GLENN: Matt Walsh who works with TheBlaze, wrote an article that was posted yesterday that you need to read.
A certain sermon I heard a little while ago stuck with me. It began with a reference to Toy Story. Yes, the cartoon with talking toys. The Pixar film, the pastor explained, contained many examples of friendship. Friendship is important. It's good to have friends, in case any of you thought friendship was bad.
He was standing up boldly, if anyone wanted to stand up and boldly declare otherwise. Remember that Randy Newman said, "You got a friend in me."
The pastor remembered it. He quoted it at length. Now, I have no problem with a sermon that draws on art or literature outside the Scripture to illustrate a theme contained in it. But all of the poems, novels, songs, films, paintings, sculptures that may reveal some divine truth, he went with Toy Story?
Oh, but Toy Story is relatable, you see. Relatable to whom?
The message preached from most of the pulpits in America is just like this: Superficial, childish, empty, and seemingly designed to insult the intelligence of anyone who hears it.
Christianity is dull and lifeless in this country. Because that's what the church and leaders have done to it. They've made it into something so bland, so generic, and inoffensive that it no longer bears any resemblance to the faith of our Christian ancestors. Indeed, the primary goal of the modern church is to avoid offense at whatever cost.
And this is precisely why they are dying. Because they're not merely boring people. The problem is more specifically that they are starving people.
There's no substance. No meat. Nothing in the message being preached. The congregants sit there and slowly starve to death. Your flocks are starving, churches. And you are starving them.
We're getting killed out here. Do you even understand that? We drag our sorry, beaten carcasses into church every Sunday. Fewer and fewer even bother to do that anymore. After another week of languishing in Sodom. And what do you have to say? Friends are good. Really?
The troops are suffering massive defeats in battle. And when they consult their commanding officer, what do they hear? Yeah, it's rough out there, guys, so let me tell you what I learned about teamwork from watching Guardians of the Galaxy.
People need to be woken up. They need to be offended. Offend us, pastor! Make us uncomfortable. Make me look at my reflection and see the things I'd rather not see. Pull me out of my comfort zone. Make me angry at myself.
Or at you for making me angry at myself. Can you stand to have people angry at you? If not, then you've chosen the wrong profession and the wrong religion.
Whoever doesn't want to be challenged, whoever insists that they are above approach, whoever wants only sweet nothings whispered in their ears, whoever wants a comfortable Christianity does not want Christianity at all. There are not limbs on the body of Christ, there are malignant growths. They are toxic. Cut them out.
We pray that they return to the faith, but not until the faith -- not until the faith is the faith they truly desire.
If they are sitting there hoping to have their ears tickled and their preconceived notions confirmed, it is the duty of any pastor or priest to disappoint them and offend them. Because sometimes there is no other way to tell the truth.
GLENN: Matt Walsh is here. That article is at TheBlaze.com. Matt, you know what I like about you is you take on -- you take on your own. You know, you're not pointing fingers at others. You're taking on your own. Your own faith, your own church, and I appreciate that. And making people uncomfortable.
What is the future of Christianity?
MATT: I don't think it has much of a future in this culture, if this is what we get. This is what strikes me when I go to church -- and I know that, and I wrote that, and there were plenty of Christians who said, "Well, my pastor is great. I don't know what you're talking about." And that's fine. If you have a great pastor, a great church, then good for you. You should be very happy for that and grateful. But to deny that this is a problem, is absurd. We know that the faith is decaying in this culture. It's very clear.
You look at any indicator, starting with church attendance. It's lower than it has ever been. There's more atheists in this country than there's ever been. You just go right down the line. And it strikes me that at least from my experience and from talking to people, that the main problem isn't that people are going to church, and they're hearing hearsay and blasphemy. Well, they're hearing that too, so that's a problem.
But even more than that, it's not that it's just -- it's just this nothingness. It's like you're going to church and the person talking to you doesn't understand -- doesn't realize what century they're living in or who they're -- you know, it's like --
GLENN: It is a complete disconnect from -- you walk in, and it is completely disconnected from the world you just left. And not in a good way.
GLENN: It's as if it could be 1950. It could be 1800. It could be 2024. There's no connection at all to my life. It feels that way to me.
MATT: Yeah. And to the struggles that we're --
MATT: It should feel not disconnected. But it should feel like an oasis of sorts. Like, you are -- you're in a safe place. A sanctuary is what they used to call it. And it's what is supposed to be.
GLENN: See, may I point something out to you? Because I wonder if you're -- if we're saying two different things. Because I just -- I was just asked to be a part of the bishopric in my faith, and it's a lay ministry.
And we're wrestling with this very thing. And I -- I said, you know, sanctuary, it needs to be a sanctuary for God's people to be able to come and be safe. And you can say anything.
But, you know, the name Israel itself means wrestle with God. God expects you to wrestle with him. He expects you to ask tough questions. He expects his people to say, "Wait a minute. Hang on just a second."
And what's happening is, I think our -- our churches should be spiritual hospitals. I'm coming in there every day, and I need triage. Please, help me, help me, help me.
I need spiritual medicine all the time. And instead, what's happening is our churches are turning into some place that is either an entertainment center, or it is a place where all the people think that they're doctors, and they're talking about all the other patients that they need to help. I think that's upside down.
MATT: I think it's like churches are today -- what's that dumb -- well, I didn't like it that much -- that Robin Williams movie where he pretended to be a clown.
STU: Patch Adams? That's a weird reference to bring into this.
