Thursday, December 23, 2010

What Does It Mean "to Me"?

Here's a good blog post dealing with the idea of expository preaching, that is preaching that strives to tell the listener what the Bible says, not simply what it means for them.

John MacArthur does a nice job explaining why it is not necessarily up to the preacher to make the Word of God relevant. He says, "it is [relevant} inherantly so, simply because it is the Word of God".

Here are a few snippits: I encourage you to read the whole article.

The question of what Scripture means has taken a back seat to
the issue of what it means “to me.”

This seems to be the way many Christians view Scripture. It is not enough that we are learning about what God has done in history. It has to be about us. But it is not about us. This is one thing Rick Warren said well in Purpose Driven Life- It is not about us. [Of course, he spends the next several hundred pages explaining how it IS about us and what we do...but I digress]

I have been guilty of this myself, but I recognize the problem with this type of Bible "study" and Scripture memorization. We must be careful to not "claim" promises as our own when the context seems clear that it is not. Because, frankly, my own selfishness likes to make things about me, whether it is or not.

White Horse Inn recently had a broadcast where they called this type of Bible reading, "Texual Narcissism". Here is more from MacArthur:
But now and then someone tells me frankly that my preaching needs to be less doctrinal and more practical.

Practical application is vital. I don’t want to minimize its importance. But the distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is artificial; doctrine is practical! In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine.

Too many Christians view doctrine as heady and theoretical. They have dismissed doctrinal passages as unimportant, divisive, threatening, or simply impractical. A best-selling Christian book I just read warns readers to be on guard against preachers whose emphasis is on interpreting Scripture rather than applying it.

Wait a minute. Is that wise counsel? No it is not.
He goes on to explain how if we don't actually understand what the text is saying, we cannot apply it's teaching to our lives. And that "application not based on solid interpretation leads Christians to all kinds of confusion." I would add, all kinds of spiritual weirdness.

How many times have Christians taken verses out of context and said "God told me" thus and such? Too many times. It has been said that the biggest threat to the faithfulness of the Church is not from without, but rather from within.

Be sure to read the rest of the article.



Kwame E. said...

Sadly, I fear that fewer and fewer self-described Christians these days care if/when they discover that their idiosyncratic theological beliefs contradict orthodoxy, including the defining doctrines of Christianity. Instead, they simply co-opt, kidnap and redefine historical terms and say, “I’m a different kind of Christian.” This represents the narcissism, lethargy and dumbing-down of the Western world as a whole, something which is increasingly becoming too sick to survive in any truly civil state of being.

D.B. said...

I agree with you, Kwame. And the "fun" part is if you dare point this out in someone's thinking, YOU are the one labeled as wrong, judgemental, how-dare-you correct my relationship with God...

Drives me a little crazy. :-)

Kwame E. said...

«I agree with you, Kwame. And the "fun" part is if you dare point this out in someone's thinking, YOU are the one labeled as wrong, judgemental, how-dare-you correct my relationship with God...»

Why shouldn’t you judge or try to correct? You’re a different kind of Christian with a different tradition and understanding of the Bible. Your tradition of Christianity supports and requires such things; plus you know in your heart and within you have the testimony of God that this understanding is correct.

How dare these people criticize you?