A pilot flying North flies a com· pass heading of 360°. To follow this true course requires constant checking of his position and his compass heading. Deviations and corrections must be made for changing wind conditions.

Such changes and corrections must take place in the preaching in our churches today or we will find ourselves 20° “off-course.”

The work of the church and our preachers is to preach God’s divinely inspired revelation of Himself, to administer the sacraments, and to exercise discipline.

Much of our preaching today is about the Word, a great deal of philosophizing and moralizing, much dramatics, but very little of the unfolding of God’s Holy Word.

I am profoundly convinced that our preachers today, by and large, are grossly ignorant of Scripture. They just do not know their Bibles. They are ignorant to the extent that they cannot preach exegetical sermons. There is very little expository preaching today.

The characteristic of expository preaching is that it is not merely an exposition of a verse and passage or a running commentary of the truths it conveys, but that it becomes a prophetic message and that it has a distinct form and pattern. Furthermore, it must always be applied and its relevance shown to the contemporary situation.

As a child of God, I want the preacher to teach me what God has to say to me so that I may, in the office of a believer, function and apply these teachings to every avenue of my life.

There is a certain trend in our church today that must be stopped abruptly. Let me illustrate—formerly the church sanctuary displayed the big Bible prominently and squarely in the center of the church. Today, an increasing number of pulpits are podiums, often with the Bible hid from view. This tends to de-emphasize the Bible and accentuate the preacher. Now there is even a tendency to place the podium off-center, to the right or left of the sanctuary. This happens to be the case in the Calvin “Knollcrest Chapel”—20 degrees off-center.

What are some of the fruits of today’s kind of preaching? Well, for instance, discipline in our church today is almost non-existent. When did you last hear of a person being excommunicated? When did you last hear of a person being kept back from the communion table? Family visiting has become a social exercise.

This is not all the fault of the ministers. In fact, the fault lies mostly with the consistories and the congregations. We saddle our preachers with so much that does not properly belong to their calling. Too many church members seek to make of their minister an errand boy or social figure, little realizing that this undermines the sense of calling which a minister needs. A minister is the undershepherd of God’s people. Let us elevate him to his rightful position, giving him time to study; then ask of him to teach us God’s truths and only God’s truths.

20° “Off-Course” can be easily corrected—if, we only know that we are “off-course.”


Marvin Muller, a realtor of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Reformed Fellowship, Inc.


It is strange what is done in the name of ecumenicity in our day. One never quite knows what will be next. If it were not such serious business it might even become a game to find new ecumenical approaches.

Recently in Grand Rapids we have seen some very interesting events. Two Christian Reformed ministers were called to task for participating in the installation service of the Rev. Vincent Licatesi, who having left the Christian Reformed denomination was being installed in his new Christian Reformation congregation. It was indicated that this was a schismatic group and therefore our ministers did not belong there. One of the ministers involved told his Classis that he felt that to participate in the installation was an act of true, Biblical ecumenicity. And of course, both the Christian Reformed Church and the Christian Reformation Church subscribe to the very same confessional statements of unity! Certainly there could be legitimate ground for ecumenicity, it seems.

If this were the only event of recent weeks, we could easily forget it as “water over the dam.” But in the Grand Rapids Press of the Saturday before Good Friday a note was made of a Union Good Friday service in which a local Christian Reformed minister was to participate along with a representative of a local Roman Catholic organization. Only a few days later a newsletter from the Grand Rapids Area Council of Churches came to my desk listing at least some of the area Good Friday services, and in three of them local Christian Reformed ministers were to be participating with representatives of local Roman Catholic organizations or congregations. And what is most interesting is that the Christian Reformed minister whose consistory overtured their Classis to admonish the two brethren who had participated in the installation of Rev. Licatesi, was one of the ministers participating with a representative of Rome!

I fail to see this as an evidence of consistency. We are asked to admonish those who acted in line with Confessional loyalty but can participate in community services with those expressly condemned in our Confessions . . . On the other hand, perhaps it is consistent after all. But is it consistent with our Formula of Subscription?

Consistency—thou art a gem!


Jerome Julien is pastor of the Faith Christian Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan.