On Preaching the Word

As someone who loves theology and biblical studies I’ve come to realize over time that it’s simply best to preach the word in a congregational context. What I mean is simply this: Preach the text and let all the theology flow from it. Don’t spend too much time speculating. Use the information gained from biblical studies to illuminate it but don’t make biblical studies the focus to the exclusion of what the text is saying.

I’ve learned that trying to turn Bible study (at least in the two churches I’ve been a member of) into miniature seminary lectures isn’t greatly effective. The glazed over eyes are usually the best indication that it’s not hitting home. And that’s okay. People who want seminary lectures should by all means attend seminary. The average believer that I’ve encountered just wants to know what the Bible says and find ways to apply it to life.

Your experience may very well be different. If it is I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and let me know.


10 thoughts on “On Preaching the Word

  1. “Use the information gained from biblical studies to illuminate it but don’t make biblical studies the focus to the exclusion of what the text is saying.”

    Exactly. I receive an equal amount of positive input from people who A) enjoyed learning the background so that they can understand their Bible and B) from people who found the direct message or application of the text to help them solve some problem they had because they didn’t know what God would want them to do in this/that circumstance.

    But when I was younger I was purely academic and, in my mind, super unhelpful.

  2. This is ultimately a call, of course, to preach the Bible as the Church’s Scripture. But as you surely realize this a risky and controversial plea, because don’t you know that True Scholars have transcended the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, pre-critical rubes who want that sort of thing? Of course, these same True Scholars who scoff at the very notion of the Church’s theological use of Scripture for doctrine and proclamation then invariably proceed to transgress the strict boundaries of the narrow areas of their expertise to comment on matters theological and ecclesiastical, as though their training in, e.g., Northwest Semitic inscriptions qualifies them to wax authoritative on, e.g., moral theology. As I have said elsewhere, I am nearing the point in my life where I feel compelled to bluntly remind historians to stick to history (or paleographers to paleography or whatever) and leave the Church’s Bible to the Church and her churchly theologians.

  3. Even N.T. Wright was being rather harsh with Christians who thought the earth was young a while back (was this months or years ago?). I was like, “Dude, you’re extra enlightened view on Paul that helps you understand justification doesn’t give you the right to think that you know geology better than not geologists and to judge them despite their justification!

    It was weird. He charged them with Gnosticism.

  4. But we love his books. What’s funny is that his New Testament and the people of God really changed how I preach/teach the Bible. I love learning from the guy, but his attitude is a bit beneath that of a bishop (I guess he’s a professor now).

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