Whatever Happened to Reformed Preaching?

The Last Southern Presbyterian Theologian

I received on of the highest compliments I’ve ever been paid today while visiting a ninety-year-old saint. While spending some time with him at the assisted living center, an elderly member of the congregation where I am interning told me that this past Lord’s Day I preached on of the best sermons he has heard in more than a decade. Having heard the preaching of his regular minister, I think I’d disagree – even more so given that I would call myself and adequate preacher at best, not a particularly good one.

One the other hand, it seems that there is a dearth of even adequate preaching in the vast majority of pulpits today; I’ve yet to hear a preacher that I found really great. Perhaps the last truly great English speaking preacher was Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones of Westminster Chapel in London. Since his death, there have been precious few good preachers.

Given the age of podcasting, it seems that everyone thinks that there is a plethora of great preachers out there now. While I think there is one preacher currently that is particularly good (Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Highland Village, Tex.), even he strays from his text too often for my tastes. Yet there are a number of incredibly gifted homiletics professors at our Reformed seminaries at the moment, such as Dr. Bryan Chappell at Covenant Theological Seminary, and Dr. Joseph Pipa at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

So why is it that so much of what passes for preaching today is in reality atrocious?

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Liberal Biblical Scholarship?

This post is probably going to be a little rambling, so bear with me.

It’s getting later and later in the evening, and I still can’t manage to get to bed. It’s this time of night where my brain either shuts down or goes into fifth gear; tonight, it seems that fifth gear is what it’s going to be.

I’m more than a little bit old fashioned; one of my relatives has told me more than once that I was born 50 years too late. Among some of my more old fashioned habits is that I still believe in the centrality of family worship (there will be a post on that much later), and I still have my own private devotional exercises every evening – in Greek. I know that seems terribly academic, but it helps me keep my Greek from getting rusty (at best) or completely disappearing (at worst). Yet, as seemingly academic as it is, without a solid knowledge of Greek, pastors are forced to be second-handers for the rest of their careers, never able to check the work of the latest Greek “scholar”.

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David’s Gay Crush

In between my discharge from the Army and getting married and starting my time at seminary (about a nine year period), I must have worked a half-dozen jobs. Among my favorites, and among the ones I was the best at, was restaurant management. I worked primarily in the quick service end of the industry, but I spent some time in the casual dining end of things as well.

There are some things you just can’t escape in the food business – nasty customers, thieves, robbers, and gay waiters/employees are one of them. I have always suspected that they number of homosexuals is disproportionately high in the restaurant business for reasons that I’ve never been able to discern. In some ways, much of my life has been spent, quite unintentionally, tearing down the gay communities negative stereotypes of Christians, and this was never any more true than it was as a manager for two different QSR chains.

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Yet Another Bad Argument

For those of you not on Facebook, this image and others like have been making the rounds for the past couple of weeks.

It proves several things, at least to me:

  1. People are less and less interested in logical argumentation than they are in soundbites.
  2. The public is clearly unable to spot logical fallacies.

To be perfectly frank, this sort of argumentation doesn’t impress me one whit. It doesn’t serve to move the current debate over the definition of marriage forward at all, because it can’t answer some truly basic questions. First, at what point was marriage defined as “selling your daughter for three goats and a cow”? Where can I find documentation of said definition?

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Ex-Gay? Celibate Homosexual? (A Question of Names)

So I just read a phenomenal, erudite post which you can find here. I was quite captivated by much of what the author of the aforementioned post had to say, and it stimulated some thinking on my own part – a sure sign of well-thought out writing!

First, I’d like to deeply thank the author of the post I’ve linked to. His thoughts, as one who no longer identifies himself as gay, were very, very helpful. While he and I could likely have a rousing debate on the subject of the Church of Rome, I cannot possibly express how good and helpful it was to read anything from anyone who has, by their own profession, left the homosexual lifestyle.

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Summer Posting Schedule

I thought I should get up a post with fair warning in it. I’m the pastoral intern this summer for a church that’s part of the Reformed Church in the United States. I’ll be laboring among this congregation for the next 10 weeks, and let me just say that the next 10 weeks are looking awfully full.

This means that I’ll not be posting as frequently as I’d like to. I certainly hope that those few readers that stop in regularly will continue to check in, or add me to your feed-reader.

I will, however, post as I am able to. So keep your eyes open!

Some Further Thoughts on Homosexual “Christians”

I don’t want this blog to descend into a constant discussion of the questions surrounding homosexuality and Christianity, but I keep reading on bad argument after another being put forward by the pro-homosexual crowd, and I can’t simply let them pass. A recent commenter on a blog I follow wrote “The verses people quote against homosexuality aren’t as clear as you think.” Needless to say, I did a double-take when I read that sentence.

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What the Bible Still Says About Homosexuality (Part 4)

So we are now three posts in to my response to Daniel Helminiak; so far we’ve seen blatant logical fallacies, and some pretty fancy eisegetical gymnastics, but we’re not through yet! This train wreck continues on for another couple of paragraphs, so we’ve still got some work to do.

Today we’re going to look at Helminiak’s attempt to tie Romans 1:24-27 to the Old Testament Law, and see if that boat can actually carry him where he wants to go.

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What the Bible Still Says About Homosexuality (Part 3)

After looking at Helminiak’s argument regarding Genesis 19 and the Sodom narrative, today we turn to the next phase in his argument. One of the things I noted in yesterday’s post is Helminiak’s failure to provide contextual, consistent exegesis based on the original languages. We’ll see again today that this is a problem that isn’t isolated in the least.

After complaining that the church has turned sexuality into a litmus test, Helminiak turns to Romans 1:26-27. Here we will see again how Helminiak relys on “proof by assertion” to buttress his argument regarding the normality of homosexuality.

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What the Bible Still Says About Homosexuality (Part 2)

In yesterday’s post, we looked at Daniel Helminiak’s first argument regarding the Bible and homosexuality.

Today, we’re going to turn to the second phase of his argument; as you can probably guess, we’re going to have to deal with the story of Sodom in Genesis 19. Here’s what Helminiak has to say:

Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.

That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.

The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).

But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

What we have here is really only one argument, despite the fact that it spans four paragraphs. The argument is this: the sin of Sodom was about social injustice, not about sexuality. But what I find most interesting, in reading these four paragraphs, is what is omitted, and what Helminiak doesn’t do.

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