Monday, July 24, 2006

A Few Propositions on Preaching

The root problem with much preaching today is a deficient of truth and sobriety. There is not enough truth radiating from the pulpit; it is not a truth zone. There is not enough zeal, not enough desperation for the reception and impartation of "truths that transform" (as D. James Kennedy puts it). The very resources of heaven reside in the sacred texts, but we fail to seize upon them.

Instead, preaching is too often sufficed with the banal, the light, the airy, and the frivolous. Let's take a religious idea and make it acceptable to a mass audience. God forbid! The audience is not sovereign, church growth pundits to the contrary. God is. Preaching should propound what you will not hear (nearly) anywhere else. As Peter said, "If anyone speaks, let it be "as a oracle of God" (1 Peter 4:11; KJV). Let people attend and listen for the right reasons: You are speaking as an oracle of God through the Holy Spirit.

We should preach Christ, not ourselves, as Paul affirmed. Yet in our postmodern culture, the self is endlessly flattered in every way and from every angle: "Have it your way." "You deserve the best." And on it goes. (On this phenomenon, see the book, Mediated by Thomas Zengotita.) People promote themselves shamelessly, pose shamelessly (see an earlier post on that) when Scripture says to never pose (the way of the hypocrite) and to let others speak well of you (and rebuke you). But the preacher should neither flatter himself nor his audience. As A. W. Tozer said, we should not console people in their sins, but disquiet them, disturb them, disorient them (and ourselves). We should not entertain, but edify. We should gain and hold people's attention through the truth of the message and the integrity of our character, principally our humility and love for God's truth.


dave and amy terpstra said...

I am in 100% agreement with this post.

Perhaps our preaching philosophies are not that far off after all.

Milton Stanley said...

Good word. I linked to your post today. Peace.