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Saturday, February 11, 2012

What makes a sermon Christian?

In a previous post, I responded to a commenter who asked me what makes a blog Christian. She also asked me what makes a sermon Christian. I had never really considered either question, and I am grateful for them. In this post, I'll attempt to answer the second question.

First, what is a sermon? The Free Dictionary gives two definitions:
1. A religious discourse delivered as part of a church service.
2. An often lengthy and tedious speech of reproof or exhortation.

A commenter on the previous post said that we probably shouldn't call things Christian, because people can be Christian, but inanimate objects and human creations cannot be. Well, not everyone agrees with that distinction, although I see the point. The dictionary disagrees.

Here are the definitions of Christian, from the Free Dictionary:
1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
3. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
4. Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
5. Showing a loving concern for others; humane.
1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

By the second definition, a blog, or a sermon, could be Christian. And, if it didn't relate to or derive from the teachings of Christ, it wouldn't be. It would be a Moslem sermon, or a humanist sermon, or a materialist sermon, or a political sermon. I really don't think I can give a better answer than that. A Christian sermon is a discourse, relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.

Thanks for reading. Thanks again to Weekend Fisher for asking the questions.


Weekend Fisher said...

Again, good thoughts. Thank you.

I truly appreciate the time you took to respond. I was thinking you might drop a comment; I'm glad to see two full-fledged posts. It's helping me think through some things.

I asked because I wanted a perspective-check on my thoughts -- a growing unease that many blogs written by Christians, even on religion-related matters, are not necessarily Christian blogs ... and that for sermons, the fact that it is delivered by an ordained minister from the pulpit in a Christian church doesn't automatically guarantee that it is Christian. Normally it is, you'd hope; but it's not guaranteed.

I think the take-home points I've gotten from your two posts, for my perspective-check, are these: "Are we glorifying God?", "How are we treating our neighbors?", and "Where is Jesus in this picture?"

Thank you very much for the time you've taken to respond.

Anne / WF

Keetha Broyles said...

I'm guilty of giving sermons as defined in #2 of your first set of definitions.

They never did any good.

Martin LaBar said...

I've tried that a few times myself, Keetha, and no, they didn't do any good.


Martin LaBar said...

No, it's not guaranteed, Weekend Fisher. I am grateful that almost all of the many, many sermons I have heard in churches have been Christ-related. Everyone, unfortunately, hasn't had that privilege.

Thanks again for asking!