From time to time the call comes: the Christian preacher should “get back to the Bible.” A major reason for the triviality of much of today’s preaching, it is said, is the modern preacher’s failure to take the Bible seriously.
The preaching ministry must be the heart of the minister’s work. Although he cannot use his focus on preaching as an excuse for neglecting to counsel his people, to visit them in their homes, and to carry on the administrative duties of the church, still preaching remains his central function.
Protestants stand in the heritage of the Bible. This is indisputable. The problem comes in what follows. Perhaps my position leads me to be overly sensitive to anything that smacks of modern Marcionism, but the absence of the Old Testament in the thinking, talking, and writing of some Christians always astonishes me. Obviously, the New Testament is crucial to our faith. If Christian clergy were to catch the spirit of the New Testament emphasis on preaching and apply it to our own day, all Christendom would be enriched. But this is not the whole story. The Bible is more than the New Testament. How impoverished Christianity would have been all these centuries without the spiritual depths of the Psalter or the practical virtues of the Wisdom Literature. Let us turn now, however, to the Old Testament prophets, who were preachers par excellence.
P. H. Menoud, writing on “Preaching” in the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, contrasts (for the most part) the prophets with the New Testament. He feels that the prophets were not bringing news but rather were calling for a stricter obedience to the given law. In my opinion, this is a gross misrepresentation of their activity. It might possibly come from the account of ...1
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