When prayers become the equivalent of "Yo, how you doin'?!" then something has gone awry. Public prayers should lead people into the presence of God, and that should be a humbling, if not crushing experience. When was the last time a pulpit prayer left you in awe of the God who humbles himself so that you might worship him? What about sermons? How many of us sit in judgment on the sermon, grading it for quality, length, clarity, interest, as the minister brings to us the Word of God? If we have any grasp of God's holiness, and any inkling of the importance of the prophetic task of preaching, we won't be giving the minister a grade; rather, we will be sitting and listening to what he has to say, acutely conscious of our own unworthiness to hear God as he speaks to us. Then, when the songs we sing can be summarized by the phrase, "Jesus is my best boyfriend," we can be sure that something is seriously out of joint. The words we sing to God should reflect the gravity of the words of God first speaks to us. Then, when the church itself becomes a take-it-or-leave-it venture that we can turn up for a time that suits us, perhaps even sipping lattes from Starbucks as we take our seats, something is seriously missing. What is it? Well, the answer isn't rocket science: a sense of the deep holiness of God. The casual nature of the postmodern world, where all hierarchies are oppressive and the consumer is king, cannot even begin to understand the void that lies at the heart of such slapdash Christianity. Your doctrine can be as correct and confessional as possible; but if it is all just so much of a game, then it is no theology at all.
That passage is from Dr. Trueman's newest collection of essays entitled Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear To Tread (pp. 65-66). If you are familiar with Trueman's writing then the subtitle will make perfect sense: "Taking Aim At Everyone." One of the reasons I like reading Carl's essays is because he refuses to bow to the ever-changing standards of sentimental niceness. If you wear your feelings on your fingertips tread cautiously. But read none-the-less.
Trueman is a professor of church history and historical theology. But he is also a keen observer of the culture. So whether he is recalling a chance meeting with Joe Frazier, extolling the virtues of Mott The Hoople (don't ask), or skewering the latest banalities of contemporary evangelicalism you can count on plenty of theological reflection. He makes it look easy, but it ain't. So don't try this at home kids. Just pick up Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear To Tread and enjoy.
Incidentally, I rather like the cover illustration on this new book. But, and I will take this up with Carl personally, the illustrator gave him entirely too much hair.
You can check out some of Dr. Trueman's other titles HERE.
Dr. Trueman blogs regularly at Ref21.