Monday, August 4, 2008

Carson on Preaching has two parts of a three part series in which D. A. Carson offers 8 significant words for understanding and preaching the Gospel (part 1) (part 2).  In part 2, Carson says: 
We must help people wrestle with what Scripture says by putting their finger on the text and working it through. The best preaching does that.  That means it's not enough just to summarize accurately what the Bible says. That's a good and important thing to do, but it's not enough. Preaching the gospel has to be done in such a way that everything of significance that is said is demonstrably tied to the text. The preacher must constantly say, "The Bible says," or words to that effect. Look at the text itself. Cite it again. Show that the connection is to be made. In other words, there is some preaching that is biblically faithful but does not make the truth demonstrably biblical. In a biblically illiterate age, one of the things that must be done is to show that what is being said is demonstrably the Word of God.
As usual, Carson articulates his point very well.  He summarizes a significant point I attempted to make in my previous post: The content of preaching (i.e., content of sermons) should be text-centered, asking and answering the question: "What does the Scripture say?"  

A man can preach a biblically faithful sermon about loving others, referencing multiple texts in John, 1 John, and perhaps Romans 5, for example.  But if these references become 'stand-alone' proof-texts used by the preacher to 'prove the point' without coming to really understand what each passage says, then a certain power and authority is lost.  The problem is not that the selected texts fail to teach the point, namely to love others, but it is that when the people leave the church, they are left saying, "The Preacher says we need to love others," rather than saying, "God has said in Scripture, we need to love others" (although both statements are technically true).  Do you see this difference?  I count it a successful sermon when people can walk away saying, "God says in 1 John 3:10-23, . . .".  When I understand what God said through John in 1 John, in a sense I hear God speak again to me as the word is preached.  There is then an authority that compels me to obey.  I can say, "I have heard from the Lord, today, and this is what he said."  This is the prophetic element of preaching that I fear is being forgotten by many 'Evangelical' preachers today. 

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