Sunday, June 29, 2008

"The dangers of valuing preaching"

Matthias Media has a magazine called The Briefing which I'm not sure how I got signed up for (Mark?) which had an interesting article this week called "The dangers of valuing preaching" which deserves some comment.

The article is badly titled because it should be "the dangers of our particular brand of 'expository preaching' " (but of course that doesn't have the punch their does). I would like the post a couple quotes however to illustrate his point:

1. A shift from content to form: "First, there is the danger of the focus moving gradually from the content onto the form of preaching itself...We work hard on our preaching, and we seek to develop the craft of giving better sermons for our people...the danger is that because we are still sinful people, we are constantly caught in a drift that seeks to reorient our focuse away from the divine and onto the human."

2. A shift from vertical to horizontal: "It is the shift from the vertical to the merely horizontal in terms of our understanding of what is actually happening as we open up the Scriptures. Too easily we begin to think of Bible 'teaching' and 'learning' as merely mutual edification along the horizontal axis. We forget the vertical axis. We forget the presence of the living God himself, whose word is not just being heard as if from a distance, but who is present by his Spirit and who is breathing out his living word as the Scriptures are opened today."

3. A shift from the corporate to the individual: "In essence, of course, this is just another expression of the general shift from a God-centered, Kingdom-oriented mentality to the man-centered, self preoccupation that is the hallmark of our natural condition, and to which we constantly naturally regress if left unchecked by the correction of God's word."

Of course it is difficult to evaluate this article just based on the snippets I have included, but he brings up a topic I have thought on recently. Does the traditional craft of our preaching lend itself to a semi-pelagian view of sanctification? We are told to examine the text and get our points from the text and then corner the listener into making a decision for change. We are told to garner proper 'applications' from the text to give the listener something tangible to grasp, or to do. The problem with this seems to be that we forget that the Bible is primarily a revelation of God about himself and about ourselves and our relationship with him. The Bible is first a communique concerning the gospel. Shouldn't our preaching instead be 'vertical' as Philip states it, that is the purpose of preaching is to exalt Christ and his work not our own efforts?

I think one of the issues Philips sees is that expository preaching has tended to focus strongly on what we should do rather than why or how. Are not the why/how questions answered by inner spiritual change which are wrought by the hearing of the word and the response of faith? Should we neglect the exaltation of God by preaching the gospel to preach a list of do's and dont's? God forbid.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Impatient People are Weak

ht: Andy Naselli

An excerpt from Piper's Future Grace on impatience:
The apostle Paul prayed for the church at Colossae, that they would be “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience” (Colossians 1:11). Patience is the evidence of an inner strength. Impatient people are weak, and therefore dependent on external supports—like schedules that go just right and circumstances that support their fragile hearts. Their outbursts of oaths and threats and harsh criticisms of the culprits who crossed their plans do not sound weak. But that noise is all a camouflage of weakness. Patience demands tremendous inner strength.

For the Christian, this strength comes from God. . . . [T]hat connection is faith.

Specifically the glorious might of God that we need to see and trust is the power of God to turn all our detours and obstacles into glorious outcomes. If we believed that our hold-up at the long red light was God’s keeping us back from an accident about to happen, we would be patient and happy. If we believed that our broken leg was God’s way of revealing early cancer in the x-ray so that we would survive, we would not murmur at the inconvenience. If we believed that the middle-of-the-night phone call was God’s way of waking us to smell smoke in the basement, we would not grumble at the loss of sleep. The key to patience is faith in the future grace of God’s “glorious might” to transform all our interruptions into rewards.

In other words, the strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours. This requires great faith in future grace, because the evidence is seldom evident.

Piper, pp. 173–74

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Theology of Technology

A coworker recently handed me a printout of this article, read at ETS in 2001 by Lawrence Terlizzese of DTS. Terlizzese calls for an interest in an evangelical theology of technology.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mark Dever and WhiteBoard by Michael Mckinley

"For the record, I think Mark Dever's theological differences with the other speakers at WiBo were abundantly clear" Michael Mckinley

Monday, June 09, 2008

Culture and Theology

I recently sat down with the production manager for DTS's media production department and DTS's Professor of Philosophy to talk about issues related to culture, theology, and ministry for a class assignment. We had a good forty minute talk that we recorded as if it were one in a series of podcasts. Have a listen here:

God in a Pod: Culture and Theology

It was a good conversation, and has led to numerous discussions with others. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hyper-egalitarianism and Seminary

iThe White Horse Inn recently talked about the concept of Hyper-egalitarianism. The concept sparked a thought in me concerning a often asked question I get with regard to the value of seminary.

It seems one of the strongest implications of post-modernism is that all views have equal validity. To disparage someone's view on a particular matter is extremely rude and even immoral. There are no experts. Everyone has as much authority as everyone else. Cue the blogs and forums. On a personal level this has been discouraging for me. What this idea has meant for me is that when I read something and try to understand it, if after hours, days, or weeks of seeking understanding, if I don't yet get it then I despair. I've grown up in a society where knowledge rises and falls on me. For me, to not have an answer is to deny the existence of that answer. Yet, it may be that I just haven't studied hard enough. It may be that I need an expert, perhaps a seminary graduate?

Any thoughts?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Trueman on Barth

Anyone know what he means here?
And I have yet to see Barthian preaching fill a church (there is an irony that Barthian preaching, with its `dynamic' God is so often bland, while the `static' God of fundamentalism (according to the Barthian critique) has generated some of the most dynamic preaching the world has ever seen).

I think I can guess what he means by 'dynamic' God, but if you can elaborate let me know.

From Carl Trueman, What can be learned from Barth?

20 Reasons Piper Doesn't Take Potshots at Fundamentalists

Link: Piper
1. They are humble and respectful and courteous and even funny (the ones I've met).

2. They believe in truth.

3. They believe that truth really matters.

4. They believe that the Bible is true, all of it.

5. They know that the Bible calls for some kind of separation from the world.

6. They have backbone and are not prone to compromise principle.

7. They put obedience to Jesus above the approval of man (even though they fall short, like others).

8. They believe in hell and are loving enough to warn people about it.

9. They believe in heaven and sing about how good it will be to go there.

10. Their "social action" is helping the person next door (like Jesus), which doesn't usually get written up in the newspaper.

11. They tend to raise law-abiding, chaste children, in spite of the fact that Barna says evangelical kids in general don't have any better track record than non-Christians.

12. They resist trendiness.

13. They don’t think too much is gained by sounding hip.

14. They may not be hip, but they don’t go so far as to drive buggies or insist on typewriters.

15. They still sing hymns.

16. They are not breathless about being accepted in the scholarly guild.

17. They give some contemporary plausibility to New Testament claim that the church is the “pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

18. They are good for the rest of evangelicals because of all this.

19. My dad was one.

20. Everybody to my left thinks I am one. And there are a lot of people to my left.