How to deal with prejudices


I had my parents listen to Dr. Murray from Scotland one night to see what they thought of him. Our sermon was on Why it's good to go to a Funeral. It was a very serious sermon and it seemed to be based on the NRC truth. The only thing my dad could get out of the sermon was that the minister didn't speak enough about the work of the Holy Spirit. My mom who walks the life of a believer liked the sermon and would love to hear more from him. I'm wondering what to say to my dad. He cuts down ministers from the NRC constantly. The only thing he can get out of sermons is to find something wrong. What do I say to him when he cuts another minister down with out being disrespectful to him? And WHY does he do this? Shouldn't we be listening to a sermon to get something out of it instead of cutting it down?
I listen to a sermon to try to get something out of it and when I listen to Dr. Murray I try to apply it to my life, but every time my dad slams him and all ministers I get discouraged and do NOT know what to do. Please help!


Dear Lynelle,

How difficult to have your dad react like that.  Ultimately only one Person can cure him from his hyper-critical attitude. Many people listen through their own filters to God's Word rather than in the Berean attitude of searching the Scriptures whether the things they heard were God's truth.  The "mental filters" are prejudices.  Even Nathanael had one, "Can anything good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46)  By that attitude he nearly lost the opportunity to meet with the Lord Jesus Himself. But notice how Philip responded to this put-off attitude?  He appealed to Philip with "Come and see."  There is no point arguing with your dad.  The more you argue and debate, the more he digs in his heels to maintain his position.  Only sharing with him "Come and see" as you did by inviting him to listen to the sermon of Dr. Murray.  Undoubtedly Philip prayed that Nathanael's heart would be changed when he would meet the Lord. Only the Lord Himself could do it and He did it!

Mental filters became part of us from the day of our fall into sin.  Our minds are darkened to the truth of God's character and to the value of His Word.  Education (which preaching is) can strengthen that kind of prejudice.  Every unregenerate mind will make misapplication of the best sermons.  Even Jesus' sermons were rejected by the unregenerate mindset of the hearers!  Those regenerated also continue to struggle with various 'mind-sets" that may take years to undo. I don't know whether your father knows of saving change of heart but if he doesn't, than that explains the major reason of his attitude.

Another fact is that many people love the sermons that focus on the description of the work of the Holy Spirit because it leaves them rather undisturbed.  The sermons of the prophets, as well as the Lord Himself and His apostles, is essentially very confrontational.  It is a hammer  and a fire as Jeremiah mentions.  When well and truthfully preached it hurts and pierces.  Hosea speaks about the "hewing of the hearers with the Word."  (Hewing is what you do with an ax!). That kind of a message makes the unconverted very uncomfortable and therefore the only way to remain 'comfortably unconverted" is to choose to listen to sermons that are "descriptive of the work of the Holy Spirit."  Now, don't take me wrong, such sermons in which the essential work of the Holy Spirit is traced and we are examined as to whether there is a saving work within us, are very important.  We are easily deceiving ourselves and building our hopes on sandy foundations. But such sermons aren't to be preached every Sunday.  Our guide for preaching is God's Word and the balance within that Word is to be balance of our messages.

Back to your question, keep doing what you are doing.  God's Word and Spirit are the only way your father's heart can be changed.  Pray that the sermons he hears may be blessed; his eyes be opened; his prejudices taken away;  his heart be humbled to acknowledge that he was/is wrong.

You are right in your attitude of listening to learn instead of to criticize.  The critical attitude of always finding what is wrong or missing will make one entirely miss the blessing.  No minister's sermon is ever going to be perfect or says everything there is to say.  A sermon is the expounding of one passage of Scripture and the Holy Spirit can use a sermon on how to parent children to convert a man and convince him or her of her sins.  Too many people think that only when the work of the Holy Spirit in how God converts His people is going to convert people.  Such a mindset is extremely narrow and indicates a great misunderstanding of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Your poor father misses many a jewel of truth brought out in the sermons because of that filter.  God alone can take that filter away from him.  So, keep sharing but also keep praying for him.


Pastor Vergunst