How to listen to sermons

Wormwood’s advice in letter 16 of Screwtape Letters is very insightful:

“What (God) wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise — does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is ongoing. (You see how grovelling, how unspiritual, how irredeemably vulgar He is!) This attitude, especially during sermons, creates the condition (most hostile to our whole policy) in which platitudes can become really audible to a human soul. There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper.”

My application: the biggest factor in what we get out of (orthodox) sermons is us.

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