I have a confession: while driving around Greenville, South Carolina, I enjoy listening to our local gospel station. Now this is not your up to date, synthesized, plastic gospel music. I’m talking about the good ole fashioned gospel quartets, with a bass who growls like an old dog and a screaming high tenor. I’m talking about the sweet a capella gospel singers who wail and whine and have a passion for Jeezus.
And the preachers! They all have a voice gone gravelly from years of yellin’ and preachin’ the gospel and hootin’ and hollerin’ and callin’ poor sinners to turn to the Lord while there is still time. There’s a tenderness and simplicity and heart felt authenticity in the best of them that tickles me and touches me and fills me with admiration.
Of course I don’t agree with them theologically, and I’m sometimes amazed and aghast at both their ignorance and the things they say which contradict the Bible they claim to love and revere so much. One preacher was saying the other day, “Ya’ll need to confess your sin when you offend the Lord. Now you can come and talk to the preacher about it if you want to, but he can’t forgive your sins. Only Jesus can. No sense going to talk to some priest either. He can’t forgive your sins. Only Jesus can.” Whoops. that’s not what the gospel says. Jesus’ commission to his apostles to forgive sins in his name is one of the clearest and most Biblical aspects of the apostolic ministry in the Catholic Church.
But enough of that. One of the preachers made me laugh out loud. He was getting down on the big mega churches and said, “Now I know ya’ll are tempted to go running off to the big community church. ‘Oooh pastor!’ you say, ‘It’s a growin’ church. It’s movin’!’ Well, I’ll tell you something. A dead dog on the side of the road is growing and moving too. It’s swelling up in the sun and its crawling and moving with maggots, but it’s still daid as can be. Same with that community church.”