Today's Expositor's Quote concerns proclaiming the gospel in today's postmodern world. D.A. Carson writes:
It may be entirely appropriate to engage in narrative preaching, . . . and to tell moving and thought-provoking stories; but in the postmodern environment, such approaches must be anchored in objective, propositional, confessional truth -- or the entire heritage of biblical Christianity will be sold for a mess of subjectivist pottage.
I am not for a moment denying that there is an affective element to gospel preaching. . . . Far from it. . . . But the affective element must spring from the play of truth on personality. . . . Gospel proclamation is, in this sense, an intellectual exercise; it is a truth-conveying exercise. There is a battle going on for the minds of men and women; well does the apostle know that in the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the whole counsel of God, men and women escape conformity to this world and are transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom. 12:2).
American evangelicalism is in desperate need of intellectual and theological input. We have noted that not a little evangelical television is almost empty of content. It is mawkishly sentimental, naively optimistic, frighteningly ignorant, openly manipulative. Let me again insist; I am not arguing for dry intellectualism, for abstract disputation. But entertainment is not enough; emotional appeals based on tear-jerking stories do not change human behavior; subjective experiences cannot substitute for divine revelation. . . . The mentality that thinks in terms of marketing Jesus inevitably moves toward progressive distortion of him; the pursuit of the next emotional round of experience easily degenerates into an intoxicating substitute for the spirituality of the Word. There is non-negotiable, biblical, intellectual content to be proclaimed. By all means insist that this content be heralded with conviction and compassion; by all means seek the unction of the Spirit; by all means try to think through how to cast this content in ways that engage the modern secularist. But when all the footnotes are in place, my point remains the same: the historic gospel is unavoidably cast as intellectual content that must be taught and proclaimed.
D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism, Chapter 12 "On Heralding the Gospel in a Pluralistic Culture," (Zondervan, 1996), p. 507-8.
[Are we marketers of the gospel to prospective consumers? Or are we heralds, proclaiming the truths of the faith once for all delivered to the saints? May we resist the powerful forces that want us to limit our proclamation to saying, "Hear how this works for me and my friends - Why don't you try it?" Instead, may we boldly cry out, "Thus says the Lord!" - Coty]
[Carson does the best job I have seen of developing a Christian response to postmodernist pluralism. Interestingly, he argues that many aspects of the postmodern critique of modernist thought have positive implications for Christianity. I highly recommend this book.]
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