“Indeed, I will go so far as to assert that if you are at peace with the world, you have abdicated your calling. You have become a court preacher to some earthly power, no matter how innocuous it might appear. To put it simply, you have been bought! If there is no controversy in your ministry, there is probably very little content to your preaching.” (p.147)
I’m just finishing Albert Mohler’s book, He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World. Wow, what an encouragement. This is a book I would recommend to those who preach or teach the Word. Mohler is the conservative President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s premier school, Southern Seminary, in Louisville, KY.
Though I wish Mohler and others like him would take additional steps toward Biblical fundamentalism, He has stated in this book the essence of what biblical preaching ought to be.
This book is not at all primer on preaching but an exhortation to tenaciously embrace the Biblical mandate to preach. I’ll let some excerpts from the book speak.
Mohler starts out discussing worship and states that worship is centered on preaching.
My concern is that the issue of worship will define not only our church services but also our theology and our beliefs about God. There is no more important issue for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ than that we worship God as He Himself would have us to worship. (p.23)
…the prevailing model of worship in evangelical churches is increasingly defined by music, along with innovations such as drama and video presentations. Preaching has in large part retreated, and a host of entertaining innovations have taken its place. (p.24)
Any consideration of Christian preaching must begin with the realization that preaching is essentially an act of worship. (p.24)
It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with him. (p.25)
I am haunted by the thought that in the average evangelical church, the God of the Bible would never be known by watching us worship. Instead, what we have in so many churches is “McWorship” of a “Mc Deity”….Would an observer have any idea of the God of the Bible from our worship? I wonder at times if this is an accidental development, or if it is an intentional evasion. (p.31)
One recent writer on worship has commented, “It is not how your worship. It’s who you worship.” I would argue that the who determines the how. (p35)
…most outside observers would probably guess that it is music that stands at the center of our worship. (p.36)
But even Martin Luther, who wrote hymns and required his preachers to be trained in song, would not recognize this modern preoccupation with music as legitimate or healthy. Why? Because the Reformers were convinced that the heart of true biblical worship was the preaching of the Word of God. (p.36)
He advocates expository preaching.
In fact, I believe that the only form of authentic Christian preaching is expository preaching. (p.49)
Rather, we should define exactly what we mean when we way “preach.” What we mean is, very simply, reading the text and explaining it – reproving, rebuking, exhorting, and patiently teaching directly from the text of Scripture. If you are not doing that, then you are not preaching.
But if you call yourself a preacher of God’s Word, and you think that all of God’s speaking was in the past, then resign. I say that with deadly seriousness. If you do not believe that God now speaks from His Word – the Bible – then what are you doing every Sunday morning? (p.57)
Chapter four continues the focus on expository preaching.
Every text demands a fundamental realignment of our basic worldview and way of life. As the Word of God, the biblical text has the right to establish our identity as the people of God and to determine our worldview. (p.68)
Likewise, the preacher must demonstrate his own reverence for God’s Word by dealing truthfully and responsibly with the text. He must not be flippant or casual, much less dismissive or disrespectful. Of this we can be certain – no congregation will revere the Bible more than the preacher does. (p.73)
Chapter five on the preacher’s authority and purpose.
We preach Christ; we proclaim Him; we focus our message on Him. That is a simple thing to say, but doing it requires painstaking, systematic, rigorous expository preaching. Our task is to show how Christ, the mystery of the ages, is revealed throughout the whole of Scripture, in both the Old Testament and the New. (p.83)
In the second half of the book Mohler discusses the phenomenon of our culture called postmodernism. He calls it a mood and says that it is the most significant philosophical factor of the late twentieth century. He explains how the prevailing thinking patterns of our world are those which deny the possibility of absolute truth and how this affects our task as Christians and preachers. I found these chapters to be very helpful in that they simply and succinctly described our world.
Our claim is that the Bible is the Word of God for all – a claim that is deeply offensive to the postmodern worldview, which charges all who claim universal truth with imperialism and oppression. (p.119)
In chapter nine on the Urgency of Preaching Mohler states:
Every so often I hear someone remark, “You know, I am tired of all this preaching about sin and judgment and hell,” Frankly, I would like to know where these people are going to church, because I find that kind of biblical preaching far too rare. In all too many pulpits, God has become our next-door neighbor, our great cosmic companion, or the divine leader of our small group, rather than the holy God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (p.137)
In chapter ten, Preaching to Dry Bones he states:
Indeed, I will go so far as to assert that if you are at peace with the world, you have abdicated your calling. You have become a court preacher to some earthly power, no matter how innocuous it might appear. To put it simply, you have been bought! If there is no controversy in your ministry, there is probably very little content to your preaching. (p.147)
I’ll leave it with that.