I’ve seen this list in various forms, but just in case you haven’t seen it before, here’s John Stott’s list of the five paradoxes of preaching:
1. Authentic Christian preaching is both biblical and contemporary
2. Authentic Christian preaching is both authoritative and tentative
3. Authentic Christian preaching is both prophetic and pastoral
4. Authentic Christian preaching is both gifted and studied
5. Authentic Christian preaching is both thoughtful and passionate
Stott concludes his article with this important observation:
Our adversary, the devil, is the enemy of moderation and balance. One of his favourite hobbies, I’m persuaded, is tipping evangelical Christians off balance. If he cannot get us to dny Christ, then he will be happy if we distort Christ. Instead I want to encourage the read to develop what I call B.B.C. – Balanced Biblical Christianity. Let us seek to combine these truths that complement one another, and let’s not separate what God has united. For it is in these paradoxes that authentic Christian preaching is to be found.
As we look over these five paradoxes, where do we see the balance missing today? Too much tentative preaching? Too much reliance on gifting alone? Too thoughtful without passion, or too passionate without thought? I suppose it is different in each culture, each denomination, each church. But it is worth the effort to think through where we might be becoming unbalanced.