True Preaching

David Wells, in his new book The Courage to be Protestant:

“Preaching is not a conversation about some interesting ideas. It is not the moment in which postmoderns hear their own private message in the biblical words, one unique to each one who hears, and then go their own way. No! This is God speaking! He speaks through the stammering lips of the preacher where that preacher’s mind is on the text of Scripture and his heart is in the presence of God. God, as Luther puts it, lives in the preacher’s mouth.

This is the kind of preaching that issues a summons, which nourishes the soul, which draws the congregation into the very presence of God so that no matter what aspect of his character, his truth, his working in this world is in focus, we leave with awe, gratitude, encouragement, and sometimes a rebuke. We have been in the very presence of God! This is what great preaching always does.”

(David Wells; The Courage to be Protestant; p 230)

6 responses to this post.

  1. And it is EXPOSITORY, borne out of a sound hermeneutic.

    Many thanks for this.

  2. Posted by Walter Chen on February 21, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    i agree with what you are saying, but would you elaborate a bit more from the biblical text regarding the ministry of preaching and how preachers are called to draw people into the presence of God through a sermon?

  3. Posted by Morgan Pixley on February 22, 2009 at 12:17 am

    I’ve traditionally been taught that God is not speaking through the preacher, rather the Holy Spirit works through the words of the preacher as far as he’s faithful to the Word God has spoken once for all in the text of Scripture.

    Is Wells asserting a different understanding, or am I merely over-analyzing?

  4. I have not read David Wells book, so I too may not be understanding his full intent, but this is what strikes me – God is really speaking to and through three separate people.

    First, he is speaking to and through the author of the text. Second, he is speaking to and through the believing pastor, who is taking the God inspired scripture, communicating that scripture, plus his Holy Spirit inspired teaching of that scripture – the application. And third, he is speaking to and through each believer who is hearing that message – as the Holy Spirit within the believer is being led to understand and apply the teaching in their own lives.

    So quite directly, God is speaking to and through three seperate people. And in a very differently – while the scripture is the same, the application is different.

    This weekend our teaching was on Ephesians 5 – Submission. The text is the same, but the application is applied differently in each persons life, and indeed the application may change throught a person’s life. As a son, as a father, as a grandfather, the Holy Spirit is working in each believers life differently, even though the scripture is the same. So in a very specific way, each person is hearing a unique, private message – so long as the Holy Spirit is actually alive and working in that person.

  5. I was going to express my reservations about Wells’ quote, but “dac” does it better than I can. Wells’ first paragraph seems to totally negate that the Holy Spirit is active in the preaching of the Word. The Word is not a dead thing that only means one thing to all who are listening. It has one meaning in it’s biblical context, but it is alive and active and the Holy Spirit applies it in the lives of each hearer in his/her own life situation. It seems like a cheap shot at postmoderns. But “dac” words it better…

  6. I am not a fan of some emergents because they do place the bible in the “it’s got some good ideas, but the rest I will pass on” category, but I do think that using the word “conversation” as a metaphor is correct – God is speaking to each of us, through the Holy Spirit, conforming us to his image. It is not the meaning that changes, but the application in individual believers that is the key – that “conversation” between the Holy Spirit and each of us. And that “conversation” between believers, discussing God’s word and it’s application is part of that process.

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