Archive for April, 2008

Weekend Fun: Shalom!

“men-pleasing” theologians

A theologian, of course, does not have an obligation to include all his most controversial notions in his popular books; some of those notions are just too technical and difficult. But sometimes there almost seems to be a conspiracy (of the theologian in question and his supporters) to make a theology appear (to church courts, to beginning students, to supporters of educational institutions) more orthodox than it really is. Sometimes, indeed, there is the paradox that with one audience a theologian will make his work appear as conservative as possible, but with another he will try to show how radical, new, and different he is. It is often hard to avoid finding in such behavior a kind of “men-pleasing” of the sort that Scripture condemns.

John Frame,  The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 325.

“Biblical-Theological Preaching” and the problem of application

Conservative biblical-theological preachers, sailing in the wake of Gerhardus Vos, tend to ignore (or even oppose) the use of application in a sermon. They expect the listener to make his own application (if any) of the sweeping truths they set forth on their excursions from Genesis to Revelation as they chase down a figure or a theme. Or, like Barth, they leave the application to God. The two major differences between some present-day preachers and Barth is that the former (1) do not hold to the neoorthodox “encounter,” and (2) are less concerned about the contemporary scene than Barth.

Abhorrence of direct application leads biblical-theological preachers of this sort into common ground with many liberals who believe that the use of the indicative alone, to the exclusion of the imperative, is adequate. At best, such preaching is applied (if at all) by implication; at worst, only by inference. Application becomes the task of the listener rather than the preacher.

~Jay Adams, Truth Applied, 20-21.

We’re Done, thanks for the memories!

That’s all folks. It has been a great joy to be a part of Expository Thoughts over the last few years but we have had a massive change of focus that has caused us to see preaching in a whole new light. The fact is we no longer think preaching is worth it. Seriously, who wants to sit for an hour on a Sunday morning and listen to someone else talk?

We agree with Doug Pagitt who has written:

Any preaching practice that results in less collective interaction and building of one another should be used very sparingly and abandoned as soon as possible (Preaching Re-Imagined, 26).

Pagitt has been saying this for years and we are saddened it has taken us this long (two thousand years) to see his wisdom. Of course others before him tried to tell us this. Fred Craddock wrote way back in 1969 that “Expository preaching has been found guilty of archaism, sacrificing the present to the past” (As One Without Authority, 17). But the real prophet was Fosdick who asked, “Could any procedure be more surely predestined to dullness and futility? . . .Nobody else who talks to the public so assumes that the vital interests of people are located in the meaning of words spoken two thousand years ago.”

We know the implications of this are huge. Maybe Pagitt was right, “So our sermons are not lessons that precisely define belief so much as they are stories that welcome our hopes and ideas and participation” (Church-Re-Imagined, 166). He also noted that, “It seems to me that this call to communal spiritual formation challenges us to re-imagine the gospel itself” (Ibid., 31).

I see now that its not only preaching that needs to be re-imagined but the gospel as well. Who would have thought that they were connected? Thanks for stopping by, see you on the flipside.

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