Bad Preaching

I am listening to a sermon podcast right now. In talking about holiness, the preacher taught:

The word “holiness” is synonymous with “wholeness.” So when we sing songs saying, “You are holy,” what we are really say is that I am broken and fractured. I am splintered. You are whole, complete, and lacking nothing. I am insecure, you’re not. I am co-dependent. I have issues, you have none. You have no kinks in your armor. And he says if you want to walk in that wholeness, there has to be discipline in your life.

That simply is not what holiness means…at all. While there is truth that we come to God with broken lives to be made whole, that is not holiness. Just because a word sounds similar to another English word does not make the two words synonymous. Holiness is about being set apart for the Lord, separating from things that are common, and in moral terms carries the sense of righteousness. You can refer to Mounce, Thayer or some other Bible dictionary and you will not find “wholeness” as the meaning of “holiness.” Mounce gives more than a page about the words “holy” and “holiness,” but let me quote one sentence:

hagiasmos (“holiness, sanctification, consecration”) is generally used in the NT the moral sense, referring to the process (or the final result of that process) of making pure or holy. (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary)

I strongly encourage audiences to search the scriptures and study what your preacher teaches. You have the rest of the week once the lesson is delivered to meditate and study on the things he taught. He may not be right. He may not have done his own homework, but is relying on someone else’s false information. Sometimes preachers just make mistakes. I know I do. Just because the preacher has gone to a Bible university, was trained in preaching, and has years of experience does not make him infallible. Nor does it make you inferior to him when it comes to examining and learning from the word of God. Examine what the preacher has taught. If his teaching is correct, then your study and meditation will go a long way to helping you grow in God’s word. If he is wrong, then you will not swept away by the error and can gently correct him the next time you see him.

The above example is a pretty bad mistake because it is easily avoided. Just a little study on the word “holiness” would have prevented teaching something false. If I had relied on this preacher’s work, I might have preached the same false information. Hopefully preachers will earnestly strive to put in the necessary work, preparation, and study before speaking to avoid such mistakes. Be sure to do your own work!