Al Mohler on “Why Expositional Preaching is a Bad Idea”

Do you know how your understanding of preaching  has been shaped  in recent centuries by the Pietists, the Revivalists, the Liberals, the Pragmatists and the Consumerists?  If you don’t, you need to because these influences are shaping the crisis of preaching in the church  today. That’s why this message by Al Mohler deserves a wide, wide hearing.   It is 21st Christian preaching and its origins 101.

The frightening reality today is that preaching has metamorphosized into many different forms, and we are therefore required to differentiate these unbiblical forms from true biblical preaching, and to do that we label biblical preaching as “expository” preaching.  And sadly, expository preaching is far from the norm in the church today, and it’s no wonder given the contented widespread biblical ignorance we see in the Christian church.

Mohler is a champion for expository preaching, and in this message he carefully and wisely considers the  many arguments given by opponents of expository preaching, and examines how each of these historically developed from bad, and even shocking theology.  Hence his provocative title.  This should be required listening for your leaders and discipleship groups, if not your whole church.

By the way, if you haven’t listened to any of the messages at the 9 Marks at SBTS conference you are missing a real treat.

Why Expositional Preaching is a Bad Idea —

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Christians and Culture with Ken Myers

I usually groan when I hear the words ‘Christian’ and ‘culture’ used in the same sentence.  But in the mind of Ken Myers it actually makes sense, and makes sense biblically, because he rejects the churches attempts at popular contextualization.  Mark Dever interviews the fascinating Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio.  There was so much information packed into this interview that I’ve had to listen to it twice, and it was such a joy the second time around.

Ken talks about his education, his work at NPR, and how Mars Hill Audio came to be, and what it’s focus is.

Ken  begins by saying that the difficulty in talking about culture is that we don’t know where to start; we don’t have a good framework to know how to tackle it. There are many who have attempted to adapt to the culture by introducing media, entertainment and appealing to a consumer culture, such as the Church Growth Movement, but they have not understood the dangers that they present.  And from a historical perspective now, those dangers have taken hold of those churches.  Most would agree that contemporary society is confused overall, and it’s irresponsible to look to the world for models that we would structure the church around.

In fact, we have become Christian “choosers”, or “consumers” today, rather than becoming Christian disciples.  We treat church like a commodity, and we treat people like consumers, and our culture has conditioned us to fill those shoes.

In the church, Ken sees a problem developing in the intellectual life of the church.  Pastors are taking cues from the dumbed-down pop Christian culture, while Christians are reading at a far lower caliber books than they did 30 years ago.  Today the demand for discernment is greater than it ever has been, and we are generally very ill-equipped for any kind of useful discernment.

Ken also talks about how Christianity has become more American than Christian, which is something that’s been happening for a long time.  There has been the temptation for the Christian church to be the “chaplaincy” for the American project.  Secular people have defined what the American project is, and the church is there to bless it.  Yet, in the other direction, Ken is disappointed in the efforts of the Right Wing to engineer a Christian culture into society via a political machine that has consumed billions of dollars.  He observes that there is only so much we can do that society will allow.

Given our media hungry culture, Ken says we as Christians must be skilled in the use of language.  God has revealed himself to our age through words and language. And we ought to be conversant in poetry, prose and language arts.

Ken talks about things that define how our culture operates and thinks, from “optionalities” (having the freedom of unlimited options) to the danger of informality. We have also lost formal rhetorical speech, and we are one of the only cultures that have lost this formal register of speech, because we have developed a suspicion of authority.  And this has application to churches who seek to contextualize themselves and their message to this culture.  Can we contextualize to a cultural that prizes informality because it rejects authority?  Are our church values of informality encouarging further rejection of authority?  These are serious questions that we need to be thinking about.

