Thursday, May 21, 2009

Preach the Gospel at All Times; It is Necessary to Use Words

Mark Galli debunks a treasured evangelical urban legend:
I've heard the quote once too often. It's time to set the record straight—about the quote, and about the gospel.

Francis of Assisi is said to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words."

This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough—that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.

The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age . . .

Go read the whole thing.

It is true that too many churchfolk are all talk, no action.
It is also true that the Bible never ceases to command us to speak boldly, to preach the gospel, by which it means with our mouths.

It's a two-fisted gospel, folks.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Thanks for posting this article. I've always thought that quote was a pithy statement when understood to mean your lifestyle needs to back up your words. But, it is true that in these times, words are discounted until they are devoid of meaning. I partcularly like the statement:
"Preach the gospel; use words if necessary" goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets and Jesus and Paul put on preaching.