Avoiding the Difficult Things of Scripture

Matt Chandler in his book, The Explicit Gospel, discusses the severity of God.  He notes that we often talk about His loving kindness, but rarely do you hear from the pulpit His severity.  Chandler offers a rebuke of the current church growth movement.

He writes:

Paul says to note God’s severity.  Mark it down.  Remember it.  Consider it.  But we are disobedient.  Because God’s severity is not warm and fuzzy as God’s kindness, we not only don’t study or contemplate it, but we don’t’ even note it.  We live in a day and age when, from pre-seminary all the way through seminary, prospective pastors are fed the pabulum of church growth.  Then once they hit the playing field of ministry they are fed it more and more.  From books to classes to seminars to conferences, the church is absolutely consumed with growing at all costs.  Forget whether the members of our churches have any real depth or substance to them; we just want to be able to measure and count the three Bs: buildings, budgets, and butts in the seat.  The Bible does say a few things about churches growing in these ways, but today this has become the prevailing mind-set of ministry in evangelicalism, and it is biblically perverted, missionally distorted mindset,

This avoidance of the difficult things of Scripture – of sinfulness and hell and God’s notable severity – is idolatrous and cowardly.  If a man or woman who teaches the Scriptures is afraid to explain to you the severity of God, they have betrayed you, and they love their ego more than they love you.  In the same way that it is not loving or kind not to coach your children on the dangers of the street and the dangers of the swimming pool, so it is not loving not to warn men and women about the severity of God, (pg. 41).

Thoughts?  Is Chandler spot on or is he being harsh?

Don’t miss an update, sign up for Shane’s emails!


  1. Jeremy says

    It’s true. God is perfectly holy and entirely just. There are significant ramifications to that. But for two generations now, people haven’t wanted to hear it. We’ve surrounded ourselves with people who will tell us what we want to hear: God loves us and forgives us, and we’ll all gather around the heavenly campfire and sing Kumbaya. We like to think that evil people will go to hell, so we won’t have to worry about them in heaven, and we have no problem identifying historical monsters (e.g., Hitler) as evil, but we wince at the suggestions of Romans 3:23 and 6:23a because when you get right down to it, we think that people are generally good and therefore bound for heaven. So we persist in living a feel-good, half-committed, lukewarm Christianity, totally oblivious to the fact that God will spew the lukewarm from His mouth.

    And we marvel at the fact that record numbers of young people are self-identifying as having “no religion.” They’ve picked up on the fact that our “faith” – indeed, we – are inconsistent and counterfeit, and they want something authentic. Really, truly authentic.

    In short, we must wrestle with difficult passages and concepts, including the severity and justice and holiness and transcendence of God.

  2. QuoVadisAnima says

    As a Catholic, I have often wondered how other Christians can trust pastors to preach the difficult things with necessary forthrightness whose employment is dependent on the good will of the congregation or a congregational committee?

Leave a Reply