Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Potency and Impotency of Preaching

One of the ways that God has sustained, nurtured, encouraged, convicted, and strengthened his people since the closing of the Canon is through the preaching of the word. It is the preaching of the word that Paul exhorts Timothy to remain steadfast in regardless of the apparent fruitfulness of the task (2 Tim 4), it is through the preached word that God brings the "other sheep" into the fold (Romans 10), it is through the preaching of the word that the content of the gospel message is made known and pressed upon people's consciences. Thus, it is clear that one of the most potent tools that God has provided to the church is the preaching of the word. Nevertheless, preaching alone is impotent to provide all that God has for the nurture of His people.

In many conservative Christian circles the preaching of the word is highlighted as the main way in which God is at work amongst His people. In light of this dogmatism, there are many churches who have moved away entirely from any kind of "preaching" of the word and focused on the more life-on-life type of Christianity that the New Testament commands (1 Cor 14:26, Heb. 3, etc..). For many conservative Christians this has become the definition of apostasy. However, could it not be that this expression of Christianity that removes a formal "preaching" of the word is just as harmful to the people of God as a type of Christianity that removes the real life-on-life Christianity. We must be both-and Christians who not only obey the command to have the word preached in our midst, but who also take seriously the more communal aspects of Christianity. In other words, a Christianity that so highlights the preaching of the word to the exclusion of the other massively important biblical commands for community life is in great danger of becoming a man-centered Christianity that offers a truncated view of what "ministry" is. It becomes man-centered because the only gift that is given expression is that of the "preacher" (i.e. the religious professional) and it is truncated in that it minimizes the importance of the other God honoring gifts that the Spirit supplies to God's people. All of which are for the edification of the body of Christ.


John C. Majors said...

well said my friend.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Harold. I will definitely be regurgitating some of this in future conversations with people. Well said.