Apologetics for Homiletics – Part 2

The whole issue of whether homiletics training and methodology might quench or restrict the Spirit in some way is a critical issue.  Today and tomorrow we will scratch the surface of this issue, then another issue after that.

Doesn’t homiletics quench the Spirit? There is no doubt that God is not limited to working through and with us, He can also work around and despite us.  A passing comment, perhaps even when we preached error of some sort, sometimes has been used of God to “bless” someone.  Several things need to be taken into account, the first of which is subsidiary but worthy of note:

1. Not all positive feedback should be trusted. It’s an experiment I do not suggest you try.  If you stand up and read a passage and then preach biblical sounding truth with a certain amount of enthusiasm or seriousness, but deliberately don’t preach the text before you, deliberately slip in some error, contradict yourself a few times and avoid all specific application . . . what will happen?  You will receive positive feedback.  If it sounded too intellectual to be intelligible, then people will say “That was so rich!”  If it included an amusing anecdote at some point, then some people will shake your hand firmly and declare that they’ve been blessed.  If they can’t think of anything positive to say, they’ll shake your hand and say thank you anyway.  Why?  Because people are polite to preachers (they wouldn’t want to stand in front of a crowd and speak!)  And sadly, in some cases, they have not heard enough good preaching, or trained themselves by constant use of the Bible, in order to recognize poor preaching when they hear it.

Remember that the test of “biblical” preaching is not just the preaching of biblical truth that blesses people (the usual test to which people default), it is the preaching of the truth in the passage preached that appropriately and genuinely influences people. All positive feedback is not a trustworthy indicator of your effectiveness in ministry, nor even of God being at work in their lives.

I have three more thoughts on this issue of the quenching of the Spirit by homiletics, but I’ll add them tomorrow to avoid making this the longest post ever!

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