26 January, 2006

Follow That Grasshopper...He KNOWS Something!

There are very few preachers who preach good biblical sermons today. The Christian minister should preach sermons that are exegetical in nature and give the congregation an understanding of what the text means, its historical context, as well as ways in which to apply the sermon to living out the Christian life. This is the pattern that is found within scripture- the preachers of scripture open the law and gospel and give the hearers its meaning as well as its application.

Here are a few unbiblical ways in which preachers preach today. We discussed these in Homiletics and they are quite fun (although they should be avoided):
Hobby horse sermons:
The minister relates every sermon to their favorite secondary or tertiary doctrine. (Examples: Satan, the Millennium, the Nation of Israel, Evangelism, etc.)
Rocket sermons:
This type of sermon is begun from the text but quickly launches into space and goes off on tangents that no-one can follow.
Heart on the sleeve sermons:
The sermon is preached with such great emotion that the hearers are moved to great emotional highs or lows....but they do not know what the text was about.
Sky scraper sermons:
Patchwork quilt of entertainment and other things. They are one story piled on top of another. The text is never really developed but the stories and illustrations are piled high as the sky.
Grasshopper sermons:
A preacher takes a text and he finds a theme and then hops all through the bible making the listener try to follow in their Bibles. It is a string of texts that are connected with a few sentences. (A child with a concordance can preach like this).
Sherlock Holmes sermons:
The preacher wows everyone with the depths and the mystery of the Bible but never really tells you anything about what the text means.

I think that all preachers tend to lean in one way or another to one of these errors. As a Calvinist I have heard some of these from time to time. Although I believe in the doctrines of grace whole-heartedly (and would die defending them) I do not think that every page of the Bible is talking about unconditional election!

15 comments:

Mark said...

Yikes... I think I've heard all of those sermons. Sometimes all at once.

Nater said...

When I was in school, my pastor refused to preach on "topics" for this very reason. He always preached through entire books of the Bible because he felt like if he didn't he would end up preaching "Hobby horse sermons."

lloyd said...

I don't know which way I lean towards in my sermons. Maybe they're still too bad to count. lol. I like the idea of preaching through books of the Bible, or Catechisms in general. But, I don't feel that a pastor should be tied down to such. He should also have freedom to follow the Spirit's leading in taking up other topics or passages as necessary. Without having / using this freedom, my guess is that a minister would be at least partially negligent in shepherding his flock.

Droll Flood said...

"Christian minister should preach sermons that are exegetical in nature and give the congregation an understanding of what the text means, its historical context, as well as ways in which to apply the sermon to living out the Christian life. This is the pattern that is found within scripture- the preachers of scripture open the law and gospel and give the hearers its meaning as well as its application."
-Give me that text. I want to know it in and out so that in contemplating it on my own, I can apply to my own life.
-On a combining of the "Grasshopper" and "Hobby horse"
sermons:
Would this be the "locusT classicus"?

Stephen said...

That's a good list, Nate. Thanks for the warnings.

Where are you taking your class?

Penumbra said...

A child with a concordance? I'd like to see that.

I have yet to hear a proper "Jonathan Edwards" sermon: preaching in monotone apparently was very effective.

James w. Lanning said...

what do you mean, not every verse of the bible talks about election? are you some kind of arminian?

Mark said...

I'm not so sure that preaching in monotone ought to be our goal. (Notice how I say "our" as though I'm a preacher or something.) I understand the goal is to focus on the words and what's being preached, but at the same time we were given emotions as well as logic. Obviously we want to avoid the mindlessness of the charismatics, but we don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater either. 'Cuz he's the cutest widdle baby. Oh yes he is.

Ellie said...

Very interesting overview.Since preachers will continue to be human, we will continue to hear imperfect preaching. Inspite of this, seeds will be planted in the hearts and minds of those receiving the message.While it's good instruction when your learning to preach,keep in mind God is working even when our pastors get off topic.

