There is a quiet buzzing that is beginning to rise from the grassroots among Pentecostal preachers. Increasingly I am hearing a faint drum beating that is somewhat like music to my ears. I am listening to remarks about Pentecostal preaching and its need of reformation at all levels; local, district, and national. Our preaching has somewhat degenerated into cheerleading sessions that tout the accomplishments of the preacher or a local church or parachurch organization. Our preaching has deteriorated into messages that take grand liberties with the text that the preacher may have read and wrested it from its true biblical context. When we take liberties with the biblical text and take it out of context, we have basically said that what we have to say is more important than what God has to say by His Word. It is my belief that out of context preaching is a very shrewd form of idolatry. Furthermore, our preaching has disintegrated into the very popular health, wealth, and prosperity messages of our times that believes that God is going to put a chicken in every pot. Our preaching has become filled with one-liners and sound bites that show the wit and cleverness of the preacher instead of the great majesty of the Word of God. Our preaching has gotten so bogged down in the topical approach that those preachers rarely turn over any new stones in their preaching, they simply are just rearranging material they have already learned in the distant past. Some of our preaching has gotten to the place where that the preacher has become the showcase event instead of the God and His Word. My brothers. . . these things ought not be so!
There is something that takes place when you began to move beyond that middle point of life. You tend to look back in retrospect at time and opportunity that was squandered. You look forward with much more concern about the great values and virtues of a spiritual life than what was in those early years of youthful inexperience. Age uniquely brings a sobriety, a seriousness, a focus, and at times even a sense of grimness to the mind. This is especially true for a Christian pastor, or in my thoughts, it should be. One of those areas of my own personal calling and ministry that I am looking back to are the countless times that I said, “I am an assistant pastor, preacher, minister not a theologian.” Increasingly as my preaching style has drastically changed from my earlier years from topical preaching to much more expository preaching, I have been greatly convicted by the Spirit of God and my interaction with the Word of God that pastors need to be theologians. For a pastor to say that he is not a theologian is certainly not a crime or sin of disqualification from ministry but it does say much about where he has spent his time. We would never expect a physician to say, “I am a doctor but I don’t know anything about medicine.” We would not take our cars to a mechanic who said, “I am a mechanic but I don’t know anything about how a car motor works.” Perhaps that is an oversimplification but I do think that a pastor who has some tenure cannot afford to say that he is not a theologian, that he does not know God.
One of the genres of books that I enjoy as a preacher is the group that deals with act and art of preaching itself. If you have read this blog for any length of time, you have discovered that I have recommended a lion’s share of books about preaching—most have been to do with expository preaching. It is good for preachers to continue to read books that will sharpen their skills as a preacher. Because I believe that preaching—both the delivery by the preacher and the listening by the hearer—is an act of worship, I believe a preacher should do everything within his power to get better at preaching. One of the ways that we can get better is to read books about preaching. Continue reading “Book Recommendation—A Guide to Expository Ministry—Dan Dumas”
This past March (2016), a good friend of mine recommended a book to me, Out of the Flames, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. Not only is this book one of the best books I have read this year, it probably will fall into the category of one of the greatest books that I have read in my lifetime. The subject matter of the book is “the remarkable story of a fearless scholar, a fatal heresy, and one of the rarest books in the world.” It is the story about Michael Servetus who was one of the most brilliant men that has ever lived. Not only was Servetus a theologian, he was also a scientist and was one of the first to discover the pulmonary circulation of the blood through the lungs but he also wrote a book that cost him his life.
One of the reasons that I believe this book is so important is not only for the content of the book but also who wrote it. It is written by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, a husband and wife team, who are not theologians. This is important because of the subject matter they write about concerning Michael Servetus and his battle with one of the most sadistic souls who has ever lived, John Calvin. The Goldstones are primarily book collectors and write about antiquarian books which are books that are very rare and usually very old. One of the book’s descriptions states that the Goldstones are interested in the “enduring legacy of books.” Because they are not theologians or church historians they have a tendency to write their book about Servetus without the normal bias that comes against Servetus by so many of the church historians, theologians, and religious philosophers who do undertake the task of writing about the conflict between Servetus and Calvin. In fact, I have read before various accounts by authors who generally come from a Reformed bent and it appears to me that before they ever get their thoughts off the ground, Servetus is under a severe thrashing. Continue reading “Book Recommendation – Out of the Flames by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone”
I have just recently come home from the UPCI General Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. A couple of the Thursday … Continue reading What Is Good Preaching?
It seems like forever ago that I spent a month blogging about some of the Puritans. Back in March 2012, I wrote a series of articles on Puritan preaching along with a brief sketch of some of the Puritan preachers. Those men were Jeremiah Burroughs, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Shepherd, and Thomas Watson. During the last five years, I have continually drawn from the writings of these men and their works have often been as refreshing to me as an artesian well that watered my soul. Their commitment to personal holiness, private prayer, and passionate but deep preaching has certainly been a motivation for me. With that in mind, I have determined to spend another month with the Puritans in hopes that those who read this will make a decision to explore some of the lives and works of these men.