Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Nothing Wrong with the Seed: or, Getting Out of Scripture's Way

Here's a choice quote on "making the Bible relevant" from a book by Ben Patterson called Preaching to Convince that I saw at Theocentric Preaching tonight:
This particular temptation used to be the sole province of the liberal theological tradition. But in the past few years, it has gained a number of victims in the evangelical community . . . The sin courted in this temptation is the presumption that it is the Bible that is dead and we who are alive . . .

Is the Bible relevant? Dr. Bernard Ramm once remarked, “There is nothing more relevant than the truth.” The longer I preach, the more convinced I become that the best thing I can do is simply get out of Scripture’s way.

Yes. Love that. "The best thing I can do is simply get out of Scripture's way."

I am a big fan of the notion we can't make the Bible relevant; it already is relevant.
Reminds me of that great Spurgeon quote:
Scripture is like a lion. Who ever heard of defending a lion? Just turn it loose; it will defend itself.

On a related note, I was thinking today about the modern church's endless attempts at updating, innovating, and augmenting the message of the gospel to best speak to our audiences. It occurs to me that we have somehow decided, a priori, that there is something wrong with the seed that must be fixed. Why don't we stop and perhaps wonder if the problem is not with the seed, but with the soil?

This requires some theological ruminations and may (will?) have some radical implications for how we do ministry, particularly pastoral ministry.

In any event, it seems we are obsessively focused on convincing seekers through a self-trusting fixation on programming and style, when we ought to be relentlessly focused on inviting sinners through a Spirit-trusting enjoyment of the undiluted gospel and a scandalous grace.

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