Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Sound Doctrine & the Expository Pulpit (Part 6)

Similarity No. 5:

the Purity of Doctrine

Fifth, Lloyd-Jones and MacArthur have been keenly aware they must exposit doctrinal truths. This focus has yielded a depth lacking in other expositors.  Murray observes there is “a growing difference between the older, [G. Campbell] Morgan tradition of exposition and MacArthur’s. In his case, as with Lloyd-Jones, the devotional thought is grounded on the bringing out of clear doctrinal principles. Exposition needs to lead hearers to doctrinal certainties.”  Lloyd-Jones
and MacArthur have been committed to preaching biblical and systematic theology from each text.

 Theology on Fire

Lloyd-Jones was adamant that true preaching must be doctrinal preaching: “What is preaching? It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man’s understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.”  Each sermon, he maintained, must set forth doctrinal truths. To this point, Lloyd-Jones reiterates: “Preaching must always be theological, always based on a theological foundation…There is no type of preaching that should be non-theological.” With deep conviction, he states: “You cannot deal properly with repentance without dealing with the doctrine of man, the doctrine of the Fall, the doctrine of sin and the wrath of God against sin.”  In other words, preaching must be aimed at teaching “doctrinal certainties.”

Consequently, Lloyd-Jones believed that strong preaching demands that the preacher have a strategic grasp of systematic theology: “To me there is nothing more important in a preacher than that he should know it and be well grounded in it. This systematic theology, this body of truth which is derived from the Scripture, should always be present as a background and as a controlling influence in his preaching.”  For Lloyd-Jones, sound doctrine was the very backbone of his preaching. Each passage must be tested by the analogy of Scripture and show its perfect consistency with the rest of Scripture.

Murray explains that for Lloyd-Jones, preaching expositionally is “not simply to give the correct grammatical sense of a verse or passage. It is rather to set out the principles or doctrines which the words are intended to convey. True expository preaching is, therefore, doctrinal preaching, it is preaching which addresses specific truths from God to man.”  Without teaching the doctrine of a passage, a sermon is devoid of power. Thus, Lloyd-Jones asserted, “The purpose of studying the Scripture is to arrive at doctrine.”  Setting forth the doctrine of the passage, he believed, is essential to the sermon.

The Faith Once For All Delivered

This same focus upon sound doctrine is found in MacArthur’s preaching. This noted preacher writes: “The pastor’s purpose is not to make Scripture relevant to his people but to enable them to understand doctrine, which becomes the foundation of their spiritual living.”  No matter what people want, MacArthur states, solid theology must be put forth. He writes: “People’s ears may be itching for anything but sound doctrine, but the faithful pastor will defy the spirit of the age, confront his own fear, and boldly preach the truth anyway.”  Accordingly, he states: “In his preaching and teaching, it should be the pastor’s sole objective to enlighten his congregation in doctrine that protects and preserves their spiritual health.”  In other words, right living results from right doctrine.

In MacArthur’s preaching, Murray notes: “The necessity for doctrinal content—the making clear of biblical principles—became an increasingly important part of MacArthur’s preaching.” To this end, MacArthur states: “Authentic Christianity is concerned first and foremost with truth. The Christian faith is not primarily about feelings although deep feelings will surely result from the impact of truth on our hearts. It is not about human relationships, even though relationships are the main focus in many of today’s evangelical pulpits…Biblical Christianity is all about truth.”  Consequently, MacArthur stresses that the absolute nature of truth necessitates that every pastor teach sound doctrine. He writes: “An excellent minister is to disseminate sound teaching to all people at all times through all means. That is the heart and soul of the ministry.”

Regarding current trends, MacArthur notes: “There is much relational preaching today that attempts to make people feel better about themselves and about how God might feel about them, but there is little forceful defense of the full truth. As in most periods of church history, strong and effective defenders of the faith are at a premium.” Expositors of sound doctrine is the dire need in this present hour, he believes, those who uphold the standard of sound words. Such a commitment to preaching “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” galvanizes the pulpit.


