Monday, August 19, 2013

Preaching that Doesn't Jeopardize the Gospel

D. A. Carson on preaching a crucified Christ:
And clearly [Paul] thinks the gospel is jeopardized by any kind of eloquence or rhetoric that does not reinforce the message of a crucified Messiah. Clever, witty, amusing, glittering discourse may be warmly applauded by the literati, but it does not easily square with the odium of the cross. Paul will have none of it.
He continues:
Neither would the early English Puritans. In an age when scholars often used the pulpit to display their great learning, the Puritans resolved to speak with simplicity and forcefulness calculated to do their hearers the most good.
Carson then provides a modern day illustration, and an important concluding question:
I understood this point most clearly, I think, when I heard of an Egyptian believer with extraordinary communication skills. Arabic is a language that operates on two levels. There is a sort of street Arabic—or, more precisely, there are several quite different street Arabics, depending on the region—and a "high" or "literary" Arabic. The latter may be found not only in good Arabic literature, but, in the hands of the skillful, it may be found in oral address. This particular Egyptian Christian was a journalist, widely read as much for the music of his prose as for the quality of his content. He felt called of God to Christian ministry, abandoned journalism, and soon built up a very large congregation. Many of those who attended his church did so simply because they greatly enjoyed listening to his orations. 
But this preacher was troubled. He discovered that many people were far more interested in his Arabic than his Savior. After much soul-searching, he switched to the more colloquial Arabic. His reasoning was quite simple: his purpose was to convey the message of the cross, and he had come to the conclusion that his rhetoric was getting in the way. That man, surely, understood Paul.  
What gets in our way?
The Cross and Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker:1993), 35-36.

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