By Dalton Key
Sometime back, I heard a preacher make the above statement. He explained by saying, “I never intend to preach another doctrinal or issue-related sermon. I believe in the motivational positive approach to preaching. ” He went on to say that he considered the preaching of such men as N.B. Hardeman, Gus Nichols, and Foy E. Wallace, Jr. “old fashioned” and believed these men did “more harm than good.”
This dangerous and snobbish attitude has become alarmingly popular of late. A Bible College teacher made a rousing speech in a south Texas community a few years back. He exclaimed, “I wish all Bibles could be removed from our pews, class rooms, and Christian homes for one year, because our people are beginning to use the Bible as a crutch.” On another occasion, a different speaker, who had once gone the Pentecostal route, threw his Bible on the floor and screamed, “If this old book is going to keep me from Jesus Christ, I don’t want this book!”
In the frenzied search for something “new,” many have rejected both the “old paths” of God’s truth and those faithful men of the past who have so ably defended these scriptural paths. Men may throw away their Bibles; they may openly berate and belittle those who have given their lives in proclaiming and protecting the blessed Book of God; yet the Bible is still true, the Word of God is still right; and the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation (Psa. 119:160; 33:4; Rom. 1:16). Moreover, the “more harm than good” supposedly done by men the likes of Hardemen, Nichols, and Wallace could not be harm they did to the cause of Christ or his church. The “more harm than good” would best refer to the harm they did, and would do now, if alive, to this subjective scourge of social evangelism.
The simple message of the New Testament Christianity has never been as popular with the masses as the fabricated fables of the religious snake oil salesman. Men will usually prefer having their ears tickled to having their toes stepped on. King Ahab much preferred the false testimony of the four hundred phony prophets to the truth as proclaimed by Micaiah, the outcast prophet of God (1 Kgs. 21). John the Baptist lost his head because of his “doctrinal, issue-related” preaching. No doubt he could have taken the “motivational, positive approach to preaching,” pleased Herod and his legalized mistress by so doing, and kept his head, But as B.C. Goodpasture once said, “It’s better to have a head like John had and give it as he gave his than to have heads like some people and keep them.” Did not Paul, that apostle of persecution, write, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ?” (Gal. 1:10) May we never become guilty of cheaply selling the truth of God for the laud and plaudits of men.
We must never hang up our swords. As never before, we must take up the “sword of the Spirit” that we may ably combat the “wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:17,11). Ours is a spiritual battle, “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). To hang up our swords in the face of such a battle would be nothing short of spiritual treason.
There is one sense in which all preaching must be alike; all preaching must be based, grounded and founded in the Bible. Nothing short of this will get the job done (Sword and Shield, Nov. 1990).
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 1, p. 15
January 3, 1991