The forum for teaching, teachers and teachers-to-be.

How much should a preacher rely on the thoughts of others when preparing a sermon?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • How much should a preacher rely on the thoughts of others when preparing a sermon?

    by Brian Croft

    All pastors are not tempted to preach someone else’s sermons, but most rely on the opinions, insights, and scholarly wisdom of others by way of commentaries, language tools, and theological writings. Let’s face it: we live in a blessed day as pastors. We have easy access to the thoughts of some of the most brilliant theological minds in history and can find them addressing just about any passage in the Bible. The temptation with access to these kinds of scholars is to seek their thoughts too soon before we have formulated our own thoughts about the passage we seek to preach. When should a preacher consult the insightful words of these scholars?

    I think the wisdom of nineteenth century English Pastor Andrew Fuller given over 200 years ago is still just as sound in our commentary-saturated time today as it was in his day when the resources were much more sparse. Here are Fuller’s words when he wrote them in a letter to a young pastor:

    The method I pursued, was, first to read the text carefully over, and as I went on, to note down what first struck me as the meaning. After reducing these notes into something like a scheme of the passage, I examined the best experts I could procure, and, comparing my own first thoughts with theirs, was a better able to judge of their justness. Some of them were confirmed, some corrected, and many added to them…But to go first to expositors is to preclude the exercise of your own judgment.[1]

    Pastors need to be grateful for the abundance of commentaries and theological writings about most any passage we would set to preach to our congregations. Allow them to confirm, even correct our own thoughts we have formulated in our own study, but guard from relying too much on them. Busy pastors can be tempted to laziness and preach these great men, instead of doing the hard work that allows the Spirit of the living God to work that text in us as a word that would speak specifically to our flock, and thus bring us to the place where we would preach it to our unique congregation in the power of Christ. Authentic, Biblical, Spirit-filled preaching where the preacher has been deeply impacted by the passage he preaches is just as needed today as it was in Fuller’s day. I am convinced Fuller’s counsel will take us and keep us on the right path to get us there in our own pulpits as he calls us to preach our own material.

    [1] Fuller, Andrew. The Complete Works of the Rev. Andrew Fuller with a Memoir of His Life by Andrew Gunton Fuller. 3 vols. Edited by Joseph Belcher. Philadelphia American Baptist Publication Society, 1845 Repr., Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle, 1988. 3:201

  • #2

    Well imo it depends on whose thoughts they are relying on, like say Spurgeon, DL Moody, CS Lewis, I would trust their opinions on any subject, to me its the concept of eat the meat and spit out the bones, even the greatest pastor may have some views that differs from yours or mine, it doesn't mean they're necessarily wrong because many things weren't made very clear.

    It is always good just to use their views and thoughts help you come to your own conclusion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit when making your sermon, it takes much prayer and starting to prepare on Monday for Sunday but it is never a bad idea to look back to great pastors for insight.

    May the peace of God be with you.
    Comment>

    • #3
      I prefer dead theologians to living ones. Dead theologians, and I mean the greats have had their doctrine stand the test of time. They have passed the highest scrutiny and criticism. Not to mention some people have fallen off their rocker in later years making false prophecies about the end times.

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by JSB View Post
        even the greatest pastor may have some views that differs from yours and mine, it doesn't mean they're necessarily wrong
        How humble of you. :)
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by William View Post
          prefer dead theologians to living ones. Dead theologians, and I mean the greats have had their doctrine stand the test of time. They have passed the highest scrutiny and criticism....I

          I'm not sure dead theologians are any better than living ones. The Roman Catholic Church relies on its «sages» and former Popes; they are not solely Bible-based but mix in a lot of tradition. Somewhat like a Christian version of rabbinical Judaism but not as bad.

          Commercially-prepared food isn't as nutritious as the food you prepare yourself at home. The same is true for spiritual food. Give it to me straight from the Bible.


          PermaFrost
          Comment>

          • #6
            Originally posted by PermaFrost View Post


            I'm not sure dead theologians are any better than living ones. The Roman Catholic Church relies on its «sages» and former Popes; they are not solely Bible-based but mix in a lot of tradition. Somewhat like a Christian version of rabbinical Judaism but not as bad.

            Commercially-prepared food isn't as nutritious as the food you prepare yourself at home. The same is true for spiritual food. Give it to me straight from the Bible.


            PermaFrost
            Hi PermaFrost,

            Have you read from some of the historical giants and stood on their shoulders seeing what they have seen? Have you ever studied from theologians such as Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Owen, and Author Pink? I never meant that just because a theologian had lived and died that they were correct. These men that I mention were pretty consistent in their theology both to Scripture and one another. Without these men, your own knee would still be bent and your lips upon the hand of the Pope. None of these men made failed prophecies.

            Originally posted by PermaFrost View Post
            Give it to me straight from the Bible.
            That's exactly what they do. These men followed the principal of Sola Scriptura. And I am not suggesting that any of the above men were infallible, but I am suggesting that if you studied the works of these men that you'd be pretty hard pressed to find fault. In contrast, I think you'll find a lot of living people today that have no problem blaming the Holy Spirit for their own lack of comprehension. That is, they are horrible at theology and given interpretation their defense is always the same, "I get my interpretation from the Holy Spirit". If you were to take the time to study Reformed Theology, one thing becomes very clear, and consistent, if you come up with a new novel interpretation that hasn't already been said or refuted in over 2000 years - it is best to abandon it.

            And to answer the OP, if I ever heard a sermon where a pastor went against the face of Scripture, creeds, councils, and previous Reformers, then that would be warning enough to stay away from them. I guarantee they would not stand the test of time, and needlessly said against Scripture in defense of their novel interpretations.

