When I was in seminary, I took Introduction to Preaching. At some point in our class, a fellow student asked the professor about whether or not it is appropriate to illustrate sermon points with stories that are untrue. The professor’s response to these questions (which I recorded verbatim): “The way I see it, the sermon is the time at which the Gospel is proclaimed as true. If you think that you can preach this Gospel while simultaneously attempting to deceive your congregation, be my guest.” Point taken, Dr. Long.
I recall my professor’s response because this morning I stumbled upon a list of stories that are commonly used as sermon illustrations (I’ve heard each of them more than a few times). These stories, as it would happen, are completely and absolutely untrue, but this is often not known by those who use them. So, spread the word!
How many have ever heard:
- That the “eye of the needle” is a gate in Jerusalem.
- That “gehenna” refers to a burning trash dump.
- That the high priest used to go into the Holy of Holies with a rope tied to his ankle so that he could be pulled out in the event that he died.
Any others you can think of, leave a comment!