After introduction to his big critique of speaching, Session 2 began movingly with Doug's own faith story, when a friend took him to see a Passion play, and he realized this story of Christ was to do with his own story. He emphasized how important it is for us to relate our own stories to God's narrative. Indeed, at one point he described preaching as the "narration of communal experience." Several times he also highlighted how church should be the place for questions and openness to others' stories. All the time we were nudging closer to the third session when we would be involved in progressional implicatory dialog ourselves!
He identified four necessary qualifications for undertaking this dialog.
1) Priesthood of all believers - realy means that through Christ we can all approach God with confidence. He warned about how easily we exclude others.
2) Trust people - he challenged why there is a lack of trust among ourselves, when God trusts himself to thousands of people using their first names throughout Scripture. Sure, being open to thers runs risks, but believers (of all people) should be willing to trust others out of conviction that all can contribute.
3) Role of pastor - he questioned the "expert" view that sets pastors apart. Telling us how Calvin wrote the Institutes aged 19-24, he asked how many churches would have even allowed him to serve in any capacity until he was much older.
4) Prophetic - he retold Nathan's confrontation with David as a classic confrontation which worked by implication. David got the point!
Again, some immediate reflections:
1. Does the priesthood of all believers displace the need for some to be called and gifted in specific leadership positions? (Eph 4:7-13). While not dimishing responsibilities of every member to take their part as members of Christ's body, are some - like preachers/ prophets/teachers - not identified for leadership?
2. Trust - perhaps this is missing in many congregations. I guess power struggles often mean people are wary of losing control and are unprepared to risk trusting others. The more I think about it, the more I recognize how much genuine trust among people demonstrates love and maturity. It is very significant evidence of spiritual formation (grown by the Holy Spirit) and it doesn't happen naturally. It really doesn't. So, people being willing to listen to God's word with openess together requires commitment to Scripture's authority and spiritual sensitivity to others.
3. The role of pastor always needs examination. No pastors should assert themselves over others, increasing passivityof the priesthood of all believers and smothering possibilities of body growth.
4. Prophetic - one of the most interesting aspects because prophetic preaching has authority only when grounded in biblical understanding of how God speaks through his messengers. Its transformational power (Isa 66:11) is often characterized by content and style, as it confronts people with social justice issues. It's rarely comfortable to hear, as it probes, disturbs and energizes people to be different. I like a quote from Walter Brueggemann - it is "the evoking of an alternative community that knows it is about different things in different ways...prophetic ministry seeks to penetrate despair so that new futures can be believed in and embraced by us" (The Prophetic Imagination page 111).
Giving empowerment to everyone to speak must never endanger the primary voice of God's word addressing humankind. Personal stories and individual's devotional responses have legitimacy, but should never be at the expense of God's word challenging and transforming his people in often difficult ways, should they?
Over 70 of us had gathered to hear Doug...after supper we prepared to put his ideas into action. More in my next posting!