Monday, April 30, 2007

The Need for Theology

One of the books that I am reading right now is Preaching to a Shifting Culture which features 12 perspectives on preaching from people regularly involved in communicating God’s Word. David Hansen in his chapter Who is listening out there? wrote:
We may expect a wave of Unitarianism to sweep through the evangelical church in the next forty years, not from an invasion of liberalism but from pastoral evasion from theology. If preachers believe their audiences will not tolerate a sermon on the Trinity, it isn’t alarmism to suggest that eventually many of those preachers will believe their congregation doesn’t need the doctrine of the Trinity. And it would only be natural for the preachers eventually to doubt the necessity of understanding God as Trinity for themselves (pg. 132).


This paragraph hit me like a ton of bricks. One reason it reminds me of the challenge I face in preaching each Sunday. It is not enough to give people helpful advice for living (after all they have Dr. Phil for that) if I don’t also offer the Why or the Who behind that advice. Preaching that doesn’t focus on God, in particular Jesus, will not be effective in helping people change. Behavior follows belief and if all we offer people is how their behavior should change then they will not change. They need to also understand why that change is important and who commanded it.

Most church goers are ignorant of what the Bible says. Partly this is there own fault. We have bookstores filled with numerous Bible translations and Bible study helps. We just haven’t done the hard work of studying the Bible. Yet the entire blame doesn’t rest with the individual. Much blame lies with the minister, the preacher. We haven’t done enough in laying a solid foundation for these people to build off of. This is true in youth ministry. I was involved in youth ministry for 5 1/2 years before becoming a preaching minister. To often youth ministry is focused on “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll,” and the students get well versed in what they shouldn’t do, but they are not taught what to believe. The result is that they fall for the indoctrination of the culture and all our teaching of right and wrong go out the window. The same is true for adults. If we are not willing to teaching people about God then they will believe what Oprah tells them.

Preachers have not rightly understood what it means to be relevant. Relevant isn’t about giving people what they want, but it is giving them what the need. The foundation of what they need is a solid understanding of God, of His purposes, and His ways. Without solid theology preaching morality will have little effect in people’s lives.

If you engage in communicating God’s word I would encourage you not to shy away from the “heavy” work of theology. It is vital for our lives and the lives of the people with whom we are trying to communicate. Theology is the foundation from which a disciple of Christ is built.

1 comment:

Stan said...

"Preachers have not rightly understood what it means to be relevant. Relevant isn’t about giving people what they want, but it is giving them what the need."

Amen!!!

Sorry ... didn't mean to shout ... but it needed saying. Thanks.

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