Thursday, June 21, 2007

Finally A New Post

Preaching as a Sacrament

Those of us being ordained in the Presbyterian Church are going to be called Ministers of the Word and Sacrament. But what is the Word and why are we going to be ministers of it? The Second Helvetic Confession (the second confession in our Book of Confessions) defines Word as being the canonical books of the Old and New Testament as the Church has held it in esteem for two thousand years. But the Second Helvetic Confession goes one step further when speaking of the ministers relation to the Word when at the top of the fourth paragraph of the first chapter it says these words, “The Preaching of the Word is the Word of God.” . How does that strike you? Let the words sink in for a moment…what are you feeling? Pressure maybe? Do you believe this? That the words that you hear on a Sunday morning are the words of God? The question we must ask ourselves is how do we value the 15-20 minute sermon during worship when we check our text messages and examine the persons head in front of us or count the number of fleur-de-leis on the back wall. Do we hold preaching with the same value as the writer of the 2nd Helvetic? Maybe if we did we would expect more than simple stories and clich√©s from our pulpits fit more for a nice speech at the Rotary or the Lions Club than for true exposition from Scripture. We have coddled our minds to believe that the sermon is not meant as a time for learning or teaching from Scripture about the will God has for us in our lives but as an occasion for mere moralistic tales of “practical life” receding the original presentation of Scripture. The call today is supposedly for an orthopraxis (right work) not an orthodoxy (right doctrine) focus of the Christian worldview. We live in a time of anti-intellectualism in the Church where we want pastors to give us a system of right action not a system of right belief. It is the position of the Confessions and creeds of our church that this is not the correct way to receive the Word. The Westminster Shorter Catechism in questions 88-90 and the Westminster Larger Catechism in questions 155-160 share with the 2nd Helvetic this same view of Scripture and the preaching from thereof. You may be asking now what does this have to do with me? What is required of me in the exposition of the Word? Question 160 of the Larger Catechism calls for the persons in the pew to approach the Word with “diligence, preparation, and prayer, examine what they hear by the Scriptures (alone), receive the truth with faith, love, meekness and readiness of mind, as the Word of God.” The question is asked then how can anyone do this if they are not paying attention to or actually receiving from the pulpit the reading and exhibition of the Word?


Russell Smith said...

Glad to see you're back -- and with a kicking post too!

Reformed Catholic said...

B.P. ...

glad to see you back writing here, and a great post, with some great insights I'll be using this Sunday.

Blessings !!

Chuck said...

Glad to see you back. I have a missionary in my church this week and he said he preached a 30 minute sermon because that's what Americans wanted. A lady came up to him and said "I had to walk 2.5 hours one way to get to church. I expect more than a 30 minute sermon!" Sadly most of our people would be happy with a 30 minute SERVICE!

will spotts said...

Excellent post.

Our 'theological ancestors' held a very different view of preaching than that we seem to hold today. I don't think very many of them would even recognize the fifteen minute talks as sermons.