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When Jared Moore, pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, Kentucky, offered a few copies of his new study “Ten Sacred Cows” up for review, I signed up. He explains that sacred cows are traditions that have moved from the place of practice to the position of worship in our churches. Some of these are simply practices that have become more than comforting to parishioners, others are points that have been adopted by ministers as they lead local churches in a direction not intended in Scripture.
Moore chooses ten and discusses why they are poor theological substitutes for the God we should be worshiping. I would suggest that the list might be expanded and modified as each local church is studied for practice and procedure.
Concerning the booklet itself, it is a relatively short read (slow reader that I am, it took me about thirty minutes to read and digest the whole thing—including acknowledgements). The cover leaves a little bit to be desired, though. The stick drawing of a cow that is periodically standing or “tipped over” gets the point of the exercise across, but won’t see the study taken as seriously as the author would like.
Be that as it may, I think the little study has merit on its premise, but I should like to see it do a bit more than it does. The book serves to introduce and simply define the “sacred cows” within it. There is even a glancing blow at “tipping” them. Each topic is only give a couple of pages’ discussion—some expansion would prove to be healthy for the topic. As a matter of fact, the book itself reads a little more like a book proposal (and I’d probably read the expanded version, too).
Here are the “cows” which Moore introduces to us:
- Entertaining Sermons – not that sermons being entertaining is bad, but that making them so for the sake of entertainment is (lesson to preachers: don’t bore your audience, but be preachers not stand-up comics)
- Anything for Souls – the idea of “buying” your audience.
- Numbers Equal Revival – the struggle of many preachers (especially Southern Baptists like Moore and myself) to judge the success of ministry with the bottom line of numbers/
- Experience-Centered Worship
- Nostalgia – the “good old days”
- Relevant Sermon – always beware of buzz words.
- Relativistic Interpretation
- An Easy Life
- Tolerant Love
- Successful Ministry
Some of the “cows” chosen by the author bear a bit more explanation that others, and the two to three pages spent on each one gives less than adequate time for either the explanation or the debunking, and certainly not enough to both. If the purpose is to start the conversation, then the study is a good one. However, the assumption of agreement on behalf of the reader may be a little optimistic without a bit more detail.
I think this is a pretty good start because with the slightly humorous approach, Moore keeps from sounding overly curmudgeonly in his discourse. For that I give high marks. As I’ve stated, though, the book would do well to have a bit of expansion on the ideas. (3 out of 5 reading glasses)
—Benjamin Potter, August 14, 2013
[An electronic form of this book was made available by the author for the purposes of review. I have not been otherwise compensated for this review all opinions are that of the reviewer.]