Wednesday, April 27, 2005

An example -- I've done 6 and have 6 to go.

Title: Sermon preached on XXXXXXXX entitled “God Wants you to be Healed”, in XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX by XXXXXXX, using the texts Luke 6:17-19, Acts 10:38. This sermon watched on April 20, 2005 on the website XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.

Preacher--denomination, age, ethnicity, gender, ordination status: XXXXXXX is a non-denominational preacher, a African-American male who is approximately 45 years old. He is trained in Educational Therapy and has an honorary doctorate from Oral Roberts University, awarded in 1998.

Central point or purpose of the sermon: “God loves you too much for Him to let you walk away from here in the same mess you walked in.” “Tonight those unclean spirits will leave you.” “God will heal you because he loves you.” Certain sicknesses and disease are caused by unclean spirits, such as depression and being tormented in your mind, as well as some blood diseases and infirmities of the physical body. God anointed Jesus with burden removing and yoke destroying power. Anointing is a smearing on or foreshadowing of power. God will anoint you. Sickness is a curse that you should not have to put up with. Healing is good and sickness is bad. Jesus is still here and is still doing good, healing all who are oppressed and harassed by the devil. The reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit is healing. John 17 says that God loves you as He loves Jesus. Therefore, God will heal you. Your healing will take your faith. If you want a genuine healing you have to have enough faith. The sermon, while grounded in scripture and expositional in form, did not have much structure. There was aphorisms, call and response, and high emotion. There was a commercial for a tape set called “The Promise of Healing” in the middle and at the end of the sermon. This is a prime example of prosperity theology and works righteousness, which I find distasteful and fallacious. The good news that was being proclaimed was “God loves you and wants you to be healed” but I didn’t see it being worked out in the theology nor did I see a challenge for transformation.

Treatment of biblical text: XXXXXXXX used several different translations interpreting the text phrase by phrase, occasionally word by word. There was little context for the scriptures read (i.e. the two verses from Luke were not placed in context, placing it right after the naming of the 12 disciples and right before the beatitudes in Luke in the Sermon on the Plain.) There was little to no true exegetical work and he used other translations to gain more understanding of a particular phrase or word and occasionally looked at the Greek and Hebrew. In the end analysis, it was eisegetical rather than exegetical.

One (1) illustration/image in the sermon. Give your estimation of the effectiveness in supporting the text. There were few true illustrations or even metaphors or analogies. He contrasted the supernatural with the spectacular. He did use colorful language such as “there are no angels looking for Tylenol in heaven” and “Jesus is a doctor who has never lost a case.” “Hallelujah! You hear the word and you feel invincible.” He used the analogy of cleaning the body to the cleansing of the soul. All in all, his illustrations were not particularly effective.

Gender/age/culture/class/race/God talk inclusivity in language/illustrations: XXXXXX used almost exclusively masculine language when speaking about God. His language for people was neutral in regards to gender, age, culture, race and class which is appropriate considering the diverse makeup of the congregation.

Attire—robe, suit, jewelry, etc. [appearance]: XXXXXXXXX wore a very nice three-piece grey suit and a light purple tie. He had a handkerchief in his suit pocket. The pulpit was traditional in size and shape, however it was a marbleized purple in color with a large gold Bible embossed on the front. The choir was attired in purple robes and the aisle was carpeted in purple. The congregation is very large, multi-cultural, and multi-racial.

Presence--bodily engagement-use of hands, carriage, posture, mobility, distinctive mannerisms and idiosyncrasies: XXXXXXXXX moved around quite a bit. The chancel area appears to be much like a stage and it appeared that he tried to engage with the listeners by moving from behind the pulpit. He gestures strongly with his hands. He repeatedly moved back to the pulpit to read from the Bible. He tends to stand with one hand on his hip, leaning on the pulpit. He repeated phrases like “Hallelujah,” “Amen,” “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Preaching Voice--diction, clarity, volume, projection: XXXXXXXXX’s voice is a deep and resonant voice, well trained for his purposes. He uses it effectively to evoke emotional response. The volume was adequate for the purpose and overall suitable for a preacher. His voice production was excellent, with rooted deep breathing; his vocal placement was helpful for communication. He could improve his tall, round sounds by opening his mouth a little more. His diction is average and could be improved, especially his final consonants. His facial expressions were appropriate for the message. His phrasing and pauses suited the organization of his thought. His voice was pitched very naturally and he varied his pitch, rate, volume and inflection to reflect the content of the verse he was examining. In fact, he was able to use his voice very hypnotically, bringing about consent and agreement even when what he was saying created cognitive dissonance.

What would you modify or omit? I would omit the majority of the sermon. In fact, I don’t know if there is anything that I would use of this sermon. There were no interesting illustrations, no calls to action, no good metaphors, no interesting insights into difficult text. The best use of this sermon would be as a bad example.

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