Content-free sermon by Alan Bennett

A couple of years after the release of The Best of Sellers (see previous entry) came the revue Beyond the Fringe, which launched the careers of Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Jonathan Miller.

One of the many high spots in the show was Alan Bennett's sermon preached from the text "My brother Esau is an hairy man, but I am a smooth man" - a nice contrast, followed up by some fine examples of repetition, rhetorical questions, similes and anecdotes - but more or less completely devoid of content.

When I was at school, a group of us persuaded the chaplain, or padré, as Bennett would have called him, to listen to it. Perhaps predictably, he didn't seem to think it was at all funny and couldn't see any connection between it and the sermons he and visiting preachers were inflicting on us at the compulsory services we had to attend every Sunday.

See if it reminds you of any sermons you've heard - and, if you want to see the full text and other gems from the show, click the title above to access details of the book on Amazon.


Hugh7 said...

Compare the Bennett sermon to this from Alistair McGrath.

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Steve Finnell said...


What is the meaning of calling on the name of the Lord? Many assume that believing in Jesus and saying a form of a sinner's prayer constitutes, calling on the name of the Lord. The problem with that theory is none of the conversions under the New Covenant support that assumption. Not one time is anyone ever told to believe and say the sinner's prayer in order to be saved.

The apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost quoted the prophet Joel, Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (NKJV)

The apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon under the New Covenant. Peter did not tell the 3000 converts to believe and say the sinner's prayer.

Peter preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He preached Jesus as both Lord and Christ. When they heard this they asked Peter and the rest of the brethren what they should do?(Acts 2:22-37) Peter told them what to do. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NKJV)

How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost call on the name of the Lord and become saved?
1. They believed that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.
2. They believed that God raised Jesus from the grave.
3. They repented. Repentance is a change of heart. Repentance means to be converted so that God may forgive your sins. Repentance is to make the intellectual commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God. (Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38)
4. They were immersed in water (baptized) so that their sins could be forgiven.

How did the 3000 on the Day of Pentecost not call on the name of the Lord?
1. They did not say a sinner's prayer.
2. Not one person was asked to pray for forgiveness.
3. Not one single man was told to be baptized as a testimony of his faith.
4. No one was told that water baptism was a just an act of obedience.
5. No one was informed they were saved the very minute they believed.
6. Not one person was told that water baptism was not essential for the forgiveness of sins.
7. Not one person was told to be baptized so they could join a denominational church.

Jesus said he that believes and is baptized shall be saved. (Mark 16"16) Jesus did not say he who believes and says a sinner's prayer shall be saved.

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