This spring a certain Christian layperson has been criticized for not exiting his local church when he disagreed with something his pastor preached.
The experts on the subject have been, as far as I can tell, media personnel who never go to church, do not know what sermons are for, and have not experienced lively congregational participation; people who value fidelity very little and church hopping and sermon shopping very highly; those who have political stakes in their judgment; and people who pay no attention to the contexts of messages.
Less vocal are church members who are unsure when to advance toward the pulpit in appreciation, when to back away, or when to finally head for the door, slam it and shake the aisle-dust off their feet.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).