In the foreword to The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative by Steve Mathewson (a text for Hom. 1, great so far!), Haddon Robinson wrote, “The more committed we are to the auhority of Scripture, the more dangerous it is to read narratives incorrectly. There is no greater abuse of the Bible than to proclaim in God’s name what God is not saying. God commands us not to bear false witness” (page 12). Wow! I couldn’t have said it better.
While I was in college, we a had an emotionally charged (though content-challenged) chapel speaker that stirred up questions among the students. Actually, we had a lot of those. This particular speaker provoked a somewhat negative response from many students. The answer given to these concerned students was that the college intentionally invited speakers of various styles to broaden our ability to listen. This person said something like this: “Some speakers preach to emotion, some to the intellect, some to the will. We want you to be able to appreciate all kinds.” I about blew up! This is the same institution (which I love) that so often proclaimed that God-honoring music must be balanced emotionally, intellectually, and phsyically. “Unbalanced music does not reflect the character of God.” (or something like that). If there are such standards for music, should not the standards for the proclamation God’s Word be even higher? Why are there so many standards for music, but a preacher can be applauded for molesting emotions and manipulating the will with absolutely no intellectual or biblical basis? Why will some individuals who would walk out of a service if the music was offensive, but “Amen!” a speaker who perverts the word of God, simply because they’re a leader in a conservative church, mission agency, or institution? If someone said that a particular speaker I am not saying that there are no standards for music. Nor do I believe that every traditional church has bad preaching or vica versa. I simply think both music and preaching ought to be held to higher standards.
So my question is: What might that “standard” look like?