Cotton Candy Sermons?

This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Subtle Errors

Is your preaching substantive? Does your preaching foster transformation? In an old post on the Preaching Today Blog that is no longer available. The TheoCentric Preaching Blog quotes an old Preaching Today weblog where Haddon Robinson wrote:

They end up being nothing more than moralisms: We should, we must, we ought. Or, here are three ways in which we can be better off financially. A sermon I heard a while ago on how to deal with procrastination had as its first point to get a Day Timer. You knew you were in trouble when you heard that. I have no doubt that when people left that church, if they were procrastinators, they thought it was a helpful sermon. But it was simply something that a motivational speaker could have done.

Get a Day Timer? How to deal with procrastination? Many take this “relevant” preaching to an extreme that removes its trasncended value. I was listening to a black preacher who preached a sermon “how to be a success at work.” Yes. Maybe it is this kind of preaching that makes people think that the American Middle Class lifestyle is the essence of the Gospel. Here you are given tools for living, but no confrontation of the divine into this world that will transform it and us.

Robinson continues:

If people are raised on cotton candy, they are not going to grow as Christians. When Paul writes to his young associate Timothy, he says that “all Scripture is inspired by God,” and that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for teaching, for putting the fundamental truths in front of people, and for “reproof, for correction, for instruction in right living.” We have ignored that first affirmation that the Bible is given to teach doctrine. It’s not the only thing it does, but doctrine is first, and out of that there is reproof and then there is correction and then instruction in right living.

Dear preachers, don’t fall into the trap of getting rid of doctrine. Yes everything should be relevant to our daily lives, but at the same time it should be relevant to the coming kingdom of God. In our zeal to reach the “felt-needs” of the “unchurched” so that we can build mega-churches many preachers have missed these major functions of Bible preaching. To put it bluntly, Cotton Candy will only rot your teeth. Robinson is on to something.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Vanderbilt Trained Minister (MDiv), Univ. of Alabama Trained Software Developer (MS), Author, Blogger (, Husband, Son, Brother, Father.

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