Tales from the Pulpit

Illustrations, urban myths and legends told from the pulpit in sermons as gospel truth!
And then when you investigate the story, it turns out it never happened,
Famous example: Russian Scientists drilling into the earth’s core recorded the sounds of screams coming from the center of the earth, proving there is a Hell.
Or the Proctor and Gamble logo being Satanic.

Add yours.

I’m sure many Jack Chick illustrations were used. :eek:
I remember one about a missionary who was in a territory where the tribes were at war, and one tribe surrounded the other which had the missionary in it. The missionary prayed and the other tribe stayed around them all night but didn’t attack. Next day the other tribe made a peace offering. They asked why they hadn’t attacked, and they said it was because of all the shining soldiers that were surrounding their village, protecting them that night.

Great inspiring story.
And completely bogus. :cool:

I’m assuming you meant from Protestant pulpits? Those you listed were staples at the Protestant Church I attended years ago.

Another was about a NASA scientist who crunched some numbers and “proved” that Joshua really did stop the sun. Of course, it was not true.

The Internet has it’s good points. While it does make it easier to pass on urban legends, it also makes it easier to track them down.

Many of these are recycled from Jack Chick…

There was one where NASA, allegedly, believed that the moon was covered in 2,000 feet of space dust from billions of years of time; and so they designed the landing craft in 1969 with long legs so that it would not sink out of sight. (Never mind that landing would have been pointless, given that the men would neither have been able to walk nor lift off again.)

Then, of course, they landed and found there was no huge depth of dust, ergo, the moon was not billions of years old.

Horsefeathers. Unmanned craft had surveyed the moon for some time before 1969.


Many of these stories were used to manipulate people to “come forward” to “get saved”.

Ones I can remember:

Frogs will stay in the hot pot if you put them there before they start to boil. (Love to find out if this story is true)
The shepherd breaking the leg of the wayward lamb.
People who die horrible deaths before they were able to “make a decision for Jesus”.
NASA Scientists Find Out That Time is Missing, find it in Joshua.

I remember that one. Always thought it would be a stupid thing to do. :rolleyes:

Lutheran homiletics seems so staid by comparison. :yawn:


I’ve heard all of these, but none from a pastor, and none as if they were true. They were brought up as something crazy to laugh at, kind of like this thread. I’ve read the supposed lamb leg breaking from a Catholic here–it’s not true.

My theory, though it’s not funny: the people who promulgate and believe these stories are the spiritual descendants of all the Catholics before the Reformation who swallowed all the horrible Jewish blood libel stories. Gullible and paranoid spiritual genes never die, they just change religious labels.

I used that one myself back in my preaching days.

Then there were the “tithing” illustrations. Stories of car breakdowns, lost overtime, insurance rate hikes, and various other unfortunate events that miraculously coincided with the exact amount you were robbing God of.
BJU preachers used those stories a lot. “God’s taking His tithe”. :rolleyes:

If there is meat in your message, you don’t need dramatics.

Never heard them from a pulpit, these were more like things you heard in Sunday school from other kids. Christian urban legends, really.

Men have one more rib than women, because God took the rib from Adam to make Eve.

A guy was being tailed once and prayed for safety. The guy tailing him let him go. The man who’d prayed then saw his friend drive by, and the friend later apologized for not stopping to pick him up - he couldn’t fit the two large men who were with him into the car.

A Jehovah’s Witness one I’ve heard - a woman was being plagued by bad luck and such so she called an elder to come and pray over her house. They found an old Christmas tree the last tenant had left in the attic, and its removal ended the ill fortune.

A man was ‘inspired’ to purchase some milk, and drive up to a house in the slums where he gave it to a woman who, it turns out, needed some milk desperately for her infant.


It helps having doctrine to pull from, and seminary training to express it understandably. :thumbsup:


I’ve heard that story from a few different people. How do you know it was bogus? I just mean it’s a good story and I’ve always kind of liked it. It seems like something God would do is all.

It’s much easier to prove that something happened rather than try to prove it didn’t. If something actually happened you’ll have witnesses (not that I trust eyewitnesses much) and you can pretty much stop checking with the first witness. But to prove it didn’t happen one would have to check with everyone who was there.

So if there is no historical basis for something, no witnesses, there’s a good chance it’s not true.

Being human, most of us enjoy touching, good-ending stories. People will repeat them thinking they are inspiring. But - when some people find out the stories are not true, they start to doubt the true historical stories. Much better to tell the truth from the beginning.

But lively by comparison with Catholic homiletics. A few years ago the theological librarians’ conference my wife frequently attends met in St. Louis, and one of the worship services was held at the LCMS seminary. The dean preached a good law/Gospel sermon, and one of his illustrations of the human predicament was a row of people sitting on fenceposts, toppling off one by one. You look up the line and down the line and see people toppling, or something like that. Pretty tame really, but it completely freaked out a group of (fairly liberal) Catholic librarians with whom my wife was sitting. They seemed to think that it was bizarre and inappropriate for a preacher to remind his hearers that they were going to die some day. . .

