Pastor James J. Barker

Text: I KINGS 18:25-27


  1. One of the most exciting stories in the Bible is the account of the prophet Elijah versus the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18).
  2. It is not my intention to preach today on that story but I would like to point out that in I Kings 18:27, the Word of God says "that Elijah mocked them."
  3. There are people today who say it is always wrong for a Christian, especially a minister of the Gospel, to mock wicked people, to attack false religion, to name names, or to use strong language from the pulpit.
  4. For example, I was recently at a meeting in Queens, and I made some critical remarks concerning Dennis Rodman, Howard Stern, and the pope. A lady approached me after the meeting and said that I was wrong and that it was unscriptural for a preacher to speak in this manner. Her pastor (a friend of mine) was there and he seemed to agree with her, claiming that he never attacks other people from the pulpit. In fact, he said he considered it "bad pulpit etiquette" to do so.
  5. I want to go on record in saying that I disagree. And I think that this type of thinking does not come from the Bible, but from the worldly, neo-evangelical crowd. New evangelicalism is a worldly philosophy, based upon compromise and accommodation.
  6. Also, I might add that the neo-evangelicals are very inconsistent when it comes to applying their philosophy. While it is true that they are very loving and sweet towards the Roman Catholics, the liberals, and the cults; it is also true that they can be very harsh and judgmental when it comes to criticizing fundamentalists.
  7. I have entitled today’s message, "Is it Wrong For Preachers to Preach Hard Against Wicked People?" Please notice that we are talking about preaching against wicked people, not Christian people. I do believe it is wrong to preach hard against God’s people. I am a Baptist, but I recognize that many pedobaptists are saved. I am not a Calvinist, but I recognize many of them are saved. I hate these modern translations of the Bible, but I recognize that many sincere Christian people use them. So, let me emphasize that we are talking about preaching against the devil’s crowd, not born-again people. When it comes to God’s people, we should be patient and kind. But when it comes to the devil’s crowd, we should not pull our punches.



  1. There is this popular idea today that it is unscriptural to attack wicked people. People will say that we cannot win them to the Lord if we are too sharp or blunt. We need to just preach love and this will be enough.
  2. This was not the approach that John the Baptist took (cf. Matt.14:1-12).
  3. Today’s phony-baloney preachers will not stick their neck out like John did. I read in the paper that Tony Campolo and Bill Hybels, two popular new-evangelical preachers, are frequent guests at the White House. And at ex-President Clinton’s inaugural celebration, they buttered him up and said what a wonderful Christian he was! Think about it!
  4. If they were like John the Baptist, they would have spoken out about his adulteries, and his veto of the partial birth abortion bill, and his pro-homosexual position, and so on.



  1. When this lady upbraided me for speaking out against the pope and whiskey-drinking priests, I pointed her to Matt.23:24.
  2. She was forced to admit that our Lord did indeed use sarcasm and ridicule, but tried to get off the hook by claiming that it was alright for the Lord to do it because He was God.
  3. But the fact is that all the preachers in the Bible preached this way – Stephen (Acts 7:51,52), Peter (Acts 8:20-23), Paul (Acts 13:8-11).
  4. Paul is an excellent example of a preacher effectively using sarcasm to make his point. The Judaizers were teaching that circumcision was necessary for salvation (Acts 15:1). Paul rebuked their legalism in the book of Galatians and said: "I would they were even cut off which trouble you" (Gal.5:11).
  5. In case there are some who do not think Paul was referring to circumcision, study it carefully and you will see that he was. And lest you think I am misinterpreting the apostle Paul, listen to these words from some well-known commentators:
    • "Even as they desire your foreskin to be cut off and cast away by circumcision, so would that they were even cut off from your communion, being worthless as a castaway foreskin" (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown).
    • "His indignation led him to make a strong statement: ‘I would they were even cut off,’ or better, would mutilate themselves (RSV). As an emasculated man has lost the power of propagation, so should these agitators be reduced to impotence in spreading their false doctrine" (Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary).
    • "The word refers to bodily mutilation. Paul expresses the wish that the Judaizers would not stop with circumcision, but would go on to emasculation" (Kenneth Wuest).
    • "If they are so enthusiastic about one ‘mutilation’ of the flesh (circumcision), why not go the whole way and castrate themselves – as did the eunuch priests of Asia Minor in honor of their strange, barbarous gods? This is the only meaning of apokopsontai, ‘cut themselves off’. The language is strong, but it is not a coarse jest" (R. Alan Cole).
    • "These words seem harsh by contemporary standards…Such physical mutilation for religious purposes was commonly known in Galatia, being practiced in the worship of Cybele" (Homer A. Kent).
  1. Paul was also not afraid to name names (cf. I Tim.1:19,20; II Tim.2:16-18; 4:10,14). Neither was John (III John 9-11).



    1. I probably get more criticism for my stand against Romanism than for anything else. I am not complaining, I can duck and dodge the brickbats.
    2. As one brother said to me recently, "What can we expect? This is NYC." Not only that, but most modern day Christians not only are ignorant of the Scriptures, but also woefully ignorant of church history.
    3. 100 years ago, the greatest Baptist preacher in England was Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He said, "The pope of Rome is not the vicar of Christ, he is the vicar of antichrist!"
    4. 100 years ago, one of the greatest Baptist preachers in America was A.J. Gordon. He said, "The true pope is the devil himself, and the true cardinals are his demons."
    5. The Baptist Confession of 1688 identifies the pope of Rome as "no other than Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself." We Baptists trace our roots way back to the Waldensians, who also identified the papacy with antichrist.
    6. Were our Baptist forebears harsh and unscriptural? I do not believe so. They knew they were in a battle with the forces of hell and so they preached the truth plainly and boldly.


  1. I would like to wrap this up by telling you of a preacher who has been described as "base" (II Cor.10:1) and "rude in speech" (II Cor.11:6). His critics complain that "his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible" (II Cor.10:10) – "bad pulpit etiquette" indeed!
  2. He even had the audacity to rebuke a popular and well-respected fundamental preacher (Gal.2:11).
  3. Should we remove this uncouth roughneck from the Forum? Call us up and let us know what you think.

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