PREACHING: Why Johnny Can’t (2nd post)

As stated in the previous post, “I believe Gordon places too much hope in being literarily astute, rather than in the literal Gospel.” 

To begin, Mike Horton and T. David Gordon (WHI program: Why Johnny Can’t Preach) discuss how the ‘medium is the message.’  How the medium (media) does things both ‘for’ and ‘to’ us.  Ok; so far so good. 

The concern is how Gordon sees literature (not just the Bible, but also all high-end literature) shaping a minister of the Gospel.  He alleges that reading and studying literature (poetry, classic works, etc) are a key tool in creating the abilities to “preach the Gospel” in a way that is best.  The reason why we have so many poor sounding preachers (perhaps upwards of 75%), so David says, is due to their not having been trained in things like classic literature.  (Wow, sounds a lot like Doug Wilson and company with their Trivium.)  These poor preachers are people who could not write their way out of a wet paper bag.

Gordon’s literary prowess is to be respected and all, but I have a real hard time imagining that the chief problem we face in the pulpit has to do with not enough literary studies.  I fear that he is engaged here in that same search many others are on…for those days gone by, with an eye toward an era that “took things more seriously”, especially literature.  Granted, we can be ignoramuses about the World (classic literature, poetry, etc), but I honestly do not believe that this has too awful much to do with why the Word (all Scripture in the Light of the Gospel) is not soundly preached.  Gordon is barking up the wrong tree.

Now, I am with Gordon in regards to the majority of preaching being terrible.  However, for Gordon the problem is the style of delivery; whereas, it would seem to the content that is of concern.  Give me a common country-bumpkin pastor who knows and loves Christ (like Peter, James, and John), preaching Him from all the Text, and I would say we have something.  I have listened (as I am sure you have too) to enough “finely educated” people in my life to know that this does not necessitate one’s getting and keeping the Cross of Christ dead-center. 

The problem does not happen to be an uneducated clergy in regards to the World, but that men are not being schooled in the Word of Christ.  They come to believe, somehow, that the Bible has something other than Christ and Him crucified at its core and that the church needs to hear about “something other”.  Men simply do not believe that the Gospel (God revealed in humiliation) itself is sufficient to shape the messenger, message, and hearers into conformity to Christ’s image.  Rather, we get all in a tizzy because things are not happening fast enough.  This is not a new problem due to our failing to be literarily solid.  No, it is an age-old problem… this Age Old problem. God’s work of redemption in Christ alone is sufficient and simple enough to affect whatever God would create by this Word of Christ.  Unbelief is the problem, and yes, we all struggle with it!  Get used to it.  Do not try to get around it by circumventing the Gospel.

This bring us then… to the Gospel, as God’s exclusive tool in revealing Himself and creating a people for His name’s sake?  So yes, as Gordon points out, media “tools” work both for and upon us; yet, God’s tool is Christ crucified and risen being projected by words into the ears of the hearers.  This is God’s means whereby men (sinners) are being drawn unto Him.

Stay tuned…….


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