Tuesday, May 18, 2010
James MacDonald on preachers having a high view of Scripture
James MacDonald shared this thought after being asked this question @Preaching Today: As you hear other preachers, what's the biggest thing you want to tell them about preaching with authority?
I would never use the term "preaching with authority," because I think that ascribes authority to the messenger, and the authority is not in the messenger. The authority is in the Word. I hope if you hung out with me a lot—granted I'm a strong personality, I know what I think, I can articulate myself, I'm not afraid to talk about anything—but I hope that if we spent more time together you would see a marked gap between the tonality of my preaching, where I'm speaking for God and representing him, and the tonality of my private conversation. It shouldn't be the same. The authority should be in the message, not in the messenger.
I never listen to another preacher and think to myself, How could he be more authoritative? What I sometimes do, though, is I listen to a preacher equivocate about God's Word, and I think to myself, What an awful business it must be to have to get up and teach a message from a Book that you don't even believe, or that has portions you don't believe. To me, if you don't believe portions of it, then really what good is it at that point? It's not supernatural, it's just a human document, so let's go golfing, right? I wouldn't want to spend my life preaching something I don't think is a message from God.
When I hear a preacher and his message sounds weak—not weak because it's a comforting or teaching message, but weak in that I can tell the guy doesn't have any confidence in what he's saying—I think, Low view of Scripture.
You and I have had several conversations about different movements and significant leaders within Christianity over the last 20 years. Some of them have knowingly or unknowingly deemphasized the centrality of the Word of God. No ministry that deemphasizes the priority and centrality of God's Word will last for long. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Word will not pass away." God himself is supernaturally preserving his Word in the center of the work that truly is his kingdom.
Where the Word is deemphasized, ministries are doomed. They're doomed. They're paddling toward the falls, and they don't even know it. They're not confident in God's Word. Their ministry is not going anywhere good. There are preachers that have been loose and free and cavalier with the explicit statements of Scripture, and they've been celebrated from coast to coast, but their ministries and their lives are in freefall—already, in our lifetime. God does not sustain such a ministry. "The eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that he may strongly support those whose heart is completely his." God is not going to strongly support someone who does not strongly support his Word.