Thursday, June 12, 2008

Preaching

A friend (who himself is in a preaching ministry) sent me a quote from Scottish preacher James Denney:
It is impossible at the same time to leave the impression both that I am a great preacher, and that Jesus Christ is a great Savior.
Discuss.

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12 comments:

william said...

It's a good quote. Taking the quip apart (and thereby reducing its force) he means that it is impossible to simultaneously glorify oneself and Jesus. Implied is the idea that a truly "great preacher" would be one who only glorifies Jesus Christ.

Dave Miers said...

gold

Steve Carlisle said...

I guess to look at it Biblically, we might want to look at some of the 'preaching' by Peter and Stephen and Paul, I think they (esp Acts 2) would have been good preachers, and glorifying Jesus at the same time.

But maybe the salvation historical context rules them out as examples in this case?

Jim said...

I feel like i'm back at school with a quote and then the word "Discuss".

I love the quote and 'get it', but I wonder if its actually true.

Its really in the definition of 'great'.

What makes someone a 'great' preacher? Would it not be that he glorifies Jesus?

Anthony Douglas said...

No, the key here is the word 'leave' - whether it refers to a deliberate, active goal, or a not-particularly-intended consequence.

I've heard plenty of preachers doing the latter deliberately, and therefore inevitably achieving the former without actively seeking to do so.

The tricky part is that the verb can have two different nuances in this single use, because it has two predicates.

Anthony Douglas said...

Oh, and I suspect Jesus could do it ;-)

aussiekristian said...

I'd say, as Jim did, that it depends on what you interpret the word "great" to mean in the context. We know what makes Jesus and his work of salvation great, but what would we deem to make a preacher great, if anything at all?

Paul's words from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 come to mind. By no means was he a great preacher in the worldly view, but one who allowed the Spirit to work powerfully through what was at times awkwardness and fear, so that the faith of his hearers would rest in God's power rather than the wisdom of men. If we see our preachers as such, it will enable us to more faithfully recognise who is truly great.

sam said...

I'd say let the quote stand as it's intended! Surely, the intention of the quote is to encourage preachers to focus on glorifying Jesus and not themselves. Discussing the quote and has the danger of destroying the intention of it. Preach Jesus and not ourselves - 2 Cor 4:5.

Bruce Yabsley said...

My reaction was the same as Anthony's: you surely need to draw the distinction between working for an impression, and someone else forming such an impression from the phenomena.

Now, I can see how one might give an account of what's going on in preaching that makes other distinctions, or privileges other distinctions. But this distinction (about the way the "impression" is being "left") is surely worth making, and is surely at least relevant.

[I am not much of a one for slogans. Can you tell?]

Eun said...

John 3:30?

Pete said...

Happy enough with the comment, especially with the idea that it is the intention of the preacher being focussed on...

But can Jesus leave an impression of his great saving power even when the pastor/preacher doesn't intend him to?

Scott said...

All these coments are helpful, but as one who spews forth regularly, regardless of the ins and out of the quote, I get a great firm loving kick in the pants.

Which is good.