In the days of our grandfathers it was believed that the great truths of redemption should be preached every Sunday from every pulpit. There were doctrinal differences, of course. The Baptist believed in immersion, the Congregationalist defended the sovereign rights of the local congregation, the Episcopalian kept in mind his apostolic succession, and the Presbyterian insisted upon the Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ. In one important respect, however, they all agreed: the great message of the pulpit must be sin and salvation. Man is a lost sinner by nature, and he can be saved only by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. That was the central truth kept before the people by C. H. Spurgeon the Baptist, G. Campbell Morgan the Congregationalist, Charles R. McIlvaine the Episcopalian, B. B. Warfield the Presbyterian, C. F. W. Walther the Lutheran, and scores of others. Young men in seminary were told emphatically that preaching must be Christ-centered and redemption-centered.
Loss Of Anchor
All that was years ago. Then came a period when the pulpit lost its evangelical anchorage. After a few years of sensationalism, smart-aleck sermon titles and catchy rhetoric, many clerical faddists cast away the evangelical preaching of their forefathers and substituted life-centered sermons for Christ-centered ones. It was not a proclamation of the life to come. It was an analysis of the life that we are living today. A popular Scottish preacher, whose books of sermons were known to many in America, was one of the leaders of the new homiletical fashion.
The Saturday church page of almost any newspaper contained such sermon titles as: “On Facing Life in an Atomic Age,” “What to Do When Life Lets You Down,” “The Poignant Call of Life’s ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more