"I think it is a subtly self-centered or man-centered basis that leads us to despise exegetical preaching. If we believe the task is to 'read the times' and then apply an appropriate answer from the whole scope Scripture, we must believe that the fundamental need lies in a smart use of Scripture. We've assumed a role that's not ours; we've assumed we have something to offer, something to say. (And sometimes there might be good reason for that approach - in writing a book, in giving a specific seminar, teaching a class, or just in discussion with friends, etc.)
But if this approach is taken in the time slot traditionally assigned to 'preaching the Word' then we forfeit (at least one opportunity for) what we need most of all: to hear from God Himself. Do we trust in our own insight and resourceful citing of Scripture (almost as a tool to support our message)? Or do we believe, whatever our current situations might be, that what we need more than anything else is to see and treasure Christ? If we're trusting in Him - not in ourselves, at some level - then we'll want to hear His Word, to get on His 'agenda,' to absorb His perspective, even if to do that I am required to put my personal issues on the back-burner and trust that He cares for me.
I would not think that a strictly verse-by-verse approach is always necessarily called for. Of course, some consideration for the particular audience and thoughtful selection of the Word is required - essentially the same reasons that we have services in English instead of Latin or Greek or Hebrew. So, I definitely think that pastors must thoughtfully consider their congregation's particular need and should responsibly seek to bring the Word to them.
And I would be very comfortable giving Andy Stanley the benefit of the doubt - that he's doing just that. But underneath whatever particular approach we take there should be a fundamental trust in God's Word, not our own. Our mentality should be that people need to hear from God - and not necessarily on the topics they would choose - or that we would choose for them. In some respects, the very thing we need is to be removed from our own perspective, to be immersed in a Biblical perspective. Then, when we return to the everyday practical concerns, we'll see them more accurately. And we'll have a high view of Christ's glory, and if we embrace Him, we'll have what we essentially need in any setting.
Consider what Dietrich Bonhoeffer says about reading the Psalms: 'We also ought not to select Psalms at our own discretion, thinking that we know better what we ought to pray than does God himself. To do that is to dishonor the prayer-book of the Bible' (Psalms, p.26)."
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
More Thoughts on Exegetical Preaching
I thought Michael had some great things to say regarding Monday's post. Here is his comment: