Lacking motivation for anything productive (post-preaching experience, anyone?), I decided to dip into Thielicke’s Encounter with Spurgeon again. Guess how many paragraphs I had to read before being ready to offer another post (and that largely by quotation)? One. Check this out:
“Among the important elements in the promotion of conversion are your own tone, temper, and spirit in preaching. If you preach the truth in a dull, monotonous style, God may bless it, but in all probability he will not; at any rate the tendency of such a style is not to promote attention, but to hinder it. It is not often that sinners are awakened by ministers who are themselves asleep. A hard, unfeeling mode of speech is also to be avoided; want of tenderness is a sad lack, and repels rather than attracts. The spirit of Elijah may startle, and where it is exceedingly intense it may go far to prepare for the reception of the gospel; but for actual conversion more of John is needed – love is the winning force. We must love men to Jesus. Great hearts are the main qualifications for great preachers, and we must cultivate our affections to that end. At the same time our manner must not degenerate into the soft and saccharine cant which some men affect who are forever “dearing” everybody, and fawning upon people as if they hoped to soft-sawder them into godliness. Manly persons are disgusted, and suspect hypocrisy when they hear a preacher talking molasses. Let us be bold and outspoken, and never address our hearers as if we were asking a favor of them, or as if they would oblige the Redeemer by allowing him to save them. We are bound to be lowly, but our office as ambassadors should prevent our servile . . .”
Back to me again. Rather than repeating some of the gems in that paragraph, I have to ask why so many today are so quick to think only in black and white terms, to fail to differentiate within categories. If you speak of the importance of love, then you are tarred with the same brush as the “dearing” crowd mentioned above. If you mention the importance of tone, then you are sometimes considered a performance focused homiletician who doesn’t care about content. Let’s be bold and outspoken, proclaiming the gospel with great hearts for God, never talking the molasses that disgusts the manly, but loving people to Jesus.