Letter to the Editor…

Dear Editor,

The article “What Preaching Do We Need?” which appeared in one of your recent issues was interesting to me. I cannot come to a decision whether I agree with the writer or not. For me the article is not too plain, especially when he assumes to have established a meaningful difference regarding the responses of his listeners, and that this difference is a determining factor as to what material a preacher should choose.

But has the preacher really a choice? As an ambassador of Christ he is under orders to preach the gospel. Now we are all well aware of the fact that today the meaning of the word gospel is stretched so far as to include anything and everything. Even our preachers in the Christian Reformed Church are not entirely free from a common generalization; it is so easy for them to refer and appeal to our doctrine and our confessions. and use it as a ready basis to any text they choose to preach on. It may be that is reformed preaching and the only way. Yet I am convinced that many occupants in the pew are ready to agree that is not the only good way, for we have the experience of listening to a good doctrinal discourse where the real core of the gospel is hard to detect. Our preachers take much for granted and easily assume their audience to be matured Christians; they address the same people every Sunday the same people that were catechized in the same doctrine from youth On, it should not be necessary to always be concerned about the elementary concepts of the gospel. Yet I believe we cannot by-pass the simplicity of the gospel and at the same time retain its power of refreshing and renewing lives.

It may sound odd but I am sure the answer to the question “what preaching do we need?” is more gospel preaching than our present pulpit is bringing us. Doctrinal sermons tend to be long on argument and logic, but short on witnessing; addressing the intellect more than the heart. Our theology as it came down to us in past generations is very one-sided; seemingly divorced from our lives and our responsibilities. For instance, the text of John 3:16. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son”; our theology teaches us not to take that at face value, for our Sovereign God is selective in His love, which of course we believe, yet at this junction what right have we to emphasize God’s sovereignty in order to make thtext plain. The Lord demands obedience before understanding; it is not primarily a question of doctrine but of ethical, voluntary response. This may sound like Arminianism, never-the-less it is our duty to pattern our lives to God‘s revealed will.

At this point our preaching is very weak. When do we hear a message on repentance from sin? Knowing the truth so well. where is our burning zeal to escape the world with its sin and corruption? When we have a visiting Pastor for a Sunday service it would be surprising if his message would be on I John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things of this world.” Our experience in the pew is that they come with a complimentary message on the theological correctness of our creeds and our superior understanding of God’s word to other churches who are in error, thus sponsoring an undertone of satisfaction with our attainments on our doctrinal pronouncements. Only a scant ten years ago the boast at our centennial of having “the best and purest interpretation of the Scriptures” is still ringing in our ears, and now we face an unpleasant drop in our membership without a visible means of checking.

Yes, efforts are in motion to refreshen our interest in the creeds—the weekly Banner, our Torch and Trumpet, and our Federation Messenger leads the weekly Men‘s Society to use our creeds in thstudy of the Bible. We are really studying the creeds, not the Bible; and looked at from that angle one sympathizes with the slogan of the Evangelicals—“No creed but Christ.” So I conclude as answer to the question ”What preaching do we need?” We need more Christ-centered preaching than doctrinal discourses. Let us take a lesson from men like Billy Graham who preaches the Word and not the theologies of the churches.