Every preacher probably thinks their preaching is biblical. Even that really bad preacher that you once heard. Sadly, probably especially that really bad preacher that you once heard! To put it bluntly, we all have a tendency to be naive about our level of biblical accuracy. It is genuinely hard to know what you don’t know. There is never a guarantee that you will spot poor Bible handling in the mirror. So, what to do about it?
Well you can take courses from trustworthy instructors and see their feedback on your Bible handling. Or more immediately, you can ask someone who knows what they are talking about for feedback. (The only problem with this is that if you don’t what you don’t know, how do you know if they know . . . still, worth getting feedback, probably from multiple evaluators.) Some probing questions to ask them:
1. How diligently do I observe the text? Am I really careful to see exactly what it does say? Do I notice the key details? Do I represent what is actually said in the text precisely? To put it another way, am I diligent to preach this text and not jump from it to say what I want to say?
2. How effectively do I interpret the text in context? Am I obviously alert to, and influenced by, the context in which the passage sits? Do I seem to be genuinely familiar with the book as a whole? Do I show how the details of this passage make sense in light of the flow of the broader section in which it sits?
3. How familiar am I with the relevant historical and cultural background to the text? Am I preaching the text demonstrating a natural familiarity with the historical background, the cultural background, the geography, the “world” of the text? Or am I preaching the text at very long arms length with all the presuppositions of our individualistic, affluent, democratic, freedom obsessed culture firmly in place?
4. How alert am I to the author’s flow of thought? Does the sermon feel staccato and bitty, or do I show the flow of thought? Does it feel like separate thoughts bound together by a title, or does it feel coherent?
5. How accurately do I interpret the details in the text? The words, the names, the grammar, the dialogue, the details. Do I show a good level of precision when it comes to the analysis and close work in the text?
I’ll add another five tomorrow…