Re the " mindlessness of the Charismatics" To suggest that Charismatics are without a mind is to suggest those with minds are without a soul. I encourage all to keep an open mind in regard to the Greatness of our God and the vastness of His Nations and Peoples.

Thanks to all contributors for the Planting of Seeds which will further His Kingdom, touching us Spiritually,Mentally, touching our Flesh, etc. Charismatically Your, Ellie

Anonymous said...

Well done Nate!

See as though I am not a pastor, but thinking of getting my M.Div. if am fearful of this topic. I agree with you but I wonder how many students understand the seriousness of it.

Isn't this year the year of the hobby horse on the Chinese calendar?

edwardseanist said...

I hear you Ellie, and understand where you are coming from, but coming from a whole line of radical charismatics I think that we should be very cautious when we say things like that. Sure, God can use all kinds of things to save people, but that does not mean that we are to have a pragmatic view of the church. The truth is, more often than not Charismatic theology is wrong. So I call my charismatic family to repent of thier bad theology and I call them to Christ. SOme of them are fully Pelagian in their soteriology. Many have a completely open canon. Some even deny the doctrine of the Trinity. I cannot endorse this way of thinking, and I dare not say that God endorses it. Remember, just because God can use a corrupt institution, does not necessarily imply that we should commend the corrupt institution.

In love,

edwarseanist

Nate said...

Friends

God's word makes it clear that he uses the foolishness of preaching to convert sinners to Christ.

If that is the case...it should be done as a fine science.

Marc Driesenga said...

Nate, let me first say thank you for all of your hard work on your blog. I have been blessed to drink deeply from its content. My brother-in-law Joe Schelling turned me on to it.

Secondly, this is a very interesting topic and one, I believe, deserves a bit more thought in modern churches today (as given relevance by the comments). As to NateR's comment about preaching through an entire book, what credibility do you lend to the statement "All Scripture is equally inspired, though not all of Scripture is equally inspiring?"

In other words, how would one preach through Leviticus or Chronicles? What's the point of reading through a list of names and places? How would one draw relevancy out of these passages to today's church? Or do we simply chalk these passages up to God's faithfulness through generations?

Again, thanks for the hard work and perserverance. I enjoy the thoughts and look forward to future posts and comments from "the remnant".

Droll Flood said...

"Obviously we want to avoid the mindlessness of the charismatics"

"Re the " mindlessness of the Charismatics" To suggest that Charismatics are without a mind is to suggest those with minds are without a soul."

"Sure, God can use all kinds of things to save people, but that does not mean that we are to have a pragmatic view of the church."

"Remember, just because God can use a corrupt institution, does not necessarily imply that we should commend the corrupt institution."

"God's word makes it clear that he uses the foolishness of preaching to convert sinners to Christ."

-The last comment really brings into sharp focus on what the means is which God uses to convert people. His Word.
Nothing else in all of our lives has the ability to convert men to God. Salvation is something 'foreign' to the first creation, and is not to be found in the creation itself, general revelation, in which we find God's hidden attributes clearly shown that all are without excuse, God's moral law on the hearts of all men, and His wrath for the wicked.

We may talk of God's peculiar providences in our lives, in how all of creation was decreed and orchestrated to the benefit of His own, but our salvation was given to us by means of His Word proclaimed to us; i.e. the foolishness of preaching of His Word.
Note: the preaching of His Word is a part of God's providence.

On corrupt institutions: God in His sovereignty, is pleased to have even Antichrists have some glistening of the truth, only to His praise, and those wicked mens' further condemnation. Like Edwarseanist said, we aren't to support these wicked institutions though. We are allowed to notice God's preservation of His truth like John Owen did so concerning the doctrine of the Trinity and the Romish 'church':

"To deny the Deity of any one person, is in effect to deny the whole Godhead for whosoever has not the Son, has not the Father. This only doctrine remained undefiled in the Papacy."

-Mindlessness in these comments meaning, not regulating thinking by God's Word. It is not a proclaimation of the lack of a mind, only a mind that is not subjected and regulated by God's Word.

That Guy said...

Heh, I thought we were suppossed to follow the rabbit!?