Pointers for Preachers

Theological and Other Jargon, Inviting Death, Stunted in the Spotlight,


A well-known English preacher now working in America, in a weekly column he writes for the British Weekly, recently called attention to this barbarous example of theological jargon he had come across in a mag­azine article: "The recollection of the life of Jesus Christ from the Pentecostal podium of a kairos moment of contemporary redemptive fact has, at length, perforce, to include not only the passion narrative but also mnemonic recall of those ped­agogical pericopes of existential ultimacies in the teaching of our Lord."

He then went on to mention Lionel Trilling's comment that people with the habit of flowery jargon will eventually be unable to say: "They fell in love and married." Instead they will say: "Their libidinal impulses being reciprocal, they activated their individual erotic drives and inte­grated them within the same frame of reference." "Say it with flowers" may be a good business slogan for the florist, but it becomes a bad habit in preachers. And when preachers make their flowery loquacity the occasion for high-flown words, they become pitiful. 

H. W. L.



"Where do we stand on . . . ?" is becoming a standard question in church circles these days. This question is either an expression of bewilder­ment or a confession of doubt. It is symptomatic of the malady of mass belief or of truth handed down. To what extent is the church the author­ized interpreter of the Scriptures, if at all? And to what extent is the individual Bible student bound to respect the Biblically established conclusions of the church? Is the encouragement of differences an invitation to anarchy? Individual study ignited the Reformation. But it overturned only those positions that were not anchored in Scripture. Truth dis­covered must always harmonize with truth already recovered. And light discovered must be pertinent, A free pulpit is a blessing if not misused. "Where do we stand?" must yield to "Where do I stand?" Truth, personally investigated, may be preached with great conviction. Truth taken for granted be­comes a recitation, an offering without holy fire.

A man has no right to teach what he does not believe or what he has not studied. Nor may he use the pulpit to expound views that are contrary to Bible-based beliefs of the corporate body. The first is hypocrisy and the second is reason. Let nothing extinguish the flame of personal investiga­tion, for only by its agency are the saints guided to "green pastures . . . beside the still waters."

There is a place for "new" light, though few peo­ple practice all the "old." Truth fought for sparked the great Reformation. It will do it again.

"Give me liberty." The Christian minister must guard his liberty with his life. The privilege of ex­pounding the whole Bible without fear is indeed a sacred one. That a minister is not "told" what to say and what not to say is a blessing to the church. To take unfair advantage of this privilege is a curse. "Private interpretation" is private privilege. The use of the public desk for the purpose of propounding one's peculiar views is not an exercise of liberty; it may be an invitation to death.

E. E. C.



These are days when even Christians can "go overboard" on publicity. Take the cases of prominent persons who accept some form of Christianity, then observe how the particular churches concerned see to it that the spotlight of publicity is turned on full. The Roman Church is adept at the practice,- but evangelicals are not exempt from the habit. We have had our own experiences too, which should teach us that new converts often cannot stand this kind of treat­ment. Whether they come from political, theatrical, or athletic circles matters not. Many personalities have not been able to stand up to the publicizing of their professional and private lives, and have slipped away from their high Christian professions.

A multimillionaire is but a poor sinner redeemed by grace when he becomes converted. He should be allowed to enjoy the blessing of falling in hu­mility before the cross of Calvary, there to become one of God's humble creatures. All men are equal there, and it is an offense to set some on a pedestal for the doubtful benefit of public recognition.

A prominent pugilist "became converted" and was widely acclaimed in secular and religious journals. A few months later he became front-page news because he was involved in a criminal assault case. A college athlete had been given similar publicity, but soon relapsed into profanity and obscenity, to walk no more with the church. What glory does Christ get out of all this overdone, un­balanced publicity?

Billy Graham is reported to make a practice of not publishing names of film stars, financiers, so­cialites, et cetera, who accept Christ. This is done on the New Testament principle that all men are sinners needing saving grace, and that the gos­pel is not advanced by glorifying man.

Perhaps there are lessons here for us to learn.

H. W. L.

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