That old fashion fire and brimstone / by kevin murray

America is a religious nation, of which, unlike some European countries, in which their beautiful religious edifices mainly seem to serve as places of destination for tourists, America's religious institutions are actually utilized for their congregants and most definitely has relevancy to a significant swath of Americans.  That said, the days when those that went into a religious service in which, the preacher preached some sort of version of fire and brimstone, in order to light a fire underneath the devotees  to encourage such to examine their lives and thereby to repent of their sins, appears to be in quite a steep decline.  Rather, many that minister today are much more about forgiveness, happiness, and prosperity, while correspondingly being far less about accountability, humility, and atonement.


To a large extent, one significant reason why so many preachers no longer breath fire and brimstone from the pulpit, has a lot to do with people, overall, not being willing to readily accept that message, and since congregants are free to move from religious institution to religious institution, or even to stop worshipping, altogether, those that preach, in order to have a congregation to preach to, have had to adjust to the "new normal".  Further to the point, many people are stressed out enough already, have enough problems to deal with, and are struggling in so many ways, that they will not tolerate their place of sanctuary being an institution that applies even more weight upon their shoulders.


Yet, one of the most salient reasons to go worship in public in the first place, is to hear what should be heard, and for the church to take the position, that its main job is instead to make their congregants simply feel better about themselves, or to preach prosperity, or happiness, is the sort of soft message which doesn't challenge people and, quite frankly, fails to have those worshippers actually face their sins.  There isn't anything necessarily wrong with making people feel better about themselves, or expressing the sentiment of the value of having reasonable material aspirations, as well as emphasizing the importance of pursuing your own happiness; but to ignore the fact that life consists of keeping score of what people do or don't do, and consequences thereof, and that it all really matters, is to ignore that the decisions made in life have real and lasting meaning.


In consideration that people do need a place of sanctuary, and an opportunity too for that sanctuary to provide them with some degree of comfort and substance, it probably wouldn't be right that every sermon be one of fire and brimstone, but that doesn't mean that none of those sermons shouldn't address and challenge people about their sins, selfishness, and mistakes; for a good preacher has the duty as well as the sacred obligation to be an agent of good, and that means seeing that which is sin as sin, and further that a good and faithful servant, in order to be a good and faithful servant, must not only repent of their sins, but that they must also do good in their actions and activities.


There is always that real need for fire and brimstone, for the world itself, proves that mankind, alone, far too often, is inhumane to one another, so that, it can be said, that in order for change to occur, first must be the acknowledgment of the error, then the repentance, followed thereupon with the knowledge and understanding of what is right and good, and finally the follow through in action.  For if that is not done, then this world will continue to be, what it so often has been for so many, a hell on earth.