Judgment

A sermon in a continuing series on the Apostles’ Creed.

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Judgment. Well – that’s quite a sermon title isn’t it?

 

It almost makes you feel you’re back in the nineteenth century, when hell-fire and brimstone were the order of the day in sermons. That title makes me think of what may be one of the most famous sermons ever preached, by the great America theologian and philosopher Jonathan Edwards. It was entitled Sinners in the hands of an angry God.

 

When I was thinking about this sermon, and about that title, I was also reminded of a billboard that stands in a field outside the town where my parents live. As you come to a particularly treacherous turn in a country road, there stands the sign – Prepare to meet thy God. The choice of location makes you think that some congregation posted it there almost hoping that a driver would come to that curve a little too fast and would see the sign just as they skidded off the road.

 

As we spend some time thinking about judgment this morning, I’d actually like to begin by pointing out that judgment is a part of everyday life for us as a society and as individuals.

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Sermon: Doubt and Dogma (2)

A sermon preached in anticipation of a sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed. A few themes from this sermon are borrowed from Timothy Keller’s book, The Reason for God. (Sermon date: January 18, 2009)

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As we continue to prepare for a sermon series on the Apostles Creed, we turn from thinking about doubt last week to thinking about dogma this morning. And as we do so the first thing to notice is that our society’s perspective on doubt and dogma, are two side of the same coin.

 

       If, as we said last week, doubt is in fashion,            then dogma is very much out of                                                                                                   fashion.

       If doubt is considered sophisticated,                       then dogma is considered simplistic,                                                                                                       naive.

       If doubt is thought to be responsible                       then dogma is thought to be the height of irresponsibility.

 

 

In this vein we find Christopher Hitchens, the hyper-sceptic, the evangelical atheist, saying:

“To choose dogma over doubt is to throw out the ripening vintage and to reach greedily for the Kool-Aid.”

 

For Christopher Hitchens, doubt is a nice bottle of California Pinot Noir,

                      while dogma is a juice pitcher full of 

                                           coloured sugar water.

 

Doubt and dogma are but two sides of the same coin. Our society’s doubtful attitude toward religion goes hand in hand with a refusal of religious dogma.

 

This week we take up the question of dogma for the same reason that we took up the question of doubt last week. We do so because the attitudes and perspectives of those who live around us have an impact on us. We don’t live in a bubble, sealed off from Canadian society. We are part of that society. We can’t expect ourselves to be immune from questions or criticism or different ways of thinking.

 

When it comes to the specific question of dogma, our society often sends the message that those who hold to religious dogma are out of fashion, are naive, or are even irresponsible. And in hearing this we very quickly begin to think that we are out of fashion, that we are naïve, that we are irresponsible. As we stand to speak the words of the Apostles’ Creed on a Sunday morning we may even feel that we are going contrary to what is acceptable.

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