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Mangled Greek + Terrible Object Lesson = Sermon Fail!

April 20, 2011

I saw this video over at American Jesus “Preaching in a Kiddie Pool.” AJ comments, “Apparently the pastor was trying to make a point about wearing nice clothes not being what it means to give your best for Jesus. Fair enough, that’s a great point.”

I’m not sure if it’s a ‘great’ point or not, but whatever, because the ‘point’ has nothing to do with the text he is preaching on, or his basis for such a point!

Let’s take a closer look at the main thesis (3:10) for the opportunity to stand in a kiddie pool (4:40 mark) while wearing a suit and yell at people…

Verse 14 says, “Rather clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Do you know what the word clothe is? It’s βάπτω (bapto), it’s to baptize. It means to fully submerge.

Really? Where to start?

First, Romans 13:14, “ἀλλὰ ἐνδύσασθε τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν” “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

For those that don’t know Greek, the word used here is not bapto but ἐνδύω (enduo) meaning to enter, put on. So right off the bat something is very wrong here.

Second, there is some irony to him using the word bapto for his sermon illustration: when bapto is used in the NT it is usually in the context of ‘dipping’ something:

He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip (bapto) the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped (bapto) it in the dish.” So when he had dipped (bapto) the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.

So not only does he have the wrong word, he has the wrong meaning for that word! He was probably ‘thinking’ of a different word, and a derivative of bapto, βαπτίζω baptizo, which does mean immerse or submerge for a religious purpose. At this point: two strikes.

Third, and even worse, is that the actual word in the text ἐνδύσασθε (ἐνδύω [enduo]) is metaphorically used of the soul as clothed with the body (2 Cor 5:3), or of one who puts on or assumes a new character (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10). When you endusasthe  “put on Christ”  it means to be filled, endued with Christ’s spirit, be like Him (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27).

Really, from that context, that’s a pretty easy sermon to write. There is more than enough verses in the NT to work off of, and it would actually have something to do with the Greek of the text. In fact, the idea is ubiquitous enough in the NT you could do a series. Three strikes: he’s out.

Furthermore, not only is the ‘exegeting’ bad, but the object lesson is terrible as well. At this point I’m wondering just how many strikes can one sermon have?

After conceding that the pastor may have been trying to make a valid point the writer at American Jesus continues.

However, it all goes downhill from there. First he starts randomly spraying himself with water. No idea what that’s about.

Then he decides to jump into a kiddie pool mid sermon. It seems he thought he would take the “submerge yourself in Christ” thing literally.

What makes this so awkward is his attempt to be serious in the pool. We’re all about using humor in the church, but you can’t do something funny, then go uber-serious while you’re still doing it and start screaming at people. Oh yeah, and then pray while you’re still standing in the pool.

I never thought I would use this phrase, but I think this one definitely qualifies as an “epic fail.”

There is a lesson to be learned here for young exegetes. Avoid object lessons and discuss what is actually in the text so that you do not end up standing in a kiddie pool yelling at your audience about things that have little to do with the verses you are supposedly ‘preaching’ on!

Definite, “Epic Sermon Fail!!”

8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2011 3:43 pm

    At least he didn’t invite everyone who really wanted to submerge themselves in Christ to come and jump in the pool with him.

    • April 20, 2011 4:21 pm

      Good point. I need to work on spotting those silver linings! 😉

  2. Doug permalink
    April 20, 2011 6:21 pm

    Very good commentary.

  3. April 20, 2011 10:18 pm

    I feel very “mooo”tivated after listening to this!

  4. April 21, 2011 8:24 pm

    As a pastor, this is spot on the mark and will take this seriously to the vest. Poor usage of the Greek sleighs the real intent of this sermon and his failure to apply it will have little effectual work in those who hear it. I have actually said to my congregation that “…parts of my sermon will be absolutely perfect today” (pause…the church members stare in disbelief, then I say)…”it will be the part where I am reading out of the Bible! 🙂

  5. April 25, 2011 8:21 pm

    at one stage, I thought he was peeing his pants. How embarrassing that it was published on Youtube, of all places.


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