Saturday, June 24, 2006

Attempts at cultural relevancy: "devil's sleight of hand"

From Gary Lindley’s lecture on biblical theological preaching, Bridges and Ladders:

“Pastors are obligated to make their sermons relevant to the lives of their congregations. Pastors shall do this; they must do this—they must preach relevant messages!

“...relevant messages are the goal of every gospel minister, and that this goal is not merely conjured up or fabricated by the detractors of Biblical Theology, but is the goal set for us in the subordinate standards of our Reformed denominations...Relevant messages are what our congregations hunger and thirst for. They are what feed the sheep; they are what nourish the flock. But how do we make our messages relevant? What must we do to apply the truth of Scripture to the life of our audience?

“…we must produce sermons that are "SPIRITUALLY" relevant for our congregations…Sermons that accurately address the believer's situation in, and the unbeliever's situation outside of Christ. Anything less than this falls short of the "situational specificity" that is required by the gospel itself. To describe the congregation's situation in anything other than spiritual terms is to fabricate a lie.

“Attempts at cultural relevancy, attempts at building cross-cultural bridges, are the Devil's sleight-of-hand tricks, to get our attention pointed away from Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith. These are distractions that get our attention pointed away from the city whose builder and maker is God.

“…Preaching that prefers bridges to Jesus Christ has no relevance for anyone at all. For it ignores the true situation of the listener, it ignores the vertical dimension, it ignores the reality of the incarnation, it ignores the reality of heaven itself.” – Gary Lindley, Bridges and Ladders

Our destiny is to "arrive at the goal" of our deepest aspiration

"(In regards to the material makeup of the eternal state)… the category of time is exchanged for that of space when the final state is located in or identified with heaven. The ‘aionion’ (everlasting ages; crb) and the ‘ouranion’ (heaven) belong together and evince mutual attraction…the conjuncture was naturally brought about through the entrance of Christ into heaven in the course of historical development.

"the ultimate ground for this historical event lies far deeper. The primacy of the celestial sphere in the eschatological universe antedates as a constitutive principle every other reason. The structure of the two strata (heaven and earth)placed one above the other, with the higher stratum made regulative for the lower one in its laws and ideals, is of course, older than Paul. It underlies the parabolic and principially reveals itself both in the setting and in the discourses of the Fourth Gospel.

"And this scheme, far from being a purely speculative construction, is of eminently practical import. Is is the basis of what in devotional language we call other-worldliness. Other-worldliness neither with Paul nor elsewhere in Scripture is a negative state; it does not involve any morbid or distorted religious habit of mind. Every tendency or attempt to replace it by an earthly-oriented type of religion is productive or symptomatic of a basic dis­turbance in the very groundwork of the Christian mind. The Christian religion was born under the auspices of this primordial and irreducible contrast of the two worlds involving the trend of the pious from below to on high and their destiny to arrive at the goal of their deepest aspiration. Nothing can so ill afford a disavowal of its native milieu as historic Christianity. How easily to the mind of Paul the eternal and the heavenly melt into one may be gathered from such passages as 1 Cor. 15:47; 2 Cor. 5:5; Col. 1:5. “Heaven” is to our feeling, possibly even more than to the Apostle’s, a definition of what locally surrounds and encloses the realities and delights of the eternal state rather than a description of the content of these." -- Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology, pp. 297,298

"The New Testament is the sermon Christ preached on the road to Emmaus"

Rick Bierling writes:
"The New Testament is the sermon Christ preached on the road to Emmaus. The New Testament itself is Redemptive-Historical. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of promise. The New Testament is the fulfillment and explanation of the Old Testament.

"What's the point? The point is preaching. Preaching must always be the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ no matter what passage of scripture is being explained. Christ Crucified must always be the main point of every sermon whether the text being preached on is from the Old or the New Testament. Christ is the central figure of redemptive history and all of scripture speaks of Him.

"If a preacher does not preach the person and work of Christ Jesus for the salvation of sinners then that preacher is doing a disservice to his hearers and is starving their souls. The Gospel must be proclaimed every Lord's Day from every pulpit.

"The New Testament gives us wonderful accounts of actual sermons that were actually preached to actual people. These sermons are all pronouncements of promise and fulfillment in Christ. These sermons were bold proclamations of God's redemptive acts in history for the salvation of sinners in Christ Jesus."

This is why Paul knew nothing but Christ crucified among the Corinthians. Christ is the starting point and ending point of the entire text; thus, the hermeneutic is the homiletic.