Here’s a Bibliography of books and articles mentioned in the interview:

Nicholas Carr’s Atlantic Monthly Article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Books by Mortimer Adler, John Stott, Carl F. H. Henry

Knowing God, by J. I. Packer

Mediated, by Thomas De Zengotita

Mark Edmundsons article from Harper’s Magazine, “On the Uses of a Liberal Education

Why Read?, by Mark Edmundson

All Gods Children and Blue Suede Shoes, by Ken Myers

The Democratization of American Christianity, by Nathan Hatch

Foolishness to the Greeks, by Lesli Newbigin

Doing Our Own Thing, by John McWhorter

The Gravedigger Files, by Os Guinness

The Death of Character, by James Davison Hunter

Anything by David Wells

Technopoly, by Neil Postman

Culture Making, by Andy Crouch

This is a fabulous interview filled and will raise your level of Christian awareness.

Christians and Culture >>>

John Piper on the Life and Legacy of William Tyndale

At this years New Attitude Conference, John Piper brought to life the work and world of William Tyndale, and reflected on his amazing achievements.  Tyndale translated the New Testament and parts of the Old into English, and was violently opposed by the Roman Catholic church, which lead to his execution by strangulation and being burned at the stake.

Tyndale’s English translation found it’s way into the King James Bible (after his death) and also properly translated various words and phrases that had skewed the Latin translation to support the Roman Catholic ecclestiastical system and Roman Catholic understanding of the gospel.

One very interesting section of Piper’s message draws a parallel between Tyndales opponent Erasmus and post-modern “Christian” writers of today:

There are elitist, cool, avant-garde, marginally evangelical writers and scholars today for whom what I’m about to read here which is written to describe Erasmus and Moore is amazingly parallel:

 

“Not only is there not only no fully realized Christ or devil in Erasmus book, there is a touch of irony about it all with a feeling of the writer cultivating a faintly superior ambiguity, as if to be dogmatic, for example about the full theology of the work of Christ, was to be rather distasteful.” [reference not cited]

 

[Begin new quote] “I just feel that in book after book today. That to be robust and strong and full about what Christ achieved “feels rather distasteful.” By contrast William Tyndale is ferociously single-minded. The mater in hand, the immediate access of the soul to God without intermediary is far too important for hints of faintly ironic superiority. Tyndale is as four-square as a carpenters tool. But in Erasmus account of the origins of his book, there is a touch of the sort of layering of ironies found in the games with personae.”

End of quote from Daniell. [from David Daniell, William Tyndale: A Biography]

 

It is ironic, and this a warning, I hope you will hear, from a ‘dad-like’ guy for you, it is ironic and sad that today supposedly avant-garde Christian writers strike a cool, evasive, imprecise, artistic, superficially reformist pose of Erasmus and call it ‘post-modern’ when in fact it is totally pre-modern, because it is totally permanent. It happens in every single age. It’s a clever way of writing for unsuspecting people like you who don’t have a lot to measure it by, because your roots aren’t deep yet in church history and in reading things from the 19th and 18th and 17th and 16th and 15th century so that when you open up this contemporary post-modern thing you say, “What in the Sam Hill is new about that?” Don’t be dupped. Be thoughtful. Be a thinker. Go deep. Know your history.
This is an excellent message that you won’t want to miss.

Ligonier Contending for the Truth 2007 Conference

contendingforthetruth.jpgSproul, MacArthur, Mohler, Piper and Zacharias put on a great conference which looked at the problem of postmodernism and the attacks being made against orthodox Christianity today.  The 14 sessions in MP3 are available for download for $45.

  • Postmodernism and Philosophy (Zacharias)
  • Postmodernism and Society (Mohler)
  • Postmodernism and Christianity (Sproul Jr)
  • Questions and Answers
  • The Task of Apologetics (Sproul)
  • Faith and Reason (Piper) free at Desiring God>>>
  • The Challenge of Science (MacArthur)
  • The Challenge of Relativism (Piper) free at Desiring God>>>
  • The Problem of Evil (MacArthur)
  • The Existence of God (Zacharias)
  • The Authority of Scripture (Mohler)
  • The Holy Spirit and Apologetics (Mohler)
  • Questions and Answers #2
  • The Resurrection of Christ (Sproul)
  • Contending for the Truth mp3 collection page >>>