The issue of authority in preaching is important. As preachers, you and I don’t have authority in ourselves. Some may hold a position of authority in the local church polity, but that is not the same thing. Certainly in most cultures the preacher is not perceived to have an inherent social authority as they may have in the past. What’s more, we live in an age when authority is being undermined and challenged at every level. Perhaps we stand to preach and authority is an issue from the past? Perhaps today the only concern should be authenticity, relevance and connection?
Or perhaps we should stir up some authority by means of our manner, hiding any hint of personal vulnerability, or pushing our church position or expertise? Just as there is much non-authoritative preaching, so there is much pseudo-authoritative preaching, and even authoritarian preaching. What we need is authoritative preaching.
A commitment to expository preaching involves being clear on this: to the extent that we accurately present, explain and apply the Scripture, our preaching has authority. As a well-known theologian once wrote – when the Bible speaks, God speaks.
I’m not wanting to get into debates about what that means and how it might be abused by some. I just want us to ponder this truth today as we contemplate preaching again. To the extent that we accurately present, explain and apply the Scripture, we preach with authority. The church, the world…we all need to hear from God. Not our opinions, our advice, our suggestions. From God. As preachers let’s be sure we are not a part of the problem, but humble conduits for that authoritative Word.
One thought on “Authority and Preaching”
Thank you for your article Peter. I am also committed to expository preaching. Working in the Word of God, using good Inductive Bible Study methods will help us accurately present, explain and apply the Scripture to our, and the flocks lives. There’s a hunger in the Saints here in central California for the Word of Truth, and the accurate handling of it.