Friday, March 2, 2018
What is truth?
There are those who approach the Scriptures as mostly myth, legend, and fairy tale. You hear them all the time in the media. Usually it comes with the caveat that it does not matter if they are true or not because what is important is the teaching point, the so-called moral of the story. These critics begin with the assumption that the preaching point or teaching point comes first and the story is manufactured, maybe from a kernel of truth, to illustrate the point or moral of the story.
At a circuit winkel recently we watched the second module on preaching put out by the Synod and it is on preaching textually. One of the fallacies of preaching is the treatment of text as mere starting point for the sermon. Some prepare the sermon and then try to find a text to support it all -- instead of living within the text and forming the sermon to the text. In other words, some treat the text as mere illustration of the preaching point. So...you may not have to be a higher critic to treat the text in the same way.
Perhaps the problem lies with the approach -- namely with the idea that the moral or preaching point or lesson is the most important thing. What you end up with is the search for an answer to the question of why evil befalls decent and good people instead of dealing with Job. . . to give but one example.
I am not sure why we are so tempting to reduce history to lessons for instruction or preaching points or morals of the story. I am not sure why we think that the whole point of the Gospel is to improve us or our behavior. I am not sure why we think the words and works of God have to make sense to us so we can understand them. In all of these the outcome is ultimately the same. We use the Scriptures as a jumping off point and, in doing so, fail to preach Christ and Him crucified.
If all God was interested in was improving our behavior, He would have stuck with the law. Every parent knows the shortest distance from command to obedience is threat. But apparently God was not simply interested in behavior. It should not come as a surprise to us but it does. It surprises the preachers who think of the text as mere stepping stone to their proclamation or the people in the pew who think that the relevance or understanding or some DIY project on their life is the goal.
We continually make God small when we think we are making Him large.