Here are a few more thoughts from Horton on preaching from The Christian Faith. He notes that evangelicals are guilty of the same downgrade in preaching as liberal Protestants and Catholics, namely reducing the sermon to an "expression of the personal piety of the speaker" or a "high level of instruction in religion and morals." In contrast, Biblical preaching is an announcment from God himself. Horton then adds the following:
To the extent that in more conservative circles preaching has been reduced to its didactic function or to inspiration and moral uplift, it is not surprising that younger believers look for alternative means of grace. Typically, we prefer what we can see to what we can hear: "A picture tells a thousand words." Our new images may be not statues that we venerate, but there is a real danger in Protestant churches of once again silencing God's living and active speech (i.e., the exposition of Scripture) in a sea of our own insights, visual drama, and the blue luminosity of our computer screens. Yet the Lord chose not only the content but the medium. We do not find God; he finds us. Faith comes not by feeling, thinking, seeing, or striving, but by hearing (pp. 762-63).
This is an insightful diagnosis of much that is happening in the contemporary worship scene among evangelicals, where many are seeking "alternative means of grace" (in music, drama, candles, etc.). The parallel he draws between old images (medieval statuary) and new images (video projections) is also striking. God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to spread the gospel and to build his church!
I've never been to a contemporary service; it doesn't interest me. I lived for a time in Madison, WI and so looked for a church to attend. I gained a lot of insight into churches.
One fellow explained that his church was more concerned about the feelings of the congregation rather than what was written in the Bible. I didn't attend services in that church.
In another church I heard a minister preach a sermon about pride, and concluded by asking how we, as individual Christians, would react should another Christian offer us some criticism about our life. Would we accept these words and pray about it, or would we reject the entire business? Pride, you see.
So, when I approached this man on my way out, I shook hands and told him that the sermon wasn't quite what I expected. He abruptly turned his back to me. When I asked him rather bluntly why he reacted badly, he explained that he didn't know if my comment evaluated to a complement or not.
Ah, well. You're doing a good job padre, and I enjoy reading your blog.
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