Urban Legends and Preaching

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Hal Parker, Jul 9, 2002.

  1. Hal Parker

    Hal Parker
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    How many of these have you heard referred to in sermons, sunday school lessons, devotionals, etc. They are all fiction!

    All Fiction
    Call Governor Rick Perry's Office in Texas to Get Prayer Back in Schools
    The effort to get references to God taken off the "Touched By An Angel" TV Show
    American Missionary sentenced to death in Africa after traffic accident
    A movie is coming out showing Jesus and his disciples as homosexuals
    Atheist in a university classroom is upstaged by a piece of chalk
    Soviet Scientists drilled into hell
    Leonardo used the same man for Jesus and Judas in the last supper painting
    Executive of Procter And Gamble is a Satanist
    Al Gore calls Christians a "blight to the environment"
    "The Beast," a supercomputer in Belgium with every person on earth in it
    George W. Bush spent 30 minutes talking with a teen about God at a banquet
    Theologian Paul Tillich Upstaged by a simple preacher
    NASA computers found the "missing day" of the Bible story about Joshua
    Madalyn Murray O'Hair Trying to Get Religious Programming Off Radio and Television
    More kids going into Satanism because of Harry Potter books
    Al Gore getting confused on Bible Verse
    Christian airline pilots being paired with non-Christian ones in case of rapture
    U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno Identifies Christians as Cultists

    It makes us look foolish when we use things like this as illustrations or whatever.

    The two best online sources for urban legends that I use are:

    Urban Legends Reference Pages
    http://www.snopes2.com/

    Truth or Fiction
    http://www.truthorfiction.com/

    If you come across a story that just begs to be used as a sermon illustration it is probably an urban legend. It is a good idea to check your sermon illustrations out with a website like the two above before using it in a sermon, etc. I have gone up several times to a preacher and informed him that his sermon illustration was known to be false.
     
  2. Helen

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    Well HELLO STRANGER! Good to see you around again!

    Nice post, by the way... :D
     
  3. Baptist Believer

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    How did that go over??? [​IMG] Most of the time I do that they get very defensive or start condemning me!

    By the way, you forgot about the one where the preacher (I've heard 4 or 5 Southern Baptist preachers use this one - some even on radio and TV) is flying on an airplane and he is witnessing to the passenger next to him (how come preachers always do it on a plane?) and the passenger turns out to be a (witch/satanist) who is (going to/returning from) a meeting where they were praying that every (Southern Baptist/Bible-believing/Godly) pastor would have a moral failure.
     
  4. blackbird

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    Some preachers are bad about sharing false illustrations--but not NEAR as bad as the Laypeople who go around insisting that Madeline Murry O'Hare got saved or that Hanoi Jane Fonda got saved, or even Ozzie Ozborn got saved. About as believable as Elvis sightings on Mars!

    I do my best to stick to as many illustrations that have happened to me--so that I don't have to worry about some sort of "Hear-Say" illustrations.

    By the way, some preachers do witness on the airplane or in Taxi's--some people do get saved!
     
  5. Hal Parker

    Hal Parker
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    Baptist Believer asked how the preacher took being told his illustration was wrong. Actually, they usually take it in stride. It helps if the preacher already considers you a friend. And, a lot is to be said for the way in which I tell him.

    I've done workshops at the Bible college I used to teach at on Urban Legends. The students were just amazed at how many preacher stories they have heard are false.

    We have to do a better job. Truth matters.

    Helen, was wondering where I have been. Well, I've been around. I just haven't had anything I wanted to say is all.

    Just for the record. Everyone of the urban legends I mentioned in my first post came straight from the Truth or Fiction website. Both sights I mentioned have big sections devoted to religious urban legends. The Truth or Fiction website also has a section devoted to prayer requests. The Urban Legends Reference Pages has a section called "Glurge" that is a good source. A "Glurge" is an urban legend that is a type of morality tale.
     
  6. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Another Urban Legend:

    Rant and rave about the decline of our society linked to the "fact" that "....our children no longer can pray in school."

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  7. Hal Parker

    Hal Parker
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    The issue of prayer and Bible reading in our schools is a good illustration of this.

    Yes, those would be good things in our public schools. But, simply having a time of prayer and Bible reading will not fix our society. Everything wasn't all peaches and cream before the courts stopped Bible reading and prayer in our public schools. That was just the tip of the iceberg. The removal of Bible reading and prayer in our public schools was the result of a chain of events that had been going on for some time.

    To think we can fix our public schools by adding Bible reading and a short prayer time would is simplistic and naive.
     
  8. boris99

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    I've received TONS of emails over the years with those stories... some of them several times!

    Nowadays, I just place them in File 13 ;)
     
  9. Mike McK

    Mike McK
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    My favorite is that scientists drilling for oil accidentally discovered Hell in Iceland.

    Everybody in Philadelphia knows that the gateway to Hell is at Broad St. and Pattison Ave. ;)

    I also like the ones you see on BB's music boards so often.

    1) "There was a missionary who went to the darkest jungles of Africa. When he played the rock and roll records he brought with him, the natives were horrified and told him that the beat of the music was the same beat that they used to summon their demons."

    2a) The Eagles were members of Anton Levay's church of Satan and the album cover for "Hotel California" was shot at the church of Satan and featured fellow members.

    2b) The Eagles chose their name to reflect their strong beliefs in Indian spirituality.

    3) Alice Cooper is a Satanist who got his name from a 17th century Welsh witch whim he contacted through a Ouija Board.

