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Predictable Preachers or Loose Canons?

The website www.phrases.org is an amazing stop on the electronic information highway, providing insight into the definition and origin of many familiar and not so familiar phrases which get tossed into daily conversation. Recently, as I was studying 1' Corinthians 4:17, the phrase "loose cannon" came to mind (more on that phrase in a moment). In context the apostle Paul is pleading with the Corinthian congregation not to be so enamored and carried away with every Tom, Dick, and Harry (sorry, there's one of those phrases) preacher that comes down the pike (oops, there I go again). The statement in 1st Corinthians 4:17 says, "For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church." There it is! Did you catch it? It's right there, at the end of the verse! The apostle Paul was a predictable preacher — not a loose cannon! Concerning his "ways in Christ" (his way of life in Christ), it was "as I teach everywhere in every church." According to Strong's Concordance the Greek word translated "everywhere" in this verse is pantachou (pronounced "pan-takh-oo") which means "universally; in all places, everywhere." The word "every" is pas which means "all, any, every, the whole." So far as his preaching was concerned, Paul was a predictable preacher, teaching the same thing universally, everywhere he went, in the whole church. Compare that to some preachers and churches today who are "loose cannons." According to www.phrases.org the phrase means "unpredictable." The term had a nautical origin from improperly secured canons which were likely to roll about the deck in a battle or storm and damage the ship. The application is easy to see. Concerning the gospel, all preachers ought to be predictable, anchored to the Bible, teaching the same thing everywhere, in all places, in all churches (1st Corinthians 1:10; 1st Timothy 1:3). Concerning doctrine, the Bible is predictable (unchanging) even if preachers and churches roll around like a boatload of loose canons (see Ephesians 4:4-6; Jude 3).

In his book, Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington explained that during the period after the Civil War, many people became teachers thinking it would be an easy way to make a living. One such fellow went from village to village, teaching for awhile and receiving pay for it. As he entered one town, the people asked if he taught that the earth is round or flat. He replied that he was prepared to teach either way. ...based on the preference of a majority of his patrons!  How is it where you worship? Is your preacher predictable, or is he a loose cannon?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