Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of New Georgia Baptist Church.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We've got our inerrant Bible, but... oops! we forgot Jesus; or, how the liberals were partly right (part 3)

The chapel services at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, should regularly serve as an exemplar for preaching. In the presence of future pastors and missionaries, who will be charged with proclaiming the Word of God throughout the nations and will be responsible for ministering Scripture to God's people week by week, preachers at Southern Seminary chapel should be expected to demonstrate how a man called by God teaches and exhorts his hearers from the Bible. Yet this semester, as I was required to attend 18 chapel services for my Preaching Practicum (which was, BTW, a wonderful class overall), I heard 4 services in which the Good News of Jesus was absent from the preaching. In two sermons, Jesus' name was only mentioned in passing; in one sermon, the name of Jesus was not mentioned at all.

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The name of Jesus was not mentioned! Brothers and sisters in Christ reading this post, take a moment to consider this- according to Jesus (for example, in John 5:39), the Bible is all about Him; there are missionaries in countries all over the world who are risking their lives daily to introduce Jesus to men and women through the Scriptures. Yet during this past semester at Southern Seminary chapel, there were 4 sermons in which the Good News of Jesus was absent- in which those hearing the sermon could have heard, understood, and tried to apply the message of the sermon and yet remained under God's condemnation for sin, having never trusted in Christ. Are these examples of faithful Christian preaching? Are they not, instead, examples of how the gospel is being lost in the Southern Baptist Convention? (This question becomes more serious when one considers that the sermons most devoid of Christ were preached by a former president of the SBC and by a current member of the LifeWay board of trustees.)

When voicing this concern to a friend of mine, I was asked, "Does every sermon have to explicitly mention the name of Jesus?" Considering the truth that, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12 NIV), and considering that any command given from Scripture is damning apart from Christ, as we have all fallen short of God's glory (see Romans 3:23), the answer to this question must be, "Yes." Every Christian sermon must not only mention Jesus, but must be centered in Jesus, as He is the glory of God and He makes God known (see John 1:14-18).

Perhaps more disturbing than the sermons themselves was the utter lack of reaction that they received from the Seminary community. I heard many brothers praising the style of the sermons- their delivery and various points that were made. I heard virtually no one recognize Who was missing.

If someone speaking in chapel had stood and said, "The Bible is not entirely inerrant. It contains two errors and here they are..." The Seminary would have been all abuzz. The speaker would have been denounced from the pulpit and everyone would have been talking about how horrible the statements were. But as long as a speaker believes that the Bible is inerrant, he gets a pass, even if he fails to proclaim Christ from the Bible. This demonstrates how the SBC has tended to elevate the words of Scripture over the meaning of Scripture. In other words, we have indeed engaged in bibliolatry; we have proven the liberals to be partly right.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Nathan White said...

Andrew--

You've hit on a concern of mine as of late. That is, where is Christ in our preaching?

A few months ago at the Shepherds' Conference (which is excellent overall) I can still remember hearing two general sessions by two prominent preachers (not MacArthur or Mohler) where Christ wasn't mentioned or was mentioned simply in passing. I was so saddened, because they were so academically correct in other areas, but with lacking Christ they lacked power altogether. Indeed, He is the beginning and end of all our preaching, teaching, and ministry.

6:27 PM  
Blogger paul said...

This reminds me of a statement Tim Keller made to the effect that if your preaching doesn't make the connection to Jesus, you came up short. I don't usually preach, but this Sunday I will be taking a turn teaching at my church's evening service and preaching from James 4:13-17. Sometimes it takes a special effort to find the connection from the text to the gospel. I pray that the Lord will help me find the gospel application of this text and make it plain and powerful. Thanks for the reminder that this is indispensable work!

1:56 AM  
Blogger ajlin said...

Thank you for your comments, brothers. I will certainly be praying for you, Paul.

6:58 AM  

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