In a fundamentalist church near you…
**Warning. Gratuitous King James Language Usage**
In a fundamentalist church near you…
The Slippery Slope argument is a popular one among fundamentalists. It goes something like this…
If a woman wears culottes that are only to the knee instead of to the ankle then she will inevitably begin wearing pants. This will in turn lead to wearing shorts which will lead to mixed bathing which will lead to dancing in night clubs and then on to drug addiction. This will drive her straight into prostitution which will lead to to armed robbery, prison time, terrorism, mass suicide, and and finally becoming a Southern Baptist.
So keep those culottes to your ankles, or else!!
For those fundamentalist sermon aficionados out there, here are a few sermon genres that grow better with age, like a fine old wine or a ripe old cheese.
The Stump Speech: Religion and Politics are a great combination. Stir some verses into your political diatribe and shake well. Extra points if you can get a politician from your party to actually do the speaking.
The Guided Missile: There’s a person in the church who needs this sermon — that’s why you wrote it! Make sure to make eye contact with them while you preach it, especially during the yelling parts. Getting other church folks to glare with you will get you bonus points every time.
The Impromptu Concert: You’ve got a great singing voice…use it! Stop cold in the middle of a point and break into glorious song. People are just dying to hear you sing, so serve it up often.
The Linguistics Lesson: Let people know that the hours you spent in that church basement getting your education were not wasted! Make up entire points of your sermon telling the difference in the original language between the kinds of love. Extra points if you can find that in the original manuscripts, “thou shalt not wear pants” is clearly stated!
The Scientific Discourse: Make sure that everyone knows what a great mind you have by quoting scientific facts. If you don’t have good scientific facts to back up what you’re saying then just guess at some. After all, science is all THEORY anyway!
The Obscure Reference: Find thing in a passage that nobody else has ever thought about. Preach a message about the clasps on Jonah’s shoes. Or the beard on Daniel’s billy goat. Go ahead. Don’t just preach about the folks holding the ropes on Paul’s basket, talk about people who wove the rope and the builders who made the wall so that Paul could be lowered over it. The dynamite is in the details.
The Testimony Time: Why should only one person have all the fun of talking? Letting people break into the middle of the sermon to share their experiences on the subject is sure to help people relate. Make sure to have the tissues handy.
The Campfire Story: Spend most of the service involved in telling a really horrifying story. If the story can involve dismemberment, decapitation, or being eaten alive, so much the better. Best if used during a youth rally or chapel service.
The Springboard: Pick a verse, any verse. Read it with feelings. Then talk about anything you want to. Extra points if the verse is from a minor prophet.
The Cheer Leading Session: Make sure people are following along by asking “Amen?” at the end of every sentence. Sprinkle in a few “And all God’s people said?” lines as well. Be sure to chastise the crowd if not enough response is forthcoming.
Three cheers for the Great Blondin for crossing Niagara falls on tightrope and providing one of the most repeated illustrations about faith (or was it grace?) to fundamentalists everywhere.
How history might have been changed if Jean Francois Gravelot had decided to become an accountant instead.
Is your church sluggish and listless? Having trouble packing folks into the pews? Need something to really fire up the congregation? A prophecy conference is just the thing to bring folks in to your church and set them ablaze! The end of the world is here again.
Yes, sir, nothing will stir the fires of people’s heart like hearing about the tribulations, the anti-Christ, and the Great Whore of Babylon. Folks will flock in to hear latest ways in which the book of Revelation applies to the headlines. After all, there’s big trouble in the Middle East right now…and that’s never happened before.
And just look at how technology is fulfilling the prophecies. Forget all that stuff about 666 being hidden in social security numbers, bar codes, and debit cards. Make sure that your church knows that the mark of the beast is those new computer chips they implant to track animals. This kind of instruction is time well spent. Spending a whole night expounding theories the mark of the Beast is just the kind of edification that the body Christ needs.
Revelation is just the ticket to get those pews packed. After all, you’ll notice that there was never a series of gripping fiction books or movies based on Romans or Galatians. It’s the end of the world as we know it…
Have you heard that there was a rare red heifer born in Israel; the kind needed to sacrifice for the rebuilt Temple? We must be nearing the end times!
Did you know that Proctor and Gamble support the church of Satan and put a Satanic symbol on their products? We must be in the end times!
Are you aware that for a gang initiation guys drive back roads with their headlights off and shoot the first person in an oncoming car to flash their lights? Things are waxing worse and worse. It must be the end times!
Urban legends are a staple of fundamentalist lore. This is especially true of those wild tales that end up being repeated as sermon illustrations. Quasi-scientific anecdotes have an especially long life in this genre. Have you ever heard any of these gems?
- There was once a scientist who finds the “universe’s lost time” in the Bible’s accounts of Joshua and Hezekiah and becomes a Christian.
- The position of the earth is so precise that a few miles closer to the sun and we would all burn, a few miles further away and we would all freeze.
- Scientists dropped microphones into a deep hole and heard screams from the center of the earth.
- The hottest kind of fire burns pitch black.
Who could resist such compelling tales when they come from the mouth of a respected pastor or evangelist? And how could he possibly resist using such stories when they so easily illustrate the point of his sermon? So the urban legend continues, passed down from generation to generation.
However, the claim that sugar is only one molecule away from cocaine is almost certainly the truth. Surely a pastor wouldn’t just make that up, would he? One would certainly hope not…