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Why Not a ‘Foul-Mouthed’ Pastor?

Should pastors swear from the pulpit to be more "real" and "relevant" to a lost world?

by
Walter Hudson

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November 14, 2013 - 8:30 am
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swearing

The closest a Christian comes to hearing the literal voice of God is when their familiarity with scripture evokes verses in answer to life’s queries. For instance, when confronted with the Washington Post’s profile of “tatted up, foul-mouthed” Lutheran minister Nadia Bolz-Weber, something like 2 Timothy 4:3-4 comes to mind:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

The Post provides little from Bolz-Weber which passes for theology. Most of her quotes wash past vague and incoherent. The Blaze provides a thumbnail sketch:

While there is a growing group of believers interested in Bolz-Weber’s message, not everyone will be so enamored. For one, her use of what The Washington Post called a “frequently profane dialect” will certainly turn off more traditional church attendees. Still, she’s piquing the interest of others who are more theologically progressive in nature.

From nothing more than this habit, “frequently profane dialect” from the pulpit, we can assume with confidence that Bolz-Weber knows not of whom she speaks.

Why shouldn’t a pastor use foul language? Is criticism of folks like Mark Driscoll, a professing evangelical known as “the cussing pastor,” informed by a kind of Puritan asceticism? Does swearing make a Christian “real” or “relevant”?

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." -James 3:1

Other than intentionally disruptive and riotous behavior, do we throw people out of church because they wear the wrong clothes, say the wrong things, act the wrong way? No. If your church does, then shame on you. However the pastor is to be an example, not perfect, but striving to be. And the message you are trying to convey is...?

The Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed in 1945 because he refused to go along with Hitler's madness, refers to Minister Bolz-Weber’s type of Gospel message as "cheap grace":

"Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

The Christian message has spread throughout the world and is growing fastest in the Middle East and Asia. Swearing isn't necessary to make Christianity relevant—love is.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Many things we do are "real", but have no place in church. I urinate, eat pizza and check my email. All these acts are as real as it gets, but none of them need to be done in public, much less in church.

We are asked to offer up our first fruits to God. How does profane or obscene language help that? I think this is just another case of our society's belief that coarse=authentic. More and more, I guess society is right, more's the pity.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:29

I'm guessing this includes swearing and cussing. Hard to grasp how those words impart grace to anyone....
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (29)
All Comments   (29)
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Have always suspected Catholism's dichotomous view of Christ, Church, teaching's, Bible, liturgy schooling, higher education and overall organization.
This can only explain pervasive sexploitation rampant in all dioceses across these USA.
Without a clear theological, rigorous study and view of what is "definitely right and clearly wrong" how else is one to expect fallible men (and women) to act, perform and hold sacred, the "word of God?" Daily temptations surround every human being, every minute of every day. Without a clear set of "what is definitely right and clearly wrong" temptation wins, every time. Pleasure of the flesh becomes "excused" away as the lenient side of "the word of God." Pope Benedict has embraced this "gray area" of Christendom by frontally embracing LGBT'ers IN TOTAL DISREGARD FOR PAUL's warnings in "ROMANS!" Pleasure of the flesh has won once again...even with Pope Benedict. Catholic church in the world is a 'HAS BEEN!" Or Also ran. Pray. Amen. May God Pray for our souls and shed light upon these sinners.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
This isn't an issue to be "wrestled with" or "considered". There are no "nuances" here.

There is a command to be obeyed. The matter is settled. There is now only to choose the path of obedience (walked imperfectly) or disobedience.

We are nowhere commanded to be "relevant".

If we are obedient, we WILL be relevant.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Au contraire. Men are saved by obeying our Lord, Jesus Christ; not by simple mental assnt to some theological proposition, Heb.5.9; Mt.7.21; 2Ths.1.7-10 and many others. Females may not be pastors or preach, I Tim.2.12 as they may not have authority over men; nor may they teach men. Further,since they cannot be married men with believing children, they are precluded from church leadership, Tiit.1.5-6; ITim.3.1-5. Our Lord said that we shall be judged in part for the words we used, Mt.12.37
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ephesians 2:8 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,"

I don't want to face the Lord Jesus claiming that I had something to do with my salvation. That's not a conversation that's going to end well.

The judgment you reference has to do with rewards in heaven, not salvation. Legalism won't save you. But obedience pleases God and will be rewarded beyond salvation.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
We know we love Him if we keep His commandments. And a further proof for us, if His commandments are not burdensom. How hard is it to understand that not wishing to be like the Lover of our souls is evidence we are not of His floock? The people following this falce teacher will not miss her when in a year or two she is forgotten, her fate forever sealed, but will simply move on to the next itteration of profane "beliefe".
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I swear and shouldn't. My son hears it. When I hear him say "Gosh" where I would say something worse, I pray to God that I can control my swearing before I corrupt him.

Swearing is definitely bad behavior. It is anti-social because it makes some people uncomfortable. Where a person swears, a social boundary has been crossed. The person swearing seems unruly and his willingness to cross the boundary suggests that he may not respect other social boundaries - which are not arbitrary rules designed to make life difficult, but which are essential to the best functioning of society. I don't think that willingly making people uncomfortable for gratuitous reasons is Christian behavior.

As I said, I also swear, so I am in no way judging the foul mouthed pastor, but I do acknowledge that it is wrong to do so and it is a bad habit that should be changed.

