Thursday, April 19, 2007

Between Two Worlds (ch. 2)

Chapter 2 – Contemporary Objections to Preaching

Stott lists the 3 primary objections to preaching in today’s world…the anti-authority mood, TV, and a contemporary atmosphere of doubt
  • The Anti-Authority Mood
    • Thesis of this point is that we live in a time with an unprecedented level of questioning the authorities that be. I agree with this. Stott offers a Christian response to the anti authority mood. Here are a few…
      • We need to remember the nature of humanity. We have always been in rebellion. That does not mean preaching is useless.
      • We need to remember the doctrine of revelation. He writes quoting another author, “A sermon by its very nature is a revelation, not an exhortation.” I could not disagree more. I think the Scriptures are the complete revelation of God, and our sermons are based on the revelation of God but are not themselves revelation. The purpose of a sermon is life change, exhortation.
      • We need to remember the locus of authority. Preachers themselves are not the authority…the Word of God is.
      • We need to remember the dialogical character of preaching. Preaching should be a silent dialogue between the preacher and congregation. As the sermon raises questions in the mind of the congregation the preacher should know his audience well enough to be aware of those questions ahead of time and attempt to answer them.
  • TV’s ill affects on listening to sermons. Two of his main points about TV and its affect on preaching…
    • TV tends to make people intellectually uncritical. This is the critical point…the inability to engage by thinking. I think this is so true. TV is too easy to consume. You only need the intelligence of a lump of mashed potatoes. On the other hand, it takes hard work to dive into the Scriptures. Speaking about the preacher’s need to reckon with their audience, Stott writes, “We can no longer assume that people either want to listen to sermons, or are indeed able to listen.” Wow.
    • TV tends to make people morally disordered. Stott writes, “…our understanding of what is ‘normal’ begins to be modified. Under the impression that ‘everybody does it’, and that nobody nowadays believes much in God or in absolutes of truth and goodness, our defenses are lowered and our values imperceptibly altered.”
  • Contemporary atmosphere of doubt
    • Stott writes, “The contemporary loss of confidence in the gospel is the most basic of all hindrances to preaching.”
    • He compares the current situation to the apostle Paul’s statement about the gospel in Romans 1:14-16 (under obligation, eager, not ashamed) by writing, “At present the church’s attitude to evangelism might be summarized in exactly contrary terms: ‘no enthusiasm, little sense of obligation, and considerable embarrassment.’”
    • Stott offers a handful of solutions. His first is that we need to distinguish between the terms assurance, conviction, presumption and bigotry. I think this is critical b/c it is a good and right thing to speak up when you have done your research and are indeed speaking the truth (assurance and conviction). That being opposed to presumption (speaking w/o truly researching or knowing) and bigotry (blind and obstinate opinions).


keith said...

I think it funny that he refers to preaching as having a "dialogical character." When only one person speaks, it's called a monologue. It's more than a stretch to call it a dialogue by saying, in effect, the preacher must be a mind reader. Telepathy is not a spiritual gift. Whatever happened to this?

Mark said...

I think that's why he called it "dialogical character" and not "dialogue." A sermon is definitely a monologue, but it's a monologue that is trying to interact with its' listeners' thoughts.

I think the idea is that the preacher needs to think ahead of time about how the congregation will react to what is being said. I was also taught this in seminary.

I try to do this every week as I prepare sermons b/c there's gonna be some things I say that people either won't believe, or will believe but think is unimportant, or will believe but fail to act on, etc. I need to be ready for those things.

Geoff Baggett said...

I knocked the TV problem out of contention ... I just use a "TV" (i.e. screen) in my preaching. :)