I was recently listening to parts of a few messages from the same pastor. Both of these messages (now three since I have added one since I started this post) were heavy on an explanation of legalism (very superficial, if not a bit ridiculous in places) and a diatribe against legalism. Aside from the fact that his explanation was not entirely sound, here’s my thought.
I doubt very seriously that the bulk of this man’s congregation struggles with legalism. That is simply not their issue. In fact, it is probably exactly the opposite. These are not people who need to be freed from directives about living, but perhaps need to be reined in a bit.
In other words, this champion of contextualization is failing to do exactly that. What he says is fine, I suppose (though there are some problems with it). It just is not where his congregation is living.
It’s hobby horse preaching, not contextualized preaching. What he was doing was (to quote him), “making fun of religious people.”
Part of (or all of) contextualization is taking the single meaning of the text and applying it to your hearers’ life—the one that they are actually living. It’s not an opportunity to beat on your favorite enemy.
Such preaching is not only bad manners; it’s bad preaching.