Friday, December 11, 2009

Defective preaching

Here is an extract from a letter on the ministry of the Gospel written by the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist preacher John Elias. The letter is dated 16th January 1840:
There is a great defect in the manner of many preachers. It can scarcely be said that the Gospel is preached by them. Their sermons are very confused; they contain many expressions which are not taught by the Holy Ghost; and subjects are so clothed with new words, that it is difficult to know what is meant.

Thought these preachers may not be accused of saying wht is false, yet, alas, they neglect stating weighty and necessary truths when opportunities offer. By omitting those important portions of truth in their natural connection, the Word is made subservient to subjects never intended.

The hearers are led to deny the truth that the preacher leaves out of his sermons. Omitting any truth intentionally in a sermon leads to the denial of it. Indeed, there are several deficiencies in many ministers; some acknowledge and lament them. There is room to suspect that those defects are intentional in others.
What do you think? Was Elias' assessment in the last paragraph right?


Phil Walker said...

To an extent, that has to be right. If a minister neglects or even refuses to teach a certain truth, although he personally holds to it, then those in his congregation who deny that truth will feel freer actively to deny it.

Elias' observation is a good argument in favour of a strong confession of faith, because no preacher can say everything all the time, and so people can seize on an absence of teaching as a denial of that teaching. But a strong confession of faith cuts under that supposed denial because a minister can refer people to the confession, as well (of course) as thanking them for reminding him that there is more to be taught than he has been.

Nick said...

I think perhaps the danger is not that it leads to a denial of certain doctrines, with regards to holding the opposite, but rather that by avoiding them, things of real weight are treated as if they are of no consequence. This is the great danger I see where I am, not that the central doctrines are denied, but that the devil has a field day through a conspiracy of silence that instills in the church that the weightiest things are of no matter as they aren't "practical" enough or "relevant" enough. In my experience with students this doesn't lead them to deny, say, total depravity, it means they simply have no use for it.

Anonymous said...

This was from 1840? Interesting...this was exactly why my wife and I left the PCA church we had been members of for 12 years. I'm afraid that our pulpits are filled with businessmen, therapists, managers, and marketing people. We need more Jeremiahs, Malachis, and Pauls; we get Dr. Phil and Colonel Sanders. We would be in deep trouble if it wasn't for the fact that Jesus is the one Who is building His Church.