

    Should we be a happy people, full of joy, fun, laughter, singing? Hell yes. More so than any other. But we are not going to be full of the right kind of joy or happiness if we have been deceived into consuming endless entertainment instead of truths that save. The article wants us to avoid being a damned people who entertain themselves all the way to hell.

    Blog author: This is one of my favorite things you've posted.

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