That the pastor feels she would be a hypocrite for not swearing in the pulpit because she swears when not in the pulpit is ridiculous. Instead of feeling hypocritical for not swearing in the pulpit, she should feel bad for swearing when not in the pulpit.

Would you want to be on an airliner with a pilot who says "I will not abstain from drinking before and while I fly because I do not abstain from drinking when I am off duty"? Why is it OK for a sky pilot to engage in such trite thinking? What if she gets drunk when her relatives visit? Should she be drunk in the pulpit if her relative shows up in the congregation?

She hasn't thought it through. She should confess from the pulpit that she swears too much and ask for her congregations help in breaking the bad habit. Not swearing in the pulpit would make a fine start.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." -James 3:1

Other than intentionally disruptive and riotous behavior, do we throw people out of church because they wear the wrong clothes, say the wrong things, act the wrong way? No. If your church does, then shame on you. However the pastor is to be an example, not perfect, but striving to be. And the message you are trying to convey is...?

The Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed in 1945 because he refused to go along with Hitler's madness, refers to Minister Bolz-Weber’s type of Gospel message as "cheap grace":

"Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

The Christian message has spread throughout the world and is growing fastest in the Middle East and Asia. Swearing isn't necessary to make Christianity relevant—love is.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think there's a basic misunderstanding at work here. Nadia is a Lutheran pastor. She distinguishes Law from Gospel, "rightly divide the word of scripture" says the Apostle Paul. She has recognized a basic truth about our modern age which is that many people have become alienated from the church based on the Law. They think that the gospel is about being clean, tidy, prissy, and judgmental. It is not, of course. The gospel is about Jesus Christ coming to sinners.

Clean living, unmarked skin, the avoidance of cussing and so all belong to the Law. There is no life in keeping these rules. There are many who do not know this. They have internalized the message that Jesus is about keeping the rules. Nadia has been called by God to go to those people and to communicate, not just say but communicate the message that Jesus came for sinners to give something. Nadia is trying to break down the pious wall that separates many from hearing the good news.

Do I personally like tattoos or cussing? No, I don't. But worse than cussing by far is to dress the gospel up as mere piety so that those who need it most cannot see or hear it. Paul himself said, "I have become all things to all men that by all means I might save some." Nadia is reaching people who have not been reached by others. God bless her in her ministry that Christ might be made known to all.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
" Nadia has been called by God to go to those people and to communicate"

No, she has not. How can I know that? God told me so. He also told HER so, and you, too. It's written plainly in His Word. She is in willful violation of that plainly written word.

Women are not to teach. Period. No, that wasn't something cultural, nor was it the mere opinion of a woman-hatting Apostle. It is a fundamental truth.

The roles of men and women (generically) and husband and wife (particularly) are symbols of the relationship between God and Man, Christ and the Church.

Changing those roles is a direct attack on the nature of God.

For a woman to assume the role of pastor is nothing less than blasphemy.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The first and most essential point of the Gospel is that God is holy. "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come." Not swearing, especially from the pulpit, is not dressing that up. You can't dress that up. The Gospel, the holiness of our Lord, is worthy of glory and praise - not association with filth. It's not our efforts to be "real" or "relevant" that breaks down walls to people's hearts. It's the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit. When we compromise that by thinking we can jive our faith into people's hearts by being cool, we compromise our faith in the sufficiency of scripture and the sovereignty of God.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
But from a Lutheran theological perspective you have simply called the Law "Gospel." The Gospel that Luther elucidated did not refer to God's holiness. It referred to God's forgiveness which was freely given for the sake of Christ.

If God's holiness is the gospel, then we are lost. As Isaiah says, "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." But Isaiah is saved FROM God's holiness by his election, his sovereign decision to forgive, "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for."

This is the gospel that I cling to, that God came to me while I was yet a sinner. Should I continue in sin so that grace might abound? Of course not Nor should she or any of her congregants.

36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
All men are under the Law of Christ, ICor.9.21; Gal.6.2. Jesus saves those who OBEY Him, Heb.5.9.You have the whole thing upside down and backwards. God does not issue licenses to sin. Honest. Your anti-nomian diatribe appeals to unrepentant sinners; not to decent folk.Sin is the violation of God's law. No law, no sin. Each is then free to rob, rape, toeture, kill, burn, whatever. Is that what the Gospel teaches? Shame on you!
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Many things we do are "real", but have no place in church. I urinate, eat pizza and check my email. All these acts are as real as it gets, but none of them need to be done in public, much less in church.

We are asked to offer up our first fruits to God. How does profane or obscene language help that? I think this is just another case of our society's belief that coarse=authentic. More and more, I guess society is right, more's the pity.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Bolz-Weber"

I read about her at length somewhere about a week ago. Other pictures of her aren't as "in your face" as the one you show. Her personal story of downfall and redemption is compelling and she has 2 kids and a longtime husband.

She has personal qualities that attract people to her style & approach to preaching and it doesn't seem to be just about the language she uses.

(I don't ever wish to be a slave, to an idea of righteousness or anything else.)
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"She has personal qualities that attract people to her style & approach to preaching and it doesn't seem to be just about the language she uses.

The history of the church is replete with examples of what happens when people are attracted to a charismatic person.

It does not end well.

(I don't ever wish to be a slave, to an idea of righteousness or anything else.)

The Apostle Paul thought differently:

" Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness," Titus 1:1
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fair enough. Keep searching scripture to test that conviction.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Jesus rescued the woman caught in adultery who as about to be stoned by the religious police of the time; he did not say to her go and keep it up Babe, he told her to go and sin no more.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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