Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Just Turn it Loose"

Here's a choice quote on "making the Bible relevant" from a book by Ben Patterson called Preaching to Convince that I saw once upon a time at Theocentric Preaching:
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.

The modern church is endlessly attempting to update, innovate, and augment 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.


Todd Spargo said...

I’m wondering if this same Spurgeon quote could be applied to advertising in a Gospel Driven church. What would happen if we just spoke the Gospel and let God advertise himself?

Jared said...

Todd, you're really hung up on the advertising thing, aren't you?

Todd Spargo said...


nhe said...

sorry if I misunderstand Jared - I completely agree with you here, but I can't really visualize what

"relentlessly being focused on inviting sinners through a Spirit-trusting enjoyment of the undiluted gospel........"

...looks like? I think I know what it's "not" more than what it "is".

Louie Mercer, Frank Mercer and Mike Ellis: The Church for Men Dudes said...

Amen. Great post. I love checking out your blog on a daily basis.

Jared said...

nhe, good question. I think such an approach might take these forms:

a) Ditching the hard sell invitation/sales pitch, and perhaps an official invitation all together.

b) Preaching as though the gospel is for all people, not just "sinners" (by which we usually mean "non-Christians").

c) Focusing more on ways to preach the holistic gospel and ways to incarnate the gospel (in service, etc.) and less on ways to attract through styles, entertainments, and gimmicks.

d) Trusting that the Spirit is working through the faithful preaching of the gospel as opposed to frantically counting noses and dollars and trusting that for proof of "success."

Does any of that help clarify?