procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

teaching ≠ preaching (?)

got some good sermon feedback this week; i have never more acutely felt the tug between on the one hand explaining the text so people understand what they're reading, and on the other applying God's wisdom to people's lives, in a way assuming they trust my background work (not really showing my working out in other words).
it is then with great interest i read this discussion following justin's post.

i firmly believe that one of the things we do as preachers is teach people how to read and understand their bibles for themselves, to demystify, to give understanding. that's what Ezra did in Nehemiah 8:8,
They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
to do less would be to do injustice to our calling as ministers of the word and prayer.

however i did think this from the discussion was interesting:
According to Cranmer's introduction to his book of Homilies, "the word should at all convenient times be preached unto the people, that thereby they may both learn their duty towards God, their Prince, and their neighbors, according to the mind of the holy Ghost, expressed in the Scriptures."
the commenter elaborated, that Interseting [sic] that for Cranmer the end point of the sermon was the life lived in light of scripture and not scripture in and of itself.

perhaps it is the polemical nature of preaching - when we see so many examples of seeing preachers not opening their bibles at all, or when they have them with them, there is so little reference as to be more a folder to hold their "sermon" notes in. if i want to be not so much a teacher but more a preacher, how do i navigate this middle ground?

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Blogger Hayley said...

Is it a lecturer?
Is it a product your selling?
Is it a life-coaching presentation?
Is it a comedy routine?

No, its a sermon!!!

(my lame joke for the day)

Keep on heralding the good news of our King!

8:52 am  
Blogger byron smith said...

Do you think every sermon is meant to be a running commentary/translation of a passage like in Nehemiah?

(NB Justin MoffattMoffitt the Prophet - just in case anyone was confused.)

2:41 pm  
Blogger byron smith said...

Just thinking about Nehemiah, notice what the priests don't do: teach the people Hebrew so they can read the Scriptures for themselves. The aim isn't to make them independent interpreters of the text; it's to give understanding (so that their lives will be changed).

2:45 pm  
Blogger psychodougie said...

thanks for that. amended post.
you must admit, it's a little too confusing having two justin m's in the theoblogosphere.

i find it really hard to explain without giving appropriate background. in a culture where your listeners don't necessarily comprehend the background as we may wish, exegeting seems to be a necessary part of the preaching.

i notice however at bible skool the sermons have a higher estimation of background knowledge; contra what i assumed before i came here. they (some) spend very little time working through the text, much more on the implications.

i don't feel this is a freedom i have preaching to congregations of very mixed biblical literacy.

6:04 pm  
Blogger Justin said...

No confusion from my part. I am neither a prophet, nor a Prophets son.

I don't think that we need to teach Hebrew. But we ought not to speak in a way that robs people of their own confidence to read and gain insights on their own...

7:34 am  
Blogger psychodougie said...

come to think of it, they could probably already speak hebrew, so that's neither an argument for nor against (not that i'm advocating the sermon being a biblical language class, but if i were, that wouldn't cut it as an argument against)

thanks for the comment Justin, i think that's my main worry about not explaining the text - robbing people of any confidence they may have to read and understand the bible for themselves. i think about the allegorising history of christianity, and those really into numerology (eg isaac newton), with sadness, as i fail to understand how you could walk away with any confidence in the perspicuity of scripture

10:16 am  

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