Rules for preaching

  1. Never use a “religious” word where a “secular” word is sufficient. (No: “God is our savior”; Yes: “God is our rescuer.”)
  2. Look up meanings of all Biblical words in original language and use translations that cover the most cases. (No: “Solomon built God’s Temple”; Yes: “Solomon built God’s palace.”)
  3. Never use any Latin term when an English equivalent is available. (No: “ordo salutis”; Yes: “order of deliverance”)
  4. Don’t pretend your survey of topics is a logical chain (No: “order of salvation”; Yes: “aspects of deliverance”)
  5. Don’t use synonyms to disguise repetition as meaningful content (No: “Our church believes teaching doctrine is important”; Yes: “Our church believes that teaching Biblical content about topics related to God and man is important.”)
  6. You are never called to tell your congregation that the Bible doesn’t really mean something it says.
  7. The dead theologians who have helped you, if they have really helped you, have helped you better explain the Word of God in a convincing manner from its own words; they have never wanted to help you promote their names to your congregations, except if they are currently in Hell.
  8. If you are a Protestant who knows better than to pray to the saints, you should know that they can’t protect you on the day of judgment if you preach their words rather than God’s.

7 thoughts on “Rules for preaching

  1. C. Frank Bernard

    “Anyone” and “the world” always mean everyone without exception, not without distinction, and never adults only.

    “Elect” means foreknown to nominate and choose yourself to believe in Jesus as rescuer (see Rule 1).

  2. Kerry Lewis

    A couple of thoughts on point one. I’m not a minister, and so I’ll stand corrected on what I’m about to say. But I grew up in Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism, which had its own set of “church language”. I can’t tell you how freeing it was when I became Reformed and was able to leave all the cheesy Fundamentalist language behind. There was a richness and beauty to traditional church language (Reformed or otherwise) that I found unbelievably refreshing. And I think there is something very important about the Church being a culture, and language serving as an aspect of enculturation. (I believe this applies to home/family life as well.) I’m not a two kingdom-person, and I’m a postmillennialist, and so I can understand how some might think I’m suggesting an approach that would buttress some of the things that come out of the two kingdom camp – the idea that we use one set of language within the church, and one without, because the two spheres never overlap. But I’m not suggesting that. As the influence of the church spreads through a culture, church language will overflow the church and spread as well. That has happened in the past – twentieth century America is a good example, or for a more recent example, the use of the phrase “I’m blessed”. Pagans will balk at church language because they balk at Christ (and for other reasons – bad church experiences, for instance). It seems to me that distinctive church language is inevitable. Now in an evangelistic setting I can see using secular terms to explain things, but (and once again, I’m not a pastor) I question that within the church setting, corporate or otherwise.

    I’m also concerned about what secular language is used. I just started reading “The Shack” today, because I interact with alot of generic Evangelicals, and so many have read it. I’m only on page 6 and am already at the “beating my head against a wall” stage. Among many other problems I have with those first 6 pages is the frequent use of (post)modern seeker culture buzz words: passion, deep (or depth), broken, etc. (I find that “flowy” words are currently in vogue – river, well, confluence, etc.) The hipness oozes off the page. It’s one thing to substitute “rescuer” for “savior”. But submerged in pop culture the way we are, it seems to me that there needs to at least be some limits on such an approach.

    Sorry for the novel, I was feeling inspired…

  3. Al Stout

    God is savior. Odd example for rule one…

    How would you differentiate religious language from the English translation they hold in their lap? You know, when they read to their children the first sentence of Titus? For example.

    al sends

  4. mark Post author

    Well, I think deliverer and rescuer are better because they don’t lend themselves to “religious” reductionism. Usually now when someone says “savior” in a non-religious context, it is because they are making a deliberately provocative claim. People actually think an analogy is being used rather than the real use of a word.

  5. Pingback: Rules For Preaching « Christ Mission at the Bricklight

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *