When Scottish theologian P.T. Forsyth published his Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind about 120 years ago, he called for effective prophetic preaching. He sought to counteract the influence of rationalistic German theology flooding the UK. Christian ministers, he said, did not descend from the Greek orator but the Hebrew prophet.
Few may be familiar with the Greek orators. However they will be familiar with the prophet’s cry: “Thus saith the Lord.”
The modern pulpit has lost that note because it has lost its preachers. Instead today we have speakers!
A trend-replacing preachers with speakers began years ago. These days, next Sunday’s preacher is not announced. If anything we are given the name of the speaker! How did this transition come about?
The democratisation of the pulpit is largely to blame. The Brethren movement probably explains this partly. In such assemblies any man moved by the spirit – his own if not the Lord have – may arise and speak. This phenomenon operates in other churches also. No doubt such speakers, layman in fact, engaged in business, farming and other pursuits are earnest for the Lord, but who sent them to speak? But does he answer Paul’s question, “how shall they preach except they be sent?” So who sends him? Himself? If a man believes he is called by God to preach, let that call be confirmed by the church. That is the ideal way to fill the pulpit.
The rise of the 'Special' is another substitute for the preacher. “Specials” are men permitted to fill the pulpit because they have a story to tell, a missionary saga to report. They deserve a hearing – but not at the cost of dispensing the preaching of the Word. No visitor and no layman carries the burden of great responsibility a preacher does.
Perhaps the greatest reason for the disappearance of the preacher, is the absence of that burden which the prophets of old carried. (Jer 23:35f., Ezk 12:10 Nah 1:1; Hab 1:1 etc) Paul carried a burden. He, the greatest church builder of all time, confessed to Corinth, “I was with you in fear and in much trembling.” (I Cor 2:3) He was weighed down by the terrible responsibility he had to declare the truth to God’s glory and not Corinth’s comfort. He knew, as we must not forget, that a preacher’s first duty is not to win souls but to glorify God. No doubt he had seen the Lord like Isaiah (6) and trembled at his calling.
May the Lord raise up more true preachers, who thunder forth, “Thus says the Lord!”
About this blog
Welcome to my blog where you can read about books, bods and battles for the truth. Your comments are invited.
Minister, pastor, evangelist, convention speaker, college lecturer, private pilot, invitee to minister in India, Singapore, Indonesia, Kenya, Cyprus USA and China, CEO of a Sydney church Retirement Village and author of four biographies - these are some areas in which I have served Christ for more than 60 years. Called to preach at age 16 I have served mainline and independent churches in all States save the NT. Decades of ministry, have led me to conclude that "judgment has begun at the church of God". Where will this end?