The following is not an uncommon occurrence for me while preparing to preach…
Not always, but there are certainly times of struggle either to make sense of the text and/or to make sure I really believe it. As the Puritans liked to say, make sure to preach to yourself before you preach to others. Really believing the Word of God is more difficult than determining its proper meaning.
Then God brings light, many times much light, and I can’t write fast enough.
It is one reason I don’t like to preach every week. The process of preparation is best if I have months to mull and consider a text. I want to stew on it for a long time.
I take many notes and ask many questions. Commentaries come at the end to make sure I am in the ballpark of sound exegesis.
All this is one reason why I wish lead pastors preached less frequently. It would be better for them and for the congregation.
Jordan Peterson is a firebrand, but that does not mean everything he says is incorrect. When it comes to the Bible he certainly makes errors. I do find it both entertaining and even educational listening to him.
In the video below you can see the dynamic of “simplistic questions, complex answers.”
I have some reservations about The Benedict Option (my review is just below this), so I would not agree with the full thrust of Kaplan’s prescriptions, but there is much here to consider.
I certainly agree with Kaplan’s closing comment: “Christians do not have to diminish doctrine in order to thicken the practices that can enable them to flourish as a minority—on the contrary, they’ll find that practices deepen it.”
It was the Roman Catholic philosopher, Peter Kreeft, who posted this on his Twitter account:
“I never saw a fruit-bearing Christian who was not a student of the Bible. So few grow, because so few study.” -D.L.Moody
D.A. Carson in Themelios, April 2017:
The words are in quotation marks because they are borrowed from Mike Ovey’s column in a recent issue of Themelios.
This is the stance that insists that all the relevant biblical passages on a stated subject are exegetically confusing and unclear, and therefore we cannot know (hence “imperious”) the mind of God on that subject.
The historical example that Ovey adduces is the decision of a church Council during the patristic period whose decisions have mostly been forgotten by non-specialists. At a time of great controversy over Christology—specifically, over the deity of Christ—the Council of Sirmium (357), which sided with the pro-Arians, pronounced a prohibition against using terms like homoousios (signaling “one and the same substance”) and homoiousios (signaling “of a similar substance”). In other words, Sirmium prohibited using the technical terms espoused by both sides, on the ground that the issues are so difficult and the evidence so obscure that we cannot know the truth.
Sirmium even adduced a biblical proof-text: “Who shall declare his generation?” they asked: i.e., it is all too mysterious. Nevertheless, the orthodox fathers Hilary of Poitiers and Athanasius of Alexandria assessed the stance of Sirmium as worse than error: it was, they said, blasphemy. They decried the element of compulsion in Sirmium’s decree, and insisted that it was absurd: how is it possible to legislate the knowledge of other people? But the blasphemous element surfaces in the fact that the decree tries to put an end to the confession of true propositions (e.g., the eternal generation of the Son).
Practically speaking, the claim of dogmatic ignorance, ostensibly arising from Scripture’s lack of clarity, criticizes Scripture while allowing people to adopt the positions they want. This art of imperious ignorance is not unknown or unpracticed today.
I am currently reading the penetrating book, Out of the Ashes by Anthony Esolen. Esolen, who is Roman Catholic, mentions the example of Thomas Aquinas College. Most of us are not Roman Catholic, but here’s how to learn:
A real historian writes to one making claims to be one:
About ten years ago I noticed that two things spontaneously dominated my prayers. And they continue to do so to this day.
The first is a “Lord Jesus come” prayer for God to set everything right.
The second is a sort of lament/complaint to God “reminding” Him how difficult it is to live the Christian life.