Last November, the students and faculty of Princeton Seminary were privileged to have Dr. Billy Graham as a guest speaker. In introducing his thirty-minute talk, Dr. Graham stated that the Church finds itself today in a “period of world Christian revolution.” He said there is much talk of renewal in the Church because Christians are failing to make a profound spiritual impact on society: we are beginning to lose power over the conscience and tone of America. Addressing us as seminary students preparing for the ministry, he sketched six areas in which the Church needs renewal, and the relation of the ministry to these areas.
First, we need “a renewal of authoritative proclamation.” Our seminaries are turning out men who are good at counseling and administration, but they are failing to turn out men who can preach, which is still the “major job of the preacher.” In a country full of people crying out to hear what the Bible has to say—people hungry for expository preaching—we are preaching over the heads of those in the pews. In our search for a new terminology (which may really disguise an attempt to impress each other), we are creating a vocabulary more difficult for the laymen to understand than the Bible itself. The thing that we do not realize is that “God will take his own Word and apply it by the Holy Spirit far more effectively than our own weak logic.” Dr. Graham observed that we have much clever preaching these days (of the kind that Paul deliberately turned away from—cf. 1 Cor. 1:17–25), and yet we forget that even the illiterate people understood Jesus.
Secondly, we need a “renewal of experimental faith,” an emphasis on the work of ...1
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