    4) One anti-rock website said that Brian Wilson was Satanic because he often heard voices.

    (It's well known that Brian Wilson suffers from schizophrenia and several disassociative disorders thus, the voices.)

    Mike

    [ July 10, 2002, 02:47 PM: Message edited by: Smoke_Eater ]
     
  10. Revolt

    Revolt
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    LOL
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    Sensationalism has no place in the pulpit. We should preach Christ and Him crucified . . . not Madeline Murray Ohare or Ted Turner.

    I'm with you. Find HISTORY is a better source of illustration, but must be careful of the modern tendency to "rewrite" it with either a very secular slant or a sugary christian view that is not realistic.

    Thanks for the good info!
     
  12. TomVols

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    This brings up the whole general area of ethics in the pulpit and also the place of illustrations. It's a worthy discussion and one that a lot of preachers would do well to engage in and listen to. I fear that many of these legends get repeated because the poorly prepared preacher runs out of things to say then remembers one of them. It also to me smacks of a lack of trust in the God-breathed Word. Just preach the Word. Don't think the illustration will make the difference whether someone becomes more consecrated or whatever. God's Word is sufficient. If you can't validate and source an illustration, don't use it. Simple as that.
     
  13. Hardsheller

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    If Ted Turner says something that makes him a perfect illustration for the word idiot or stupidity who am I to complain? :D
     
  14. Rev. Joshua

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    Uh oh Tom, must be another Blue Moon - we agree again. Paul Duke once said in an Intro. Homiletics course that simply telling the text clearly is the best illustration. That's always stuck, and I don't bring in a lot of outside illustrations as a result. I certainly don't feel a sermon is incomplete without them.

    Joshua
     
  15. TomVols

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    I agree. (GASP)
    The best illustration is the text, and letting other texts illumine the preaching text. Now I qualify that because I do use some current events, stats, sparingly use personal experiences, etc., even video clips or soundbytes, but I don't think I've not preached unless I use some sort of magical illustration. I use an outside illustration if it's natural and is clear and doesn't draw attention to itself.

    One of the worst dimes you can spend is on an illustration book, btw. Had to get that off of my chest :D
     
  16. TomVols

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    True. But is there enough time in the day to cover all the material where Ted sounds that way? :D
     
  17. Don

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    Man, I remember the Y2K stuff, and a guest pastor that came in and started telling us about how the computers were going to fritz and the nuclear missiles were going to launch themselves.

    Got myself in trouble, because I started laughing out loud in the service. Couldn't help myself.
     
  18. ChristianCynic

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    It's not only unauthenticated stories ['urban legends,' if you will] being cited which greatly harm the competence of a church or a speaker, but in many occasions it is delving into subjects of which they have an elementary, at best, understanding. I don't remember what this certain pastor was trying to 'illustrate' with this, but he said if you take a newborn baby and launch him in a spaceship at the speed of light toward the nearest star (excluding the sun), the baby would be 75 years old when he arrived at the star.

    I remember another occasion when the speaker was a seminary professor who was on the committees which translated the NASB and the NIV. Referring to the popularity of an idea v. the truth of an idea, he brought up Columbus and the nonsense that only he at the time believed the earth was round. Those who argued with Columbus claimed a water route westward for trade with Asia was impractical; Columbus said it was practical. His opponents were right. As to the roundness of the earth, people since ancient times who had the time and the concern to give it serious thought knew that had to be so.
     
  19. Baptist Believer

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    Could it have been "holy laughter?" I've never believed in it before, but it sounds like the most Godly response.

    The worst (probably most destructive) one was delivered by a well-known preacher (formerly a vocational evangelist in Southern Baptist circles) who was preaching a revival at a local Fort Worth church. I went on youth night because the sermon was on "The Devil, Demons, and Rock and Roll".

    The preacher went through a poorly reasoned and musically inaccurate spiel about how rock and roll music was inherently evil because it had a noticable beat. (Of course he was tapping his foot to "I'll Fly Away" during the song service.) He moved to the invitation time with this final story:

    "There was a boy who decided to listen to rock music. The music told him about marijuana. He decided to smoke some marijuana with his friends at the beach. As they got high, one of the boys noticed a woman jogging toward them on the beach. He said to his friends, "Let's go rape her." Of course, our hero had no problem joining in since he was already morally corrupted from listening to rock music and smoking a joint. They ran up to the woman and pulled her top over her head [Lots of disturbingly graphic images followed, then he continued...] After the boy had satisfied himself, he decided to uncover the face of the woman he had raped.

    :eek: :eek: :eek: I T W A S H I S M O T H E R ! ! ! :eek: :eek: :eek:

    He continued, "If you don't want to end up like that boy, come to the front as the music plays and renounce rock music!" (As if rock music necessarily leads to mother raping.)

    He had those kids crying and blubbering by using a disturbing story that I'm told was stolen from a Clint Eastwood movie. :rolleyes:

    [ July 12, 2002, 02:34 AM: Message edited by: Baptist Believer ]
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    I differ on the use of illustrations with Tom and Joshua. I do believe the text should be clearly explained. However, illustrations do help paint pictures of ideas and concepts. They are worth a thousand words. They also help to illustrate application. It is one thing to tell people what they should do. It is immensely better to show them what to do or how a principle plays out in a life context. They help to grab attention and set the table for a message, to build some anticipation about a life context and how the Bible answers it.

    Illustrations must be used however with great care to verify accuracy and they must be used without twisting or turning. If the person of the illustration was sitting there, he ought to be able to say, "You got it right."
     

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