Topicalitis: A Pet Peeve

I am on all kinds of mailing lists and receive lots of emails a day peddling the wears of the sender. Some good offers and some not so good. Today, I received an email offering a huge collection of sermons, some in the form of sermon starters. Most of what was advertised in the advertisement was topical, which gives rise to topicalitis, a common and somewhat contagious “preacher disease” that has engulfed the American clergy and is often the sum total of what is fed to the congregants on “any given Sunday.” We seem to have a penchant for minutia!

Here’s an example of topicalitis from the free download from the email I received:

God The Father
Text: Psalm 25:2

Introduction

  1. All our needs are supplied through God: Phil. 5:19
  2. All our enemies are defeated through God: Psa. 7:1
  3. All our safety is found through God: Psa. 17:2
  4. All God’s light is given to us: Psa. 17:28
  5. All God’s healing is bestowed upon us: Psa. 30:2
  6. All our worship is renderedm (??): Acts 24:14
  7. All thirst is satisfied through God: Psa. 63:1

Conclusion

What a hodgepodge (a mixture of dissimilar ingredients; a jumbling of mixed passages) of Scripture. A presentation like the one above, preached all across USAmerica every Sunday, is often based on the presupposition that every verse in the Bible is equal to every other verse in the Bible. This is just wrongheaded thinking. Verses are not inspired in and of and by themselves. As an example, the main text for the “sermon starter” above is Psalm 25.2. If you check it out in your Bible, it is only part of a sentence. No wonder folks don’t trust the God of most Christians when all they do is quote Scripture, in most cases misquote Scripture, by only quoting a fragment of the text. What is one to think? God can’t talk in complete sentences.

What have all the verses listed in the “sermon starter” have in common. Nothing! This very subjective way of handling Scripture is why, in my opinion, many of God’s people live fragmentively, because the food they receive is fragmented.

Well, some may call this a mini-rant. Nope, it’s just a pet peeve. So on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best, I would rank this “sermon starter” and all such sermons that produce topicalitis as a -100,000,000 and add as many zeros as one wishes. It is simply a “sermon stopper!”

BTW: if you are a topicalitis preacher, Stop it! If you are a pew sitter who has to listen to such on a regular basis, ask your preacher to Stop it! If you are a weekly topicalitis Bible teacher, Stop it! If you are a listener to this kind of fragmented teaching of the Scripture, Stop listening to it!

Instead, find someone who is willing to invest time and energy in telling you the whole story of God and is not content with offering you fragments. Topicalitis produces anemic believers. Are you anemic? Let story be your antidote.

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