The Courage to Correct

September 7, 2010

I really appreciated the following admission by Paul Rees, the Senior Pastor of Charlotte Chapel.  It begs a question for the rest of us: when we make errors in our preaching, do we have the courage to correct it?

“It is always dangerous to go beyond your preaching notes. And last Sunday I added, off the cuff, the ‘fact’ that the High Priest used to enter the Holy of Holies with a rope around his ankle so that if he died there he could be dragged back out.   I pulled this fact out of the back of my brain as somewhere along the line I had heard someone say this…”



  1. Twice I had to admit the errors like that by sending an email to the church’s mailing list.

    One error was telling people that Simon means “sand”, and Jesus changed his name to “rock”. I said that only because some preacher said it somewhere else. And I haven’t checked the dictionaries before preaching!

    Another error was using a wrong etimology of a word.

    But what about doctrinal errors what we have outgrown during the years? Can we admit them or just continue with current (updated) knowledge?

  2. I couldn’t agree more that we need to be ready to confess our mistakes and sins to the congregation – the more we speak, the more likely we are to sin in some way or another, and as preachers we do more speaking in public than anybody. It’s not just the right thing to do anyway, it’s also pastorally good to set an example to our people of repentance – ‘our pastor doesn’t just talk about repenting – he does it.’ I think this extends to other sins in preaching – if we exaggerate a personal illustration to make ourselves look good, if we are too harsh with our flock in some point of application. If our sin is public, our repentance should be too.

    Ironically, the example given was of the High Priest entering the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement – and his first duty that day was to make atonement publicly for his own sins as a priest – to publicly repent of his failures as a leader.

    Just BTW (because I’ve just read it in preparation for preaching on Lv 16 this Lord’s Day) the thing about the rope around the waist is half right – according to Tremper Longman III it was a later rabbinic prescription that crept in. So not Scriptural, but it did happen!

  3. Interesting thoughts here, I have gone back and from the pulpit admitted to an error or two and corrected myself. This is the problem with extemporaneously speaking, I try to reserve any thoughts that are not in my text to only come out with an illustration or perhaps an implication of the text that comes to mind when preaching but as far as exegetical work, we got to get that right before we ever step into the pulpit, thats my thought anyway. And my wife has reminded me that my extemporaneous illustrations are not thought out well…so no excuses for not studying and preaching what we have prepared beforehand.

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