This summer I have ventured into an 11 week sermon series. I asked people to give me questions they have had on the Bible, God, United Methodism, or whatever. The worship team and I picked 11 of these questions and those are my sermons for the summer. I am 3 weeks in now and I have been enjoying it. I usually preach the lectionary but I have ventured off here and there for a couple of weeks. This summer though is the longest I have been away from the lectionary.
As I have been preaching this series I have felt that I am connecting more with the congregation. One reason is that I am answering some questions they have about faith and God but also because the sermons seem to be coming from a different part of me. For example, this week’s sermon was on Why did God make mosquitoes? This is a great question and enabled me to talk about the fallen nature of the world and how we are soaked in sin.
My dilemma though is finding the right scripture to go with each question. Some have come easy others I had to search. It is in that searching that I had to question myself, am I prooftexting? Wiki defines prooftexting as “the practice of using decontextualized quotations from a document (often, but not always, a book of the Bible) to establish a proposition. Critics of the technique note that often the document, when read as a whole, may not in fact support the proposition.”
I want to tear my cloak when I hear ministers taking scripture out of context to defend arguments or ideas (I have talked about this with Joel Osteen). I can deal with it if it is scriptural but when prooftexting is present I get turned off. Is finding scripture to go with a sermon prooftexting? That questions keeps coming to my mind.
If I take what Wiki says about prooftexting I guess I am not. I don’t decontextualize these pieces of scripture. I make sure they are sound in their theology and not taken out of context. I guess I am answering my own question here, but it is something that has been on the fore front of my mind as I have gone through these sermons thus far.
Anyone else feel the same way? Does anyone else feel dirty picking cherry picking scripture to define the points of your sermon?
With this said, what scripture would you use to answer this question (this week’s sermon) – Was God Lonely When He Made People?