Posts Tagged With: Preaching

Preaching and the SSM debate

Scandinavia crossI haven’t written a post for a long time but the current debate about “Same Sex Marriage” has had me pondering. I have been particularly disenchanted, on the whole, by the debate among Christians and I believe the quality of the debate (or, more correctly, the lack of it) reflects a far deeper malaise in our churches, that is, Biblical illiteracy. This has is a problem that has been a long time coming and which I believe has been caused by a poverty of preaching in general.

This poverty can be observed in two distinct ways:

The first is the shallow level of argument. Cheap proof texting and casual Bible references of deeply profound biblical concepts such as “love” and “marriage’ is just one example. I would have to say this has come largely (but certainly not exclusively) from pro SSM Christians. Too often the Bible is not seen as the eternal word of God and has not been read with depth and integrity it deserves. I will not disparage the motive because this has often come from those who have a deep compassion and proximity with those struggling with their identity.

The second, largely, comes from those against SSM:

I take as my example the “Nashville Statement” – a conservative evangelical statement which the signatories declare to be a biblical summary about marriage and sexuality, which, to be honest, I have no problem with as far as it goes. My problem arises in that it doesn’t go far enough.

When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman, the woman caught in adultery or Zacchaeus, (and we could add many others including the disciples) he didn’t begin with a “Nashville Statement”  he began with a relationship and only after that was established did he go further and reveal how they could be released from the problem we all have – human brokenness.

It maybe just me, but a “Nashville Statement” without that aspect of encountering our common brokenness has the smell of Phariseeism about it. This smell has been especially repugnant in recent generations because churches have been overwhelming silent and slow to act against abuses within their communities and have had to dragged into courts kicking and screaming.

Churches, in my opinion, are struggling with two key problems. How to read the Bible, the inerrant, eternal Word of God, richly and how to apply and live that Word in a way that is relevant and Christlike in 2017. Is this easy? Not at all! All the more reason to get on our knees, pray for forgiveness and return to His Word with urgency. Our response needs to be around the question, how do we apply the truth with compassion? Jesus was gentle with the broken and tough with those who should have known better. Too many of us have swapped that approach around.

That takes me back to the introduction. This confusion arises when preachers/teachers are not taking their God given role with the awe and responsibility that it deserves.

Categories: Christianity, Church, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Great Preaching

This long weekend, being hot, and therefore not conducive to physical work, gave me an excellent opportunity to read some old sermons. I read through sermons by George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon. It was a great way to while away the hours. While reading the works of these great men a number of thoughts struck me:

Source: pbs.org

Source: pbs.org

1. All the sermons I read were crammed with Biblical quotes and examples. These preachers used the Bible as their primary source. It was the well they constantly drew from; their first port of call. Even though they used the topics of their day, it was God’s Word that they stood on. There were no examples of pop psychology and glib jokes. They spoke on God’s behalf. Their aim was not to tickle ears.
2. The overarching story of Christ, promised in the Old Testament and delivered in the New was always central to their message. I found the cross constantly placed before me. I couldn’t dodge and weave. The Bible was a grand story not a series of fairy tales or even worse, a source of trite examples.
3. Finally, these sermons struck at my heart. They were passionate and didn’t allow me to simply listen for information, feel entertained or do some psychological self examination. Each preacher demanded that I consider my relationship with God and my place in His Kingdom. I was confronted by my brokenness and offered a solution to my condition. Whitefield, in particular, confronted fellow clergy as well.

I am not saying this style of preaching doesn’t occur today. It does, but it is in short supply. I have been to many different churches over the last 30 months. Psychology, information and a lack of passion is easy to find. I have also found passion without content. But Biblical passion, anchored in Biblical teaching seeking souls and declaring a Kingdom are, sadly, in short supply. Any person who feels called by God to preach could do well to go to these preachers of yesteryear and learn a thing or two. Even though I haven’t preached for a while, I felt convicted by these servants of God.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, George Whitefield, preaching, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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