I’ve always had a hard time with “preaching.” I’ve always associated it with the role of the evangelist. And then, I’ve always associated the role of the evangelis with a certain kind of preacher – the wild-eyed, impassioned, unthinking kind.
He proclaims what he has received from his forbears without any kind of seasoned alalysis, and blasts those who disagree with him *because* they disagree with him, again without any inquiry as to *why* they might think differently, or consideration about whether some small part of his opponent’s line of thought might be right. This is not to say my preacher isn’t smart. He’s smart all right. But he’s so confident in what he knows that he directs his intelligence to invective, with lancelike force skewering his opponent by means of a superior way with words.
He sounds like a rat, but that’s my envy talking. Provided that he’s right in his worldview, not lacking in Christian love, and submitted to God, he can be a scalpel in God’s hand.
He just can’t be *me*.
Some kind of combination of who I am and how I was raised means that I don’t have the kind of cultural confidence to be that kind of preacher. He has a hollistic vision for the kind of society which is totally aligned with Christ. He almost remembers it with the nostalgia you normally reserve for your earliest memories of childhood. His zeal to preach comes from the fact that it seems so simple to him to return to the way it ought to be.
No such luck for me. I’m so used to being out of joint with the rest of the world that when it comes to launching an assault on our un-Christian culture, I don’t know which foot to put forward first. The preacher knows how to get the heads of his congregation nodding. The best I can ever get is furrowed brows. My great skill is thinking. The preacher might say I think too much. But at any rate, I’m much better at encapsulating an idea than at rallying the troops.
I thought that meant that I’m no good at preaching. I narrowed my field to teaching and I was quite happy with myself. But lately I’ve been hearing of another kind of preacher w ho does more in the way of thinking. There’s a professor here named Haddon Robinson, who is in charge of the Gordon Conwell [Center for Preaching](http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/cfp/) adn who teaches all the classes on preaching here. he doesn’t know anything of my demagogue of a preacher at all, and they seay he’s won national awards for his skill.
He gave a sermon the other day in chapel on Jeptha, who sacrificed his daughter as a human sacrifice, and was still counted as an example of faith in Hebrews 11. I could reconstruct for you nearly every point of the sermon, how God honors zeal, but zeal without knowledge leads to devastating mistakes. (I may still, it was a good sermon.) But they called it preaching! It wasn’t even preachy! It was this overwhelming flood of temperance.
This is something I could get behind. Oh, I can already ehar the demagogue scoffing in the back of my mind. Real preaching – what he calls preaching – I stil can’t do. But this other thing, which aims at being thoughtful and composed, this is something I think I can do.
Do you know – I ‘ve been told – they actually recommend hear that you write out your whole sermon in advance. Then they tell you to memorize it. I didn’t even know that was allowed! I’m not so sure about the memorization part, but I’m sure I know how to write!