Yesterday’s post touched on an important point – that preaching is not primarily about method. There is something much more significant going on in terms of our view of God, of His Word and as a result, of preaching itself.
Saturday’s post prompted a couple of comments. In the post I noted how I had run two very unprofessional polls. In one, preachers noted what would help them improve; and in the other, people were asked the greatest weakness in the preaching they hear. Almost no preachers selected the need for further training in biblical studies, while the runaway winner in the other poll was that the greatest weakness lay in the area of poor Bible handling. Hardly a scientific poll, but a discrepancy that does ring true, I feel. It is very hard to spot poor Bible handling in the mirror!
In response to a comment essentially raising the issue of personal spirituality, as opposed to issues of technique and practical matters, Lonnie made a comment that included this statement: “Wouldn’t handling the Bible better result in a closer walk with the Lord, for you and your listeners?” Let me quote my response and add a few comments:
I think there is a dangerous divide forced between Bible study and personal spirituality. I don’t want to hear from a preacher with great exegesis but poor devotional life, neither do I want to hear from a preacher with a great devotional life but poor exegesis. The two must must must go together. Good exegesis is not the only ingredient in spirituality, but the Bible must be a primary feature of genuine Christian spirituality, so good exegesis can never be an optional extra, or simply something left to certain “elite” teachers.
It is my conviction that all of us, not just preachers, can enjoy a delightful and very real relationship with God as we meet Him through His self-revelation in the Word. I find it frustrating when Christians give the impression that their walk with the Lord is going well, even though they don’t have much of a taste for the Bible (or conversely that their studies are diligently pursued, without much of a taste for God Himself). I find it frightening when I sense that a preacher doesn’t have both realities working hand in hand.
All this to say, in line with Lonnie’s comment, that I agree absolutely that better Bible handling is not just a matter of method or technique, but a feature of genuine spirituality and devotion to our Lord.