Thursday, February 03, 2005

Online Classic: “Freeing the American Pulpit”

A challenge for both bloggers and preachers is the tension between truth and popularity. I've read postings where bloggers express concerns about speaking their mind at the expense of losing readers. The same dynamic is at work with preachers, especially those on the payroll of the ones we preach to. As Lawrence E. Durr points out in "Freeing the American Pulpit," it's hard to proclaim the unvarnished Word of God when we're employees of the very people we're trying to convict of sin. Being popular and preaching the truth, Durr says, are not always compatible:

If the biblical truths were really being preached in all of their fullness, one of two things would result. Either we would see a grass-roots revolution throughout the whole country, or most preachers would be out of a job.

Biblical prophets weren't usually "successful," in terms of bringing large numbers of people to repentance, Durr notes, yet today we tend to consider the quality of preaching to be directly proportional to the number of bodies in the pews:

In the Bible, and in history since biblical times, it has been the usual thing for a prophet to be in trouble. Always, those who have dared to stand for the right have been martyred or persecuted. And yet, somehow we expect that the parish preacher can denounce sin and still be popular.

And, says Durr, preachers can't wait for the congregation to give us permission to start stepping on their toes--we must have the courage to proclaim the truth as God calls us to do:

The real solution for the church’s problems today must begin with the integrity of the pulpit. The preacher must be concerned with preaching the truth no matter how unpopular it may be.



Blogger John said...

This is an excellent post Milton, and so very true. A lot of preachers want to preach how to be successful in this world, but their idea of success differs from God’s. i.e.,

2 Pet 3:9-18 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation-- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

God Bless you and yours,

2:47 PM, February 03, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, John. I always appreciate your comments and encouragement.

10:30 PM, February 03, 2005  

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