Missouri Synod Lutheran pastors are taught in seminary it preach Law and Gospel as defined by C.FW. Walther. There is very little story telling and none of the “I” type sermons where the pastor puts himself into the sermon.
The basis Walther’s Law and Gospel was his twenty-fivetheses which were a series of lectures:

Thesis I.
The doctrinal contents of the entire Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testament, are made up of two doctrines differing fundamentally from each other, viz., the Law and the Gospel.
Thesis II.
Only he is an orthodox teacher who not only presents all articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, but also rightly distinguishes from each other the Law and the Gospel.
Thesis III.
Rightly distinguishing the Law and the Gospel is the most difficult and the highest art of Christians in general and of theologians in particular. It is taught only by the Holy Spirit in the school of experience.
Thesis IV.
The true knowledge of the distinction between the Law and the Gospel is not only a glorious light, affording the correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, but without this knowledge Scripture is an remains a sealed book.
Thesis V.
The first manner of confounding Law and Gospel is the one most easily recognized — and the grossest. It is adopted, for instance, by Papists, Socinians, and Rationalists, and consists in this, that Christ is represented as a new Moses, or Lawgiver, and the Gospel turned into a doctrine of meritorious works, while at the same time those who teach that the Gospel is the message of the free grace of God in Christ are condemned and anathematized, as is done by the papists.
Thesis VI.
In the second place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is not preached in its full sternness and the Gospel not in its full sweetness, when, on the contrary, Gospel elements are mingled with the Law and Law elements with the Gospel.
Thesis VII.
In the third place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is preached first and then the Law; sanctification first and then justification; faith first and then repentance; good works first and then grace.
Thesis VIII.
In the fourth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Law is preached to those who are already in terror on account of their sins, or the Gospel to those who live securely in their sins.
Thesis IX.
In the fifth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when sinners who have been struck down and terrified by the Law are directed, not to the Word and the Sacraments, but to their own prayers and wrestlings with God in order that they may win their way into a state of grace; in other words, when thy are told to keep on praying and struggling until they feel that God has received them into grace.
Thesis X.
In the sixth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher describes faith in a manner as if the mere inert acceptance of truths, even while a person is living in mortal sins, renders that person righteous in the sight of God and saves him; or as if faith makes a person righteous and saves him for the reason that it produces in him love and reformation of his mode of living.
Thesis XI.
In the seventh place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when there is a disposition to offer the comfort of the Gospel only to those who have been made contrite by the Law, not from fear of the wrath and punishment of God, but from love of God.
Thesis XII.
In the eighth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher represents contrition alongside of faith as a cause of the forgiveness of sin.
Thesis XIII.
In the ninth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when one makes an appeal to believe in a manner as if a person could make himself believe or at least help towards that end, instead of preaching faith into a person’s heart by laying the Gospel promises before him.
Thesis XIV.
In the tenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when faith is required as a condition of justification and salvation, as if a person were righteous in the sight of God and saved, not only by faith, but also on account of his faith, for the sake of his faith, and in view of his faith.
Thesis XV.
In the eleventh place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the Gospel is turned into a preaching of repentance.

C.F.W. Walther’s Law and Gospel continued:

Thesis XVI.
In twelfth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher tries to make people believe that they are truly converted as soon as they have become rid of certain vices and engage in certain works of piety and virtuous practises.
Thesis XVII.
In the thirteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when a description is given of faith, both as regards its strength and the consciousness and productiveness of it, that does not fit all believers at all times.
Thesis XVIII.
In the fourteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the universal corruption of mankind is described in such a manner as to create the impression that even true believers are still under the spell of ruling sins and are sinning purposely.
Thesis XIX.
In the fifteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the preacher speaks of certain sins as if there were not of a damnable, but of a venial nature.
Thesis XX.
In the sixteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when a person’s salvation is made to depend on his association with the visible orthodox Church and when salvation is denied to every person who errs in any article of faith.
Thesis XXI.
In the seventeenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when men are taught that the Sacraments produce salutary effects ex opere operato, that is, by the mere outward performance of a sacramental act.
Thesis XXII.
In the eighteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when a false distinction is made between a person’s being awakened and his being converted; moreover, when a person’s inability to believe is mistaken for his not being permitted to believe.
Thesis XXIII.
In the nineteenth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when an attempt is made by means of the demands or the threats or the promises of the Law to induce the unregenerate to put away their sins and engage in good works and thus become godly; on the other hand, when an endeavor is made, by means of the commands of the Law rather than by the admonitions of the Gospel, to urge the regenerate to do good.
Thesis XXIV.
In the twentieth place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the unforgiven sin against the Holy Ghost is described in a manner as if it could not be forgiven because of its magnitude.
Thesis XXV.
In the twenty-first place, the Word of God is not rightly divided when the person teaching it does not allow the Gospel to have a general predominance in his teaching.

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