Friday, October 14, 2011

Preaching - some mistakes and its future

I am writing from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where the Evangelical Homiletics Society is holding its annual meeting. Last year I was the speaker on: Connecting Preaching and Worship (and it has been encouraging to have some follow-up conversations twelve months later with people who seem to have remembered!) This year we have listened to Hughes Oliphant Old who has written a seven volume series entitled: Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. It took him over 20 years with the last volume VII: "Our own Time" published just last year.

He reminisced with us about some key personal events on his own Christian journey and emphasized some prime concerns from his writing, such as the vital importance of Scriptural authority and the reading of Scripture in worship, of worship as a covenanting experience where we remember the acts of God, and the role of rhetoric and oratory in presenting the gospel. Occasionally, he would drop in gems from the seven volumes with references to Chrysostom, Savanorola, Jonathan Edwards, Aimee Semple McPherson etc. as well as to current events like contemporary political oratory.

In the final session he was asked various questions, including what he considered to be preaching's greatest mistakes over two thousand years and his views of its future. I listened attentively:
MISTAKES - two great mistakes: 1) when preachers have lost moral integrity (though sometimes there has been 'healing' later; 2) loss of patience. "Patience and prayer are needed all the time...the North American church especially needs the discipline of daily prayer." How interesting to highlight impatience as a great mistake!
FUTURE - he commented on his own 'classical' approach with respect to bible, worship, prayer and said:" I believe that preaching will rediscover its tremendous 'classical' wealth - its biblical and theological wealth, its prayer wealth, its charitable wealth, its worship wealth and come back to the riches of God's grace."

This last comment really cheered me! I managed to speak to him at the end about my own vision of Preaching as Worship and a little about my journey of rediscovering worship wealth. Oh, Yeah! Thanks, Dr. Old.

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