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Today's Expositor's Quote is from James Montgomery Boice:

We have a pernicious doctrine in contemporary evangelicalism . . . which says that if a minister is average in skills and intelligence, he should take an average church. If he is above average, he should take a larger church. If he is really exceptional - if he is keen about books and simply revels in the background, content, and application of the Word of God - he should teach in a seminary. Ugh! I am convinced that those with the very best minds and training belong in the pulpit, and that the pulpit will never have the power it once had (and ought to have) until this happens.

When I say this I do not suggest that the pulpit should become a seminary lectern, though it would be better that than the sad stage prop it has become for many minister-entertainers. Obviously a sermon is not a lecture. It is an exposition of a text of Scripture in terms of contemporary culture with the specific goal of helping people to understand and obey the truth of God. But to do that well the preacher must be well-studied. To do it exceptionally well he must have exceptional understanding of (1) the Scripture he is expounding, (2) the culture into which he is expounding it, and (3) the spirituality and psychology of the people he is helping to obey God's Word. These understandings do not come merely from native abilities or mere observance of life. They come from hard study as the preacher explores the wisdom of both the past and the present to assist him in his task.

I would be overjoyed if the chief accomplishment of this chapter would be to turn some young scholar away from a life of academic teaching to what I am convinced is a richer and far more rewarding life of using that same scholarship to teach the whole counsel of God within our churches.

James Montgomery Boice, "The Preacher and Scholarship," chapter 3 in The Preacher and Preaching, edited by Samuel T. Logan (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1986), p. 91-92.

[I send out these quotes each week in the conviction that preaching is "the highest and greatest and most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called" (Lloyd-Jones). Perhaps you are one of those young scholars Jim Boice refers to. Do you really believe Lloyd-Jones' statement? Or have you fallen victim to the "pernicious doctrine," associating the greater prestige of an academic appointment with the greatness of the calling? What is your calling? (More on this next week . . .) - Coty]

[Many of you know that Jim Boice died in June this year at the age of 62 after a brief bout with liver cancer. He exemplified what he says in this quote: with significant scholarly credentials, he stayed in an urban pastorate for 34 years, devoting himself to ministry. Continue to pray for his family, the pastoral search committee, and the man God chooses to follow in the big footsteps of Donald Grey Barnhouse and James Montgomery Boice.]


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