Have you ever come out of church and then had an argument with someone else over what the sermon was about? The preacher said X, you interpreted it as Y, and your friend thought he was talking about Z.
If you went to the preacher, he might have said, "Everyone gets something different out of a sermon," and if pressed on which was the appropriate interpretation he may have said, "It doesn't matter what I meant, it's more important what you got out of it personally, and that a conversation was started."
There are a number of troubling things about this:
- This is not biblical preaching where the teacher should be accountable for what he says - in the vague view it is up to the interpreter to get the message out of it that they supposedly need.
- To get something out of a sermon that the preacher didn't intend, that you had to work out for yourself, means that you did all the work. The preacher is unnecessary. All that is required is a focal point to start your own thinking and reflection.
- What do you do if you are not particularly gifted with teaching? How do you get anything out of the sermon that will grow you?
- This raises the value of personal interaction and engagement with issues over the value of the issues and content. Truth is relegated to the background, if it is even included.
When you think about it, ministers already have a captive audience so why not just tell some simple truths from the scriptures that will help them live better. Isn't that what preaching is? But there is pressure to perform, pressure to make listeners happy, pressure to be relevant, pressure to fill the tithing bucket, pressure to get more people in the door next week.
If you want examples of this vague and dangerous "Christianity" (in quotation marks because it is doubtful that they are teaching Christianity, even if their intentions are good). Try reading something written by Rob Bell or take a look at The Shack