profane ministry

This afternoon my Calvin class discussed Calvin’s application of the third command. In the Institutes II.8.22, Calvin says that not taking the Lord’s name in vain means, among other things, “we should not rashly or perversely abuse his Holy Word and worshipful mysteries either for the sake of our own ambition, or greed, or amusement….”

Our class immediately thought of how easy it is to take the Lord’s name in vain while preparing for or delivering a sermon. Do we study so that we will look good or to serve our Lord and benefit others? Then we thought of blogs and Bible tweets. We may pray that our inspirational tweets and blog posts will encourage others, but often they seem calculated to keep our platform alive and our name in front of others. To the extent that we share a Bible verse so that we will be noticed, to that extent we are taking the Lord’s name in vain. Calvin said so, I swear.


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  1. We are all rock stars now, aren’t we? Have you noticed photos of pastors lately? The dark back ground, the bright lights, the mood, the music, the marketing promote this don’t you think. Ministries are competing for a limited supply of cash. If we must blog or tweet to stay relevant, it says something about us as leaders and it says something about our congregations. Of course nobody from the congregation under my care tweet or facebook. Perhaps it’s also why the presence of God is so strong. I’d be interested if their is a balance between glorifying God, not profaning His name and promoting oneself for ministry and marketing sake? There is a tension that’s for sure.

  2. Rev. Bryant J. Williams III October 10, 2014 — 11:58 am

    Dear Mike,

    One other thought by a missionary friend of mine who wrote a ThM thesis on the this verse in connection to Numbers 6:27, “And they shall put My Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” The conclusion is that if a person claims to be a “Jew” or “Christian,” and does not live in accordance to that claim, then that person is “taking the Name of the LORD in vain.” Thus, Exodus 20:7 is not just referring to one’s speech about the LORD, but also one’s life that misrepresents the LORD.

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