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When AI can Write Sermons

The recent high-profile AI chatbot ChatGPT, released by Microsoft last November, had attracted one million users in just five days. It has now become one of the most rapidly adopted technology. However, some have raised concerns about whether it will replace humans and put them out of work in the future. Some began to consider whether this technology could be used in the pulpit. In fact, Chat GPT can write sermons based upon biblical teachings.

Photo by Andrea de Santis

Can churches use AI?

Generally speaking, AI has the potential to make church ministry more effective, and can be of great importance to churches and clergy alike. In the near future, it can provide more faith-related information and resources to help those in ministry. The use of AI will allow churches to save time and money, since it can help users to find useful answers. For example, when I asked ChatGPT to explain Apostle Pauls letter to the Ephesian church, it  promptly responded like a powerful and convenient Bible interpretation tool.

Someone asked this chatbot to explain what the gospel is. It replied: The gospel is the good news of the salvation of Jesus Christ. God loves us and sends his only son Jesus to the earth to die on the cross for our sins. Our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus saves us from our sins so that we can live an eternal life. To be with Him forever in the heaven is our hope when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

The answer given by ChatGPT is clear, concise and biblical. Considering this, it is likely to soon become an effective tool that helps further the ministry of the church. Its growing popularity among people is obvious, as content creators can use it to produce better content with greater efficiency. Currently, ChatGPT can write articles, imitate the writing style of celebrities, or even can compose personalized poems. Given that you can ask this chatbot to produce poems that mimic the writing style of Tang Dynasty poets Li Bai or Du Fu, with the right prompt it can also generate a sermon in a similar style to Augustine or Spurgeon.

If this chatbot can write biblical and persuasive sermons for pastors, then why not use it? But here is a problem. For clergy, it can take hours or days to complete a sermon, whereas ChatGPT only needs seconds to generate the content for a sermon by responding to the prompt with a few verses. Even though the content may not be good enough, at least it is usable.

It sounds very tricky. Perhaps the people who come to church are unaware of the fact that the sermon is not written by the person in the pulpit, but by the artificial intelligence. Imagine their reaction when they find out that the message they like has not been prepared by the pastor.

Standing Before the Tree of Knowledge

As a pastor, I feel like myself standing before the Tree of Knowledge (cf. Genesis 3), with the temptation in front of me. Our questions such as what can stop preachers from using AI to write sermons for themselvesor how can we know who is writing sermons, are hardly discernible.

But the real concern has nothing to do with how to discern, but rather knowing the true meaning of preaching and why God calls upon us to preach the gospel? A sermon is never a large body of knowledge, nor a combination of bullet points and sub-bullet points. Pastors need to have a thorough understanding of the Scriptures and then take the message to the people, not just to deliver a few words, but to spread the gospel. Believers go to church not for a motivational speech, or a biblical or ethical seminar, but for the heavenly good news told by Gods messengers.

Robots can generate informative and rich articles, but they usually fail to create thought-provoking sermons full of power of vitality. Even if the machine can easily tell how many times the word of sinappears in the Bible, it cannot make people confess or repent. The chatbot is not a living being, so it can never replace human beings.

Unless God gave it a spirit to turn it into a spiritual machine, a robot would never have a mind of its own to preach the gospel to people. And the fact is the Creator only forms humans from dust and breathes a breath of life to make us become living beings. This reveals God’s love for people. The Most High values honest hearts and wants us to serve willingly and wholeheartedly. Indeed, technological advancement brings us great convenience, so in many cases, it is a blessing for human beings.

But technology has its limitations. Take robots as an example. They can be good housekeepers, teaching assistants, and effective search engines; but they cannot write sermons, stand in the pulpits, or even go to prayer meetings for us. These are the very moments when we can feel that we are with God and nurture our relationships with Lord.

The reverence and closeness to God that goes beyond what a machine can do is of vital importance for pastors. The body of Christ, the Church, is made up of human beings. God is pleased with our complete dedication, not with our wisdom, intelligence and abilities. If I fall into the trap of using a machine-written sermon, then I am only serving to earn a living.

Artificial intelligence is a challenge to churches. It challenges our recognition of Gods sovereignty and our obedience to His will and His plan for us. We can find the real joy and satisfaction in following His plan.

Perhaps it is too early to say that this technology has fundamentally changed our way of life, but it is possible to see many revolutionary breakthroughs. In response to this, serenity is required, so that we will not abandon our ethnic standards and biblical values alike. Therefore, we can embrace this upcoming AI journey with a balanced and open-minded attitude.

Author: Guo Wei

Translator: Bei Feng