Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Authority in preaching/teaching

Lately I've been thinking about the place of authority in preaching and/or teaching. I have the opportunity to hear a variety of speakers at our Sunday worship gatherings, as well as other places. I am certainly not trying to knock anyone - we all have different styles - and I was never what I would consider a great speaker either. However, in my opinion...

...speaking "AS" an authority seems to be completely different than speaking "FROM A PLACE OF" authority.

I recently heard a sermon that, while it sounded good, and a lot of people thought it was really good, I was a little more... skeptical (see, I'm not just cynical). The speaker shared biblical references, but then he seemed to back up - or prove - all of his points from his own life. In a seemingly subtle way I felt like he was claiming the events of his life as the authority behind the truth of Scripture. I sense this now and then. People speak as an authority because they have lived out a biblical truth.

Now, it may be true that no one is more of an authority on their own life then themselves. However, I'd like to think that Scripture is Truth APART from our life experience. Yes, you may have life experiences that illustrate biblical truth, but that is not what deems it truth.

One thing I'd like to think I learned as I matured in my preaching was that it's easy to sound like an authority when everything is going well in your life. It's another thing to preach from a place of humility when nothing seems to be working out (in a worldly manner anyway). The truth of Scripture should not be diminished by our LACK of experience anymore than personal experience proves it.

Not to pick on young people, because they certainly aren't the only ones who do it, but I wish someone had figured out a way how to teach me sooner rather than later how to better handle the authority of Scripture. How to see IT as the authority, rather than myself. How foolish it is to think I "have it figured out," only to discover later that maybe I didn't have a clue what I was talking about.

Anyway, I guess my point is, I sense a trend among some young-ish preachers/teachers who seem to believe their lives hold the authority with which to preach (ie. being a preacher gives them some kind of authority), rather than what I believe is a healthier respect for the authority of God's Word itself. It makes no difference if I understand it or am able to follow it. It is what it is, so to speak.

I dunno, maybe it comes down to trusting the Holy Spirit; or trusting Its ability to read us, rather than our ability to read it. Meh... whatever.