            God bless,
            William
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by William View Post
              I prefer dead theologians to living ones.
              I as well prefer dead theologians to living ones. We have 2000 years of great Christian thinkers to draw upon. Even without a deliberate preference for dead ones, just the number past generations, all other things being equal, would mean that of our favorite theologians, the dead ones should outnumber the living ones 40 to 1.

              I also prefer not to contribute to the celebrity of living people, so as not to contribute to their pride.

              Nor do I want to put someone on a pedestal they might fall off of (e.g fall away from the faith, such as Charles Templeton).

              I also think theology is a bit like rock music. They're not making much good rock music anymore. They changing times are not conducive to good rock music or good theology.

              But, of course, anyone who loves the absurd and toxic pop doctrines of our times isn't going to care much for dead theologians (after filtering out bad teachers) and their sober doctrine.
              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by William View Post
                Have you ever read from theologians such as Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Owen, and Author Pink?
                None of the above, except that I've glanced at Augustine's writings. Off the top of my head, the dead theologians I've read: Thomas Aquinas, Harry Ironside, Dwight Pentecost...there are others but I can't think of their names right now.

                Originally posted by William View Post
                Without these men, your own knee would still be bent and your lips upon the hand of the Pope. None of these men made failed prophecies.
                Well, it isn't a theologian's or an evangelist's job to prophecy, but I understand what you mean. The poor souls who are seduced by modern «prophets» and «apostles» are taken in due to their own ignorance of the Bible. I can thank the great reformers for showing the way out of ecclesiasticism, or dead religion. Unfortunately, there will be other Charles Taze Russels and Joseph Smiths to prey on those who hunger for ecclesiasticism rather than faith. Things should only get worse... We live in a biblically illiterate age where some Christians think that the Bible teaches reincarnation, or think that all religions lead to God. Some Christians even think that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife...!

                It is just ridiculous. The likes of Benny Hinn can spew any pseudo-Christian message and people just throw money in appreciation.

                But back to the matter at hand: Should a preacher rely on the thoughts of others when preparing a sermon? I would have to say, No! By all means, read what these men have written, consider what they have said but let the Word speak for itself.

                Do what the Bereans did and check the Scriptures daily. Preach the Word.


                PermaFrost

                Comment>

                • #9
                  I think pastors shouldn't rely on the thoughts of others when preaching. I've been in a number of different churches and have seen the damage what that can do. Take adventists as an example. Many of their pastors rely entirely on Ellen G White's writings [for material they use in their sermons] and some of her teachings are false. So when these pastors use her writings to preach, their congregation believes the lies and they march straight on towards hell. This is one reason why I'll never go back to a church where pastors don't get everything they preach from the bible.
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    The Bible is written on several different levels, with layers upon layers of teachings to be gained from the same passages, so I see no problem with a pastor or anyone else turning to outside writers for insight, but not in place of depending on the Word of God. Someone else might be able to offer a perception that hadn't occurred to you so as long as it's really there, in the Bible, that can be helpful. So to answer the opening question of whether a preacher should rely on the thoughts of others, my answer would be no, unless the thoughts he was relying on were the inspired thoughts of Bible authors. Nevertheless, Bible commentaries and and other Bible study aids can be very helpful, particularly when written by someone who may have more experience and training in the understanding and use of the Word. However intelligent and Biblically mature a pastor might be, in the couple of thousand years that people have been studying the Bible, there are those who know more about it, and it would be a shame to ignore their wisdom. The test, of course, would be to ensure that it doesn't contradict the Scriptures.
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      I'm fine with having external sources as a source of inspiration or to fool-proof ones arguments in the sermon, but when the preacher does so there is a slight danger of fallacy. Now a seasoned theologian won't have any problems separating truth from fiction, but if at some point they wish to quote someone verbatim it should be done in a manner that implies that the statement comes form an external source.
                      In that sense even a quote from poetry can be a acceptable part of the sermon (from my point of view at least) if it fits the theme and purpose of the sermon irreplaceably.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        There's a lot of arrogance from not only the Pulpit but within the congregation. Many Christians refuse to learn the historical arguments that took place within the church. Personally, I think most "radical" or new "novel" interpretations and resulting heresies are from people refusing to take into account 2000 years of historical church debates. Most new controversial doctrines are spin offs of classic heresies already condemned by various creeds, confessions, and councils. All theologians, pastors, creeds, confessions, and councils should ultimately point to Scripture as the authoritative source of doctrine. This is merely a principal or mini creed since the Protestant Reformation - Sola Scriptura.

                        I know our Pastors proof their sermons before being preached. They should align with Scripture, Creeds, and Confessions. If they don't, believe me, our church membership will be quick to point out any error.
                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          I consider myself lucky to have a priest that conducts sermons in such an entertaining but informative way. He even has his own power point presentations when he presents his sermons. He injects some humour here and there to keep us laughing and interested as well. Now, I don't know if he does use other priests' thoughts when it comes to his sermons. But from my point of view, it doesn't seem like it.

                          He seems to interpret the reading on his own and explain it to us from his own thoughts. And even if he does relate some story of another priest, he still connects it with his own experience. I think that's why there's lots of loyal people to our parish, he is the only priest to have ever made these many people to stay.

                          As far as using other people's thoughts or teachings, I think it's fine to some degree. Of course, you have to rely on your own interpretation and just use these other sources as references. You really cannot just use their teachings as your own. But maybe some anecdotes or quotations are fine as long as they're properly referenced back to the speaker. And it's better if you just use that as a side reference, not the entire basis of your sermon.

                          And that's the beauty of the internet, you can just search for certain things that are unclear to you. However, you still need to cite those sources and make sure that you still say these in your own words. As much as you can, rely on the bible for your sermon... Because really, nothing beats that, you won't even need other references when you have it.
                          Comment>
                          Working...
                          X
                          Articles - News - SiteMap