Trivializing the Gospel

It always amazes me that men who are called to simply proclaim God’s Gospel through the exposition of God’s word trivialize their calling by gimmicks and tying to make something of nothing. A good example of that appeared in our local newspaper. Rather than finding his sermon material in the Bible he found it on a pizza box. And then went on to basically preach a works-righteousness sermon that brought great gain — not spiritual gain, but weight gain no doubt.

Donatos pizza box pledge inspires sermon

Special to the CJ

Some may say that pizza and church are foods for the soul. The two came together recently when one local minister stumbled onto the promise of one pizza chain and thought it would become a key ingredient for a great sermon.

Ed Bialon, minister of the Cumberland Church of Christ, was about to throw his Donatos Pizza box away one evening when he noticed the company’s pledge printed on the box top.

It reads: “We believe in great pizza, which means we believe in only the finest and the freshest toppings used in abundance. And, we believe in getting those toppings in every bite. We believe in pizza making without shortcuts. Because great pizza is a passion, and we believe that passion is contagious. In turn, we believe great pizza can change the world. Yes, we believe in absolutely everything pizza should be. And we invite you to believe the same.”

Those well-crafted words left an impression. “I didn’t want to be outdone by a pizza company,” quipped Bialon, who is well known for injecting every-day life into his Sunday sermons. “When I read those words I just knew I could incorporate them into a great sermon.”

And he did, dishing out a heaping helping of pizza anecdotes in a sermon about Acts of Random Kindness to a congregation of more than 120 in early June. The sermon in its entirety can be seen at the church’s Web site,

Meanwhile, local Donatos franchisor Chuck Coldiron learned of the sermon and immediately delivered a copy of it to company founder Jim Grote in Columbus, Ohio.

“I was blown away,” exclaimed Coldiron, who opened the Somerset restaurant in March 1998. “Our principles are not just words, and I believe Ed (Bialon) absolutely shared the essence of our principles. It’s humbling that our values can be used for such a higher cause.”

When Coldiron heard about the Acts of Random Kindness sermon at the Cumberland Church of Christ and the parallels the preacher shared about Donatos’ mission, he was moved to act. Coldiron decided to serve Donatos Pizza to more than 150 churchgoers following Sunday morning worship service July 13.

Also there to help serve was company founder Grote and his daughter and current Donatos President and COO Jane Grote Abell. Both have a passion for their pizza principles but stop short of comparing it to Bialon’s higher cause.

“We listened to his sermon,” said the elder Grote. “He said he has a better product; and he does.”

Donatos Pizza was founded in 1963 by a 19-year-old Grote on a promise “to make the best pizza and make your day a little better.” Today, Donatos and its franchise partners operate nearly 175 stores throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama and North and South Carolina.


6 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, this type of thing is pervasive in the church…trivializing the Gospel and neglecting the life-giving Word (Psalm 19:11). A good quote…”In the absence of an authoritative, and perhaps privileged, interpretation [of life and its meaning], one that can comprehend all of life, what we are left with is simply our own private perspectives. We are left only with our own story, our own individual petite histoire, our own private combination of life experiences and intuitions” (“Above All Earthly Powers” by David F. Wells).

    For another good current day example of gimmicks, see today’s (Thursday, July 24, 2008) USA TODAY cover story: “Guys are few in the pews: Churches change to attract men”; “Some churches offer ‘Beast Feasts’ for male bonding.”

    Thanks for the blog!

  2. Wow, good thing he wasn’t inspired by one of those obnoxious television ads or something worse.

  3. Finding inspiration from everyday life to get the message of God across was something even Jesus did, think about it.

    Isaiah 5:20

  4. Steve, I agree that Jesus did indeed use everyday things to get His message across. But to use a commercial product that puts itself up as something near god-like is crossing the line IMHO.

    I suppose that your quoting of Isaiah 5:20 was intended to say that I am doing that. Well I would contend that in reality that is what one does when they take anything other than the Word and teach/preach it with clarity.

    If you read the article you will see that he preached a kind of moralism, works righteousness, not the Gospel. Illustrate the Gospel form everyday things . . . but don’t talk as though “Random Acts of Kindness” is the Gospel.

  5. The newspaper article may have come across as that, but I took the time to listen to the whole sermon online and it was not just a random acts of kindness sermon. It was a message encouraging Christians to go out and show the love of Christ to everyone. The whole sermon was straight from Scripture, the pizza box was an inspiration nothing else.

  6. I would like to know if you listened to the sermon before commenting on the news article? Remember as well. If you think that Ed has done something wrong then you have a biblical responsibility to go to him as a brother first. Did you ever try to contact Ed about this issue that you seem to have? Or did you simply decide to bash him without ever talking to him, or asking him any questions?
    How Christians act toward each other is important. How you have handled the situation brings no honor to God. I hope you will learn from this error.

    (Matt. 18:15) & (James 1:26)

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