Yesterday I suggested only a genuinely Trinitarian view of God can make sense of the relational nature of the Preaching Triangle. What would it look like with other Christian versions of God?
First, a God who is primarily and essentially alone can think only of Himself. The thread of self-glorification would sour the relationships and make the whole circuit somewhat duty oriented, the delight would be sapped. The preacher would be information-oriented and have a tendency toward a pressurizing manner as they preach.
At the same time, both the preacher and the listener would feel a tension between seeking the good of others in obedience to that command, while there is an under-tow of self-orientation in the God who drives the whole for His own self-honouring. Both preacher and listeners might be drawn toward pursuit of Christianity for self-oriented goals. There would probably be a different tone of relationship at every level – between the people and God, between the authoritian preacher and the dutiful listeners, etc.
Second, a God who is primarily and essentially unknowable would not make self-revelation the centre-piece of Christian ministry. Instead any preaching model would pay little attention to the Bible, perhaps using it to stir an experience in the listener that doesn’t have integrity with the actual meaning of the text. Perhaps it would be downplayed for the sake of the experience of worship so that the emphasis would be on some kind of encounter beyond revelation, rather than an encounter with a knowable God by means of His Word.
Has God made himself known, or are we to chase a mystical indescribable experience? If the latter be the case, then the Bible would diminish in the triangle, and the preacher would be both elevated and diminished at the same time. Elevated to the status of unique channel of spiritual power through which listeners might access the special experience. Diminished because the communication of God’s Word isn’t really that critical in this type of Christianity (so I’d expect the preacher to offer unique benefits other than good biblical preaching in order to maintain their own import).
These brief critiques of two common false views of God assume that a relational view of preaching is accurate. If either of these views of God were accurate, then the preaching triangle would be inherently different. Much more authoritarian and less relational in the first case. Much less content oriented and experiential in the second.
If our experience of preaching ministry is closer to the two critiques just offered, perhaps we need to revisit our view of God. Which Christian version of God is shaping our preaching ministry, really?