Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Preaching Reformed Theology?

I ran into this a while back from John Piper's Ask Pastor John section:

How can a pastor uphold good doctrine in a denomination that doesn't?

You certainly want to help your church get clarity. You don't want them to be confused. Probably staying there long enough and teaching in a faithful, biblical way will remove the confusion and replace it with conviction. And you should draw encouragement from other ministers, wherever you can find them.

I know that in England there are hundreds of faithful evangelical ministers. They relate in various groupings, like the Proclamation Trust, and others. And England is not a very big place.

But mainly, stay close to the Bible, stay close to God, and love your people. Teach them so faithfully that they recognize that what other pastors are denying is clearly a denial of Scripture, not just a denial of their pastor's opinion. The key there is going to be that, week after week, he doesn't just preach Reformed theology; he preaches the Scripture in such a way that they infer Reformed theology.

I am sometimes sent tapes from other pastors to listen to, to see what I think. I once listened to one that helped me realize why Reformed teaching doesn't make headway in some places. What he had done was take the first 20 minutes of his sermon to lay out all of the pros and cons about some doctrinal issue of Reformed theology, and only near the end did he even come close to the Scriptures. And I thought, "No way! Never in a thousand years will a church flourish under that kind of preaching!"

You don't start with doctrinal statements taken from the Westminster Confession—giving three reasons for them, three reasons against, and talking about all the historical controversies—and then tack on a text at the end as a proof text. You start with the text and you unfold it for the people so that they see, right there in the word, what is true. The Bible is shocking in what it says, over and over again, and you just need the Scriptures.

So labor in faithful exposition, week in and week out, loving the people, so that their confusion is taken away and their conviction grows. Then they will be your partners and advocates as you deal with other ministers in the area.
I believe that faithfully preaching the Word of God will lead to affirming the Doctrines of Grace. However, affirming the Doctrines of Grace will not necessarily lead to faithful Bible preaching. It's good to remember that no system is ever our goal, but seeing people become mature and complete in Christ is.

1 comment:

Willem said...

100% Agreed, doctrinal statements taken from the Westminster Confession can be used for reference only, similarly to what we do refering to commentaries from John Piper, John McArthur, Albert Mohler, etc, etc..

However, I do see a very distinct difference here, anchient doctrinal documents such as the Heidelbery Catacism, Westminster Confession, or Apastolic Greed has been utilized by many many generations of pastors and ministers, and therefore "proven" to be very accurate "explanations" of certain beliefs, ie doctrines.

I think it therefore quite sad in this "modern" age to just ignore these documents, and reject it as "traditional" and "outdated".

I find it quite hypocritical actually, to hear quotes from non Biblical writings or commentaries from Piper & McArthur instead, when we reject the more "proven" reference doctrinal documents.

What a beautifull statement of faith, as found in the Apostolic Creed, although not out of the Bible, absolutely Biblically based.

I believe in God, the Father, almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary,
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead and was buried; he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communions of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.