PREACHING: Why Johnny Can’t (3rd post)

Again, we are dealing here with the discussion between Mike Horton and T. David Gordon (WHI program: Why Johnny Can’t Preach) on how the ‘medium is the message.’

Gordon explains that the “sermonic portrait” delivered well, makes all the difference.  He understands that the messenger is to be shaped by the medium of high-end literary works in order for the message to penetrate the hearers.  It is almost as if he is failing to account for the working of the Holy Spirit, not by carnal weapons, but by the Gospel itself. I understand it is not likely that he forgets this entirely, but only that he is caught up in something that is a life-occupation for him. 

As I have said in the previous posts, the Gospel shapes the messenger, the message, and the hearer(s).  No doubt, Gordon believes this, unfortunately though, this does not come across loud and clear, but is muffled by the cry for a more literarily astute clergy. 

Gordon also reminds us (and rightly so) that ours is not a WORD-shaped culture but an IMAGE-driven culture (TV, DVD’s, etc).  Here again, as an academician he wants to bring the full weight of top-notch literature to bear.  Granted, a televised people can tend to be a trivial lot.  Mush for minds is not a good thing.  What is needed though is not well-read people filling the ranks (and pulpit), but a believing people.  Is not Christ’s person and work, simply preached, sufficient to create and sustain believers?  Do not the people of God need a continual refreshing and gradual deepening in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as He is revealed in all of Scripture? 

Word-shaped?  Yes!  Nevertheless, it is content, not style, that is our foremost concern.  Where there is genuine content (Gospel-concentrated content), we have reason to hope for preachers (and laypersons alike) to present in plain speech the glories of Christ, for all to hear.  Yes, we might end up with people who are not so full of themselves as to present their style as Gospel.  Heaven knows, there is plenty of that to go around.

Next, Gordon utilizes this supposed biblical notion of the “folly of preaching”.  What?  Where does Paul ever speak like this?  I know, I know…in the First Letter to the Corinthians, right?  Wrong.  Look again at the text (1Cor.1.17-24; & 2.14)!  Let us deal with this text next time.

Stay tuned…

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2 responses to “PREACHING: Why Johnny Can’t (3rd post)

  1. 1Cor.1:21, “…της μωριας του κηρυγματος …”

    The former noun has been translated both “folly” and “foolishness”.
    The latter–is it the “content” i.e. “what is preached,” or is it the “method” i.e. “preaching”? We find one and the other in our translations.

    In v17, eloquence is put down; in v20, the debater.

    In vv22-23, contrast “signs” or “wisdom” with “preaching”.

    The content we preach (he goes on to say) is “Christ, crucified,” but it does seem to me that the method is just as much “on trial” before the world as the content itself.

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