Yesterday I read in the book Faith Doctrine by Øyvind Andersen about how the Word of God according to Scripture is to be preached, and about the danger of three types of slippage in particular in the preaching. He calls the first form of slipping "Intellectual slipping", the second "Moral slipping" and the third "Ethical slipping".
Above all, it becomes the task of a preacher to clarify the difference between the Law and the Gospel in a versatile way, so that he preaches sin as sin, grace as grace, speaks of people as people and speaks of God as God. Where preaching does not stem from Scripture in this way, or where the preacher is not constantly trying himself and his preaching of Scripture, it will very soon g li out. And it may be worthwhile to look at some of the most common ways in which preaching is carried out.
In general, we must say that the preaching is easy to slip in the direction that the preacher is personally predisposed to. The disposition of the preacher's personality, his character, his interests and abilities, knowledge and life orientation, sympathies and antipathies, become decisive in which direction and in which way the preaching slides out. That is why the ways and directions are so many. But still we can say that in the main there are three main types of slippage in preaching: intellectual slippage, moral slippage and aesthetic slippage. We'll take a look at each of these
- Intellectual (intellectualist) slippage in preaching - self-centered and contempt for others
It has its reason that a preacher does not distinguish between what he knows and what he really understands by the enlightenment of the Spirit of God through the Word. Or to put it another way. Its main reason is that the preacher confuses knowledge with knowledge, and thinks that he knows (has experience of) what he really only knows about.
This kind of slippage occurs e.g. expressed in the fact that he speaks philosophically, eloquently, speculatively, oriented on the basis of fashion trends in contemporary literary, philosophical and scientific areas. It manifests itself in useless speculations about peripheral issues, e.g. controversy over genealogies, artificial use of parables, that one allegorizes (presents the case with transferred and some other and expanded meaning) historical events instead of proclaiming what has actually happened and in superiority in the way of speaking and acting in the pulpit .
Not least, one notices this kind of slippage in the preaching that a preacher looks down on and can even speak disparagingly of those who have a different opinion than himself , despite the fact that he knows they are true Christians. It is this preaching that the apostle warns against Timothy when he says: “Timothy, take care of what is entrusted to you! Turn away from the unholy, empty talk and the objections from the knowledge that is wrongly called so ! Someone has confessed to it, and has lost his way from the faith. - Grace be with you ” , 1Tim 6: 20-21.
In this connection, it may also be appropriate to remind how dangerous it is to become "modern". Then one soon enters into what Scripture calls mastery in speaking with wise words, whereby the cross of Christ loses its power.
2. Moralist slippage in preaching - Law and Gospel are mixed together, and the result is self-righteousness
This happens because the preacher lacks truth recognition, and therefore "slips out." And for that reason he begins to talk about duties and tasks, about demands and tasks, about intentions and decisions. And then he presents these matters as if the whole Christian life consisted only of feeling responsible for (faith) society, responsibility for the congregation, responsibility for the mission, or as if the Christian life only consisted of taking away sin, making serious of (faith) life, to become "100% Christian", and to be absolutely true and absolutely honest, etc. Of course, this also belongs in the preaching.
We do not want to say that a preacher is never allowed to use such expressions, per se. But it will be wrong if the Christian life is presented as if it consisted of such things. When e.g. such as is mentioned here is called "sanctification", then it is a testimony that the preaching has slipped out . If such a preacher can be said that he himself is probably caught in law bondage or in self-righteousness, and that he thus also catches others in the same. Therefore, it will be impossible for him to convey redemption or liberation for a single soul. Nor can he preach what the Bible calls sanctification.
The characteristic that the Bible gives of this kind of slippage is: “Those who seek to take good care of the flesh, they are the ones who will force you (by breaking the Law) to be circumcised, just so that they will avoid being persecuted because of the cross of Christ ” , Galatians 6:12. In this moralistic slippage we see it more typically than anywhere else: Law and Gospel are mixed together. Neither the Law is the Law nor the Gospel Gospel. And then the result is self-righteousness .
Aesthetic slippage in preaching - The preacher influences by playing on the audience's emotions
This is the case when a preacher slips out by starting to strike the emotional strings so that through the emotions he can stir in and evoke moods (in the audience), and that these moods should affect the souls (in the direction he himself wants) . It is amazing how far a preacher can slip in this direction, from using the most refined means, all the way to the most coarse-grained means. The preacher can then use everything from touching stories to purposeful suggestion (definition: a process in which one or more individuals' experiences and behaviors are influenced and changed under direct or indirect influence from outside) .
This aesthetic slippage is a disease of Christianity today. We also notice it on excessive use of music in the congregations and on the nature of music, on excessive use of sentimental or emotional means in speeches, on excessive Catholicizing tendency in the rituals in the churches, on mystifying (leading behind the light or deceived) church art, on reluctance against having them "heavy" at the meetings etc.
The reason for this kind of slippage is that a preacher or leader in Christian work does not have the ability to distinguish between spiritual and spiritual, and between natural human religion and that which is born of the Spirit of God. Here it is always important for us to be aware that we can not reach further in the work of God than we reach with the Word, and especially with the Law and Gospel.