.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Reason #4 (Ready for Reformation?)

I am giving ten reasons why every Southern Baptist (especially pastors and denominational leaders) should read Dr. Nettles' Book Ready for Reformation?: Bringing Authentic Reform to Southern Baptist Churches. At the conclusion of these ten reasons will be a brief review/critique of the book. "Unbelievers who need the challenge of truth and believers who are hungry for meat are given cream-filled sponge cake. Minds and hearts undernourished and in need of the meat starve while scratching the sermon for some food. Needing an engaged exposition that sustains a critical inquiry into the text throughout the sermon while setting the text in framework of biblical theology, they hear a repetition of four or five ideas without any connection with the text" (34) One understanding of having been made in the image of God is that we are rational beings. God has given us the ability to understand revelation cognitively and respond in a coherent, articulated language. Looking back in church history, one can find some of the greatest moments in Christianity have been when Christians transformed the world in thought and deed. The sermons engaged the mind and fired the heart, and the truths which were proclaimed resonated in the streets in which they were spoken. What we have today in a sermon is a conglomeration of feel-good false positivism and empty platitudes to a therapeutic-driven listener. Even among some of the most conservative churches, pastors have been found to line their sermons with "Twelve Steps" or "8 Principles" or "5 How To's" -- all of which rarely have anything to do with the text. Where we use to emphasize truth understood and appraised by the Holy Spirit, we have pop-psychologizing undergirded by the felt needs of man. Sermons aim for the symptom but fail to reach the problem. People are given a spiritual band-aid as though their problem was a superficial one; instead, what they need is a physician who can diagnose the problem rightly and explain to them that they need surgery. We do not have time for peripheral messages. Sin is too serious and life is too short to have pulpits littered with half-truths mixed with worldly principles. Preachers often overemphasize application and overlook illumination and interpretation. Therefore, people are getting techniques without truth, help without the Holy Spirit, and principles without power. When the band-aids fall off, reapplication won't suffice if the prescription doesn't correspond to the true sickness therein. Sermons today have great illustrations to target the emotional side of man, therapeutics to target the psychological side of man, and techniques for the motivational side of man, but there is no truth to target the spiritual side of man. "Every minister must avoid the temptation to substitute cleverness for faithfulness. Though no scientific survey could measure the tendency, one receives the distinct impression from hearing large numbers of sermons from a variety of pulpiteers who have the ears of large numbers of congregants and media listeners that the urge of novelty and uniqueness often overwhelm them. Outline and alliteration frequently determine content more than text. Anecdote and speculative observation steer doctrine and application away from truth and into an alley obscured with the uncertainties of the preacher's personal insight. Forgetting that it is required of a steward that he be found faithful, the preacher's style or personal charisma gradually press their way to the forefront" (35-36). The fourth reason why you should read Ready for Reformation? can be found in Dr. Nettles' corrective to this plague in our pulpits. He reminds us of the priority and power of truth in proclamation, and simply because most Southern Baptist churches believe in inerrancy, this does not mean that you will find many Bible-driven sermons today. Furthermore, Nettles provides a couple of helpful excerpts from Broadus and Spurgeon on the proper usage of illustrations. As he poignantly states, the "undiluted and dynamic consistency and sympathy for revealed truth with the powerful and immediate operations of the divine Spirit" is the only medium in which the minister should traffic. Our utter dependency is on the efficacious operations of the Holy Spirit to regenerate and unbeliever and illuminate the truth. No matter how debonair or urbane a preacher might be, his success does not lie in the volume of his voice or the power of his persuasion but rather the sovereign work of the Spirit who applies biblical truth to the sinner and the saint. That is why Nettles' says, "The real effects of Christ's humiliation and exaltation, unfolded into the conscience by powerful and faithful biblical exposition, will bare the soul before God and empty the world of its false and destructive charm" (32). May these effects been seen in the reformation to come! Trackback: Reason #3 (Ready for Reformation) Reason #2 (Ready for Reformation) Reason #1 (Ready for Reformation) My Response to Ready for Reformation Ready for Reformation???


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Site Counters as of May 4, 2005