God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Random Thought on Preaching - Preach the Gospel of Jesus

A random thought before diving into Romans.

Jessica and I visited a congregation near Nashville, Tennessee – which shall remain nameless. That particular Sunday was the preacher’s first there. Because of that he decided to start a series of lessons on the book of … Romans!

“A lesson on Romans! How wonderful!” I thought.

“Oh, great, Graham’s going to get more fodder for his Romans obsession,” my wife thought.

One of us turned out to be correct.

As a Romans-aholic, I know the basic idea of the letter. So I had my mental notes ready for him to use as he needed. Apparently he could not see them. His sermon consisted of 10 minutes of vague facts about the letter and then 15 minutes recounting how other major, historical theologians have misinterpreted the book. The three I remember were Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin. If I had never read the book of Romans before I would have left that sermon knowing more about how other people misunderstand the book than I would have understood what Paul wrote in the first place. To quote David Lipe, a retired professor from FHU, and James 3:10 (in the KJV), “These things ought not so to be!”

Got it?
Me, when you preach this way.

I understand the idea behind this type of preaching. You don’t want people coming away from the sermon with the wrong idea. You want to prevent people from going down the wrong interpretation path. When I knocked doors for a summer in the northeast USA I had this on the mind. I began almost all conversations by finding out where they went to church and start into the talking points against that particular denomination. Then I had a revelation:

If I am a Gospel preacher, I should probably preach the Gospel of Jesus not the how-others-have-gotten-it-wrong Gospel of Jesus.

This brings me to an important question for Christians, especially ones in the Restoration Movement:

At what point do we stop preaching against “false doctrine” and teach what we are trying to restore? 

If you were to ask 90% of members of almost any denomination (and the Churches of Christ as well) to give their views on a theological topic they would either look at you blankly, make up something that sounds correct or tell you to see their pastor/preacher. They don’t know the teachings of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, or any other famous theologian. They probably have never read the doctrinal statement of their church (have you read your church’s charter?).

Knocking doors I became frustrated that I had to teach several people what their church taught before I could tell them why it was wrong. Does that sound dumb or what? No wonder I had little to no success. I wouldn't want to go to a church whose first act was to tell me what was wrong with the group I consider myself part of.

Preachers, teach what Jesus taught, not what is wrong with everyone else’s teachings. Then we will all understand the Bible.