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Why People Hate the Sermon on the Mount (Virginia Stem Owens)

Virginia Stem Owens

Our church is studying the Sermon on the Mount this fall, from Matthew 5-7.  In this past week’s sermon, one of our associate pastors, Rich Sylvester, found an essay by Virginia Stem Owens, an English professor who was teaching a class at Texas A&M University, 25 years ago. When Owens asked her students to read the Sermon on the Mount, she was a bit stunned by the written responses of her students:

“I had expected them to have at least a nodding acquaintance with the reading and to express a modicum of piety in their written responses. After all, Texas has always been considered at least marginally part of the Bible Belt.The first paper I picked up began, “In my opinion religion is one big hoax.” I was mildly surprised since this came from a student who had never expressed a single iconoclastic notion the entire semester. I glanced at the opening sentence of the next paper: “There is an old saying that ‘you shouldn’t believe everything you read’ and it applies in this case.”

Owens realized that very few students had ever read the Sermon on the Mount before. Not only that, whether her students were familiar with the Bible or not, the consensus of the class was that they found the sermon to be quite offensive.  Blogger Andy Naselli posted a copy of Owens’ paper online. It is worth reading over and praying over.

HT: Andy Naselli

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