More Bible less anecdote

Brent Strawn is not a fan of much of our preaching.

If the Bible is (or should be) as important as we say it is, then much of what passes for preaching and teaching will have to change. Google searches for witty jokes or inspiring anecdotes will have to go. Preachers and teachers will have to do harder work with the Bible itself, the only Holy Scripture the church recognizes. Catchy series or kitschy themes designed to hook a congregation may do more harm than good if they don’t lead us into a deeper, more sustained knowledge of scripture, “the Book of God,” the one we should live our lives by. Less sermon illustrations from camp or the grocery store are in order, and more exegesis of the text called for—if, that is, we care about creating Christians who are fluent in what should be their native tongue, who know what to say when they are “on stage,” as it were, because they’ve memorized their script(ure).

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4 thoughts on “More Bible less anecdote

  1. The Bible doesn’t shape our lives as his article stated but, rather, the living Christ encountered in the pages of the text is the one doing the shaping. We are to encounter Christ in the Scriptures and it is this Christ which we are to exegete. (See this Sunday’s Lectionary text.)

    As for nonbiblical stories, they are helpful in framing the overarching narrative of the biblical text and should be walking alongside that narrative helping us to exegete Christ in the world around us.

    Memorable preaching may be based on a text…it may not be. Memorable preaching occurs when our hearts are open to hearing the Spirit of God speaking to us and revealing the living Christ.

  2. Let’s not set Christ against the Bible or Bible against Christ, or allow an “ugly ditch” to form between Bible and Christ so as to excite our passions for ecstatic preaching to fill a void of our own making. “For you gladly put up with fools, being wise yourselves!” And more…

  3. At first read I thought the quote depicted a false dichotomy. But the more I think about it, the more keen Strawn’s comments are.

    1. I agree, Brent Strawn is “spot on,” but some commentators do indeed introduce dichotomies (or a version of Lessing’s “ugly ditch”) into their pronounciamentos on scripture, apparently to advance veiled aims. N.T. Wright says by all means, let’s have the debate, but not a mere exchange of postmodern prejudices.

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