Who’s Doing the Talking in Our Church Gatherings?
- Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Aren't we all irritated when we're constantly interrupted by people who're supposed to be listening to us? How much more inappropriate that we should interrupt God when He speaks from the word. Can you imagine Moses, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul or Stephen preaching in such a way as to invite the people's commentary on the word of God, as though the people may fairly negotiate "what the Scripture means to them"?
I'm afraid that my reviewer's objections betray a low theology of preaching. He characterizes it as a man droning on in monologue as the audience is made passive. But the classic Protestant view of preaching understands preaching as something else entirely. As Augustine put it: "Where the Bible speaks, God speaks." Bryan Chapell puts it in a very compelling statement: "When we speak the truths of the word of God, we are not only speaking about Jesus, nor are we simply speaking for Jesus. We speak as Jesus." As the Reformers put it, "The preaching of the Word of God is the word of God" where it's done faithfully. And lest we think these statements claim to much, we should consider the testimony of the Scripture itself. The Thessalonians "received the word of God" and "accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God" (1 Thes. 2:13).
This, of course, is why preaching is inherently authoritative. The authority of preaching derives from the reality that God speaks through faithful preaching of His Word.
Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Cayman Islands. Pastor Thabiti is the author of What is a Healthy Church Member?, The Decline of African-American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity, and The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Preachers. He also blogs regularly at Pure Church.
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