MATT: Okay. Well, I'm saying, people are dying, and so the DACA puts on a clown nose and makes them laugh, which is great. But they also need medicine. It's like, if I'm going to a hospital, it's great to make me smile. But also, treat what's killing me. I don't want a doctor to just come --
GLENN: I don't know if you -- I don't know if you just watched the trailer of Patch Adams, but he was a very good doctor as well.
MATT: I don't know. But let's put this reference aside.
GLENN: All right.
MATT: Put this doctor aside. Churches are like what I just imagined Patch Adams to be, which is, hey, let's ignore the actual cancer that these people have, what they're struggling with. And let's just make them smile or put them to sleep.
GLENN: So here's the argument -- the pushback -- because I've talked to pastors. And, quite honestly, this is happening in conservative media, it's happening in liberal media as well. It's happening all over: No, no, no, but if I say those things, then I'll diminish the audience, or I'll diminish the number of people who are coming to this church, and then I won't have a voice at all.
Where my feeling is, you're not going to have a voice at all anyway. You have to understand, you just keep going along -- there's no -- why would anyone come to you when I can get it from watching Patch Adams or I can get it from watching Toy Story? I need something that is real, authentic, and eternally true that can tell me and help me next week.
MATT: Right. Exactly.
GLENN: But nobody is doing that because they're afraid people are going to leave.
MATT: Right. But there's no reason for that. You're not giving them anything that they need. There's no reason for you to exist, unless you tell them the things that might make them leave.
And I think that -- if we get to a point -- it would be great in this country, separate the wheat from the chafe. Let's figure out where we actually stand as Christians. So if every church operated this way, if they got up and told the unvarnished truth. And you had -- you have a church of 100 people, and 98 of them get up in the middle of the homily or the sermon and march out and you leave two there, well, then, great. Because those are the two. Those are the actual two Christians. Let's start there. Now we know how many actual Christians we have in the church, two. Let's start with them. Let's build them up. Give them what they need. And then maybe they can go out. Because this is the whole point. They're supposed to go out into the mission field and go win back the other 98.
But when you're not -- so it's really the two. It's the two that you need to kind of cater to. You need to give them what they need because -- here's the problem: If you lose those two, but you keep the 98 --
GLENN: The 98 --
MATT: -- then you're done. You're not really a church anymore. You're just --
GLENN: They're leaves that will blow away in the fall wind.
STU: So going back to your story here on TheBlaze, because this is interesting -- are you making the point, like they have to make sure they're making the uncomfortable points in any way possible and not skimming from that?
STU: Or are you making the point that they shouldn't be making these points via the vehicle of Toy Story references?
GLENN: Yeah. Hang on. This is an important question. Are you okay with a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, or are you just saying there's nothing in those?
MATT: If there's medicine -- yeah, if there actually is medicine in it. But what we're getting is the sugar, but there's no medicine. So it's just sugar makes the sugar go down, which is great. But there's no medicine.
STU: That's a good way to get diabetes as well.
MATT: Yeah. Now, if you can figure out a way to use Toy Story to make some deep spiritual point that's going to like satiate the deep yearnings of these Christian believers, then you're very talented. And, great, go for it. And you have seen much more in Toy Story than I saw. Because I've seen the movie many times, and all I see is talking toys. But if you see something deeper, then great. Make that point.
But in my case, all he made was the point that, yeah, let's make friends with people. Well, I just -- just -- then just put on the movie Toy Story. Let us watch that. At least it would be more entertaining anyway. Tim Allen and everything is in it.
STU: Because you made a point earlier about -- about bringing the tough truth, right? And you have to make sure you're giving the tough truth. And you did that with an illustration -- kind of an illustration of the trailer of Patch Adams, in a way that I think -- like, that's an effective way of making those points. If you could bring the truth through those vehicles, I don't necessarily mind it. I will say it's a sad circumstance that Christians have to get that message through movies. And it's more relatable because of movies.
GLENN: Jesus spoke in parables. I mean, I actually have -- from the pulpit, I have actually -- and this made a lot of people very angry. But I actually -- I talked about Willy Wonka and the Golden Ticket. And I tied it into --
STU: You're not helping my case here.
GLENN: I know. And I tied it into a gospel message. I think it can be done.
MATT: It can.
GLENN: But if I'm talking about, hey, and, by the way, you can lick the wallpaper on the way out, no, uh-uh. No. You can't.
MATT: Yeah. It can be done if -- and that's something -- and you're right, Jesus used parables that were very simple to appeal -- so that the people that were listening could understand it. But obviously the point he was making was very deep. And sometimes the points he was making were frankly terrifying.
MATT: He was finding a way to package it so that -- not just so that it would be palatable, but so that we could wrap our minds around this concept. So if people are doing that, then fantastic. But that also takes a certain level of insight and talent that I think a lot of pastors just lack, which is no -- you know, that's -- I don't think you need to be necessarily a brilliant public speaker to be a pastor. You know, there could be normal people that are taking these jobs. But if you're in that camp, then I think you just need to be more direct. And even if you're just writing it down and reading from it, but just tell the people the truth that they need to hear. Don't try to get too cute with it, unless you really are a brilliant orator, which most of these people aren't.
GLENN: Thanks, Matt.
STU: You can read the story from Matt Walsh up at TheBlaze.com. And how many times a week are you doing -- are you doing columns at TheBlaze?
MATT: Two times a week. Then I got a podcast coming out.
STU: Nice. Yeah, the podcast too. Listen to that as well. Matt Walsh. Thanks, Matt.
MATT: Thank you.