Saturday, March 20, 2010

On Preaching That is Truly Christian...

"Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City and perhaps the most famous (or infamous) preacher of the twentieth century's early decades, once defined preaching like this: 'Preaching is personal counseling on a group basis.' Earlier evangelicals recognized Fosdick's approach as rejection of biblical preaching. An unabashed theological liberal, Fosdick paraded his rejection of biblical inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility--and rejected other doctrines central to the Christian faith. Enamored with trends in psycholocial theory, Fosdick became liberal Protestantism's happy pulpit therapist. The goal of his preaching was well captured by the title of one of his many books, On Being a Real Person.

"Shockingly, this approach is now evident in many evangelical pulpits. Urged on by devotees of 'needs-based preaching,' many evangelicals have abandoned the text without recognizing that they have done so. These preachers may eventually get to the text in teh course of the sermon, but the text does not set the agenda or establish the shape of the message. The sacred desk has become an advice center, and the pew has become the therapist's couch. Psychological and practical concerns have displaced theological exegesis, and the preacher directs his sermon to the congregation's perceived needs rather than to their need for a Savior...

"The preaching of the apostles always presented the kerygma--the heart of the gospel. The clear presentation of the gospel must be a part of the sermon, no matter the text. As Charles Spurgeon expressed this so eloquently, preach the Word, place it in its canonical context, and 'make a bee-line to the cross.'

"The approach of many preachers is to present helpful and practical messages, often generalized Christian content but without any clear presentation of the gospel or call to decision and accountibility to the text or to the claims of Christ. The apostles should be our model here, consistently preaching the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, in order for the gospel to make sense, authentic preaching must also deal honestly with the reality of human sin and must do so with a candor equal to that of the biblical text. All this presents the preacher with some significant challenges in our age of 'sensitivities.' But in the end, preaching devoid of this content--preaching that evades the biblical text and biblical truth--falls short of anything we can rightly call Christian preaching."

Al Mohler from He Is Not Silent

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