The Fire and Briimstone round was a delight to judge. There were many creative “refining” sermons. It is clear to me that this competition has brought forth some fruits. I was particularly pleased in the “confessional” aspects of this round and how people explored some different takes on judgement.
Wittywonka recounts his own time of procrastination with homework and links it to the worthlessness of the fig tree in Jesus’ parable that produces no fruit. “Cut it down” was the theme. He implored his audience to do good works to earn their salvation, but he also asked them to find the “good works within”. What God-fearing Pentecostal preacher would dare say such a thing as asking someone to find something within them? However, when asked the question “Why should you take up space on this earth doing sinful wicked deeds?” he was right on in the spirit of this round. Well done, sinner.
Whodey’s sermon is a testimony to the effectiveness of Ritalin. My complaints with his past sermons were a lack of focus and direction. This was his best effort so far. He uses a little known OT passage concerning Uzzah who had the misfortune of trying todothe right thing and screwed up and it cost him his life. The theme of this sermon is “don’t do the right thing; do what God asks you.” One thing I appreciated about this sermon is that he at least questioned the unfairness of what happened, but in true F&B tradition, points to God as the final judge of what is right. I could have used a little more confessional mode as I believed there is a sermon in this story for all of us, thus explaining why we are all neurotic. Do better next time, sinner.
The Skipper’s sermon provides a unique opportunity to hear from someone already in hell. A tremendous confessional sermon about what a miserable state of being he is in due to his falling away. This creative take set his sermon apart from the others. You could almost hear the bacon sizzling. Tormented he is. His choice of Scripture fit perfectly with his message. The best line: “I offer you the advice to go to church and bury your head in it as if it were sand.” He should go to hell just for saying that.
Hand of Hercate surely was salivating over the F&B round. He was in his element. He would fit in nicely to almost all of the churches where I live. He was clear in provoking fear and judgement. One thing that he did that was nice was he had a “cool off” session at the end. That was one complaint I’ve had about the sermons in previous rounds: they end too abruptly. True to most F&B sermons he did not have much confessional stories in it so I will deduct for that, but not much as it is better to talk about others when talking about hell and sin. Plus I’m afraid if he ever did start talking about his own sin, it would be a long long sermon. Also, you might want to begin with the passage you are going to use.
Pawnhandler decided to pick on Christians with his sermon. He went after God-fearing people of faith who want to send their kids to Bible school and Christian school. His sermon could have been entitled” Your God is Too Small.” He encourages Christians to go beyond their usual causes of bombing abortion clinics and help little old ladies cross the street. Dammit this is the F&B round! What’s wrong with bombing abortion clinics? Ok, seriously, you did a good job and the sermon would be well suited to a church that is stuck on itself with little sense of mission.
Vistesd uses his favorite verse (John 8:3) for the F&B round. Very good use of confessional and he throws us a curve ball with his sermon. I didn’t get any sense of guilt or condemnation that I would expect from this round. Instead he uses Scripture to support a more lenient view of God. At least that was my take. He brilliantly uses the images of “staying within the lines” as an analogy for correct belief, but tells us the Spirit (She?) goes where she will. I will deduct a point for using a feminine pronoun in this round. I can see where most would find some comfort in this sermon as it is an invitation to draw outside the boundaries. Only in a Pentecostal church would this be a prophetic sermon. Or maybe a rabid 12 Step meeting.
Josephw uses Rev. 20:15 to talk about the need to be in the book of life or face the lake of fire. I felt all uncomfortable reading it which means one of two things: either I belong in hell or I didn’t care. May be a combination of both. Compare his sermon to that of Pawnhandler. This is a fascinating comparison. One focuses on belief, while the other focuses on providing good works. Either Pawnhandler or Josephw is going to hell. Somehow they both say they are saved. Joseph, I would suggest you talk less about the literal heat of hell and maybe more about the separation from God from your personal viewpoint.
Results: Well done by all. As I said it is so gratifying to see creative learning taking place. This was the hardest round to judge by far. I felt The Skipper and Vistesd really stood out with creative use of confessional preaching. I heard more of the bacon sizzling with the Skipper, yet I found more hope with Vistesd, but then again, who wants hope in this round. Hand of Hercate , Josephw and Whodey had the tone down. Whodey was the most improved, even if it did result from Ritalin. Pawnhandler and Wittywonka had very similar themes and tone. I’ll give this round to The Skipper and Vistesd in a dead heat.
1) 2, not exactly a fire and brimstone sermon
2) 3, pretty creative application of the parable
3) 2, sort of faithful to the parable's meaning
4) 3, good confessional mood
5) 1, one of the most lifeless fire and brimstone sermon's I've encountered
1) 3, death by smiting right off the bat
2) 3, good use of a more obscure passage
3) 3, respects the integrity of the passage
4) 2, not really confessional or personal
5) 2, such a strong start, but I needed more variety of the horrors awaiting the unsaved