Silly Christian Comments – Part Four – We just preach the Bible

16 02 2009

Perhaps you have seen them.  They are the congregations with those truly in depth descriptive names like “Faith Bible Church.”  These are the church’s whose claim to fame is that they “just preach the Bible.”  Yet the question ought to be asked is that really possible.  Is there truly no interpretive framework from which these congregations draw their teaching?

Their goal is a noble one.  To avoid eisegetical error and strictly exegete the text of Holy Writ.  Again, the question ought to be asked if this is actually possible.  Noble as a goal might be, if its nature is pure folly, what use can it be?  To understand why one can claim that “just preaching the Bible” is not possible, let us examine what conditions would have to be present in order for this to occur.

1)  No historical theological system can have influenced the teaching of such a congregation.

This condition is required due to the influence of historical developments that have taken place in Christian theology that have shaped our understanding and presentation of the faith.  The pastor of such a “Bible Church” must avoid any influence of systematized theological or run the risk of offering not merely the Bible but the Bible as understood through the lense of such a theological system.

2) No theological controversies could have taken place in the history of the Christian Church.

Theological controversies force the church to choose between potential interpretations of the biblical text.  It is through these controversies that the church distinguished orthodoxy from heresy as well as developed the many theological systems that make up the larger body of orthodox beliefs.  The diversity that is found within the church as the result of such disputes influences the way in which modern biblical interpreters understand the text of the Bible.  When coming to a fork in the road one must choose a direction in order to continue.  You cannot simply ignore the existance of such controversies and preach as though no personal decision is required in one’s teaching.  One must either own up to which side of a given theological controversy one ends up on or simply fail to reveal that fact, you cannot avoid the decision itself.

3) The pastor would have to be unaware of the existence of a theological system within their own thinking and interpretive work.

All I can say here is that I would truly worry about preaching coming from a pastor unaware of what has influenced his theological understanding.

Thus it might be an ideal to claim “we just preach the Bible,” but it is a reality that no pastor or congregation can live up to.

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