Teaching history from the pulpit
After the introduction, Ronnie began with preaching from Romans 1:21, demonstrating how thanklessness characterizes sinful Man. Ronnie then preached from several short passages, beginning with Luke 17:11-19, demonstrating the thankfulness that comes through faith in Jesus. In the sermon Ronnie gave several specific applications of how Christians may demonstrate our thankfulness to Christ, and Ronnie also gave a gospel call to those who have never trusted in Jesus.
All of the aspects of Ronnie's sermon mentioned above form an outstanding model for a Christian sermon, but I wanted to draw special attention to Ronnie's introduction, in which he gave a historical account of the Thanksgiving holiday. To introduce a sermon with an overview of history is rare in contemporary preaching- so rare, in fact, that Ronnie seemed a little bit apologetic to take the time to speak of history. But I think that such a presentation of history to make a theological point in a sermon is in line with biblical examples- I think of Stephen, for instance in Acts 7. Certainly, most of the history that is presented from the pulpit should be the history that is presented in the Bible, but I think that God's activity among His people from the time of the close of the canon until the present day should occasionally be mentioned in sermons as well. I think that history was probably taught in the pulpit more often in previous eras in American history, and that when the church allows secular education to have a monopoly on historical teaching, the understanding of God's people about how He has worked to preserve a gospel witness through the ages is darkened. When the church allows secular education to have a monopoly, we begin to see aberrations like the oft-repeated error that the Thanksgiving celebration at the Plymouth settlement was about the Pilgrims giving thanks to the Native Americans (rather than the Pilgrims inviting the Native Americans, who had helped them, to a feast of thanks to God).
I close this post with Psalm 100, which the Pilgrims read upon reaching the New World:
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Labels: Christian worldview