Article by Dr. Steve Lawson (used with permission)

Should we declare bankruptcy on matters of “science”?

I just noticed that the Biologos website has a ringing endorsement from Robert Schuller, you can’t make this stuff up.

We are entering an epoch whereby Science and Faith will only serve to prove that with God ALL THINGS are possible! Bless your work, BioLogos! Keep being smart! Keep being Possibility Thinkers for the glory of God!”– Dr. Robert H. Schuller ( Founder, Crystal Cathedral)

All this has me thinking about bankruptcy but not of the financial kind. We are told by Biologos that evolution is the only intelligent response to understanding origins and biblical cosmology. Don’t worry however, Tim Keller says you can still keep a literal view of Adam and Eve. Thinking out loud here, does this mean that Eve was still created from Adam’s side or did she too evolve from earlier species? More to the point, what I really find interesting is that this proposed understanding is tied to the literal resurrection of Christ (see the title and point of Keller’s article). So why is it acceptable to interpret the text in light of perceived scientific criterion and conclusions  in one place (i.e., Gen 1 & 2) and not in other places like the Gospels and their empty tomb? In other words, what will happen when Biologos eventually gets around to dealing with the resurrection? You don’t have to be a scientist to see their inconsistency or suspect that their methods are bankrupt.

Yes Minister!

One of my congregants once pondered after attending a conference, “I wonder if these folks run to the front of their churches every Sunday to get a seat the way they do here.” Is there a “rock star” culture amongst evangelicals, especially evident in its conference machinations? My reasoning is that if we’re even entertaining the question then the answer is probably “yes.” I believe this is all Carl Trueman, professor and dean at Westminster, is attempting to say.

I have seen the VIP seating, the special dinners, and the perks for speakers reach gross proportions. I have watched “great expositors” who can’t carry a conversation with an average Joe be heralded for their communication abilities. Yes, Trueman overstates a few points but this easily excusable once one discovers that he’s British (this is where you usually find the obligatory “just kidding” remark). The question remains as to whether we are stuck with the status quo or will this celebrity culture ever be seen for what it is. For your reading pleasure, Phil Gons does a nice job of rounding up the relevant posts on the subject.

The First Written Records

“People being what they are, the bureaucracy came first. The genesis of writing lay, not in the celebration of the human spirit, but in the need to say with certainty: This is mine, not yours.”

~Susan Wise Bauer, The History of the Ancient World, 43.

The smell of heaven

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things–the beauty, the memory of our own past–are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

~C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Christmas without the clutter

“Boxing Day is only two and a half weeks ahead; then perhaps we shall have a little quiet in which to remember the birth of Christ.”

~C. S. Lewis from the essay Delinquents in the Snow

Because it sells Carl, besides it’s what the “hip” do.

Carl Trueman has read my mind on more than one occasion:

Why, for example, do we only ever have Christian conferences on things such as the performing arts, or politics, or literature, or movies?  Why never on toilet cleaning, factory floor sweeping, or production line manufacturing?   Is it because God is not sovereign over these things?  Or is it because the whole Christianity and culture thing has been essentially hijacked and subsequently defined by the chatterati of the intelligentsia?  Is Shakespeare intrinsically more susceptible to being approached from a Christian perspective than working in a call centre?

Read the whole thing here

Glenn Beck and your preaching

How is your preaching different from what your congregation hears on cable news? Do you think they notice a difference at all? While many preachers are rightly placing an emphasis on preaching Christ others seem to be asking “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” (Luke 22:49).

Here is an encouraging note from a church member to her pastors. The moral of the story is preach the Word!

This is not a sports blog…

…but this was too good to pass up. In the latest issue of National Review, Richard Brookhiser refers to a World Cup soccer game as “ninety minutes of something almost but never happening.”

Starbucks Community Church

If you are retooling your church to fit the Starbucks model, try reading Ephesians instead. Surely we can do better than faux community and the illusion of social superiority.

See “On Loving Your Coffee and Your Neighbor” here.

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