(From Dave Black Online, Used by Permission)
9:18 AM Good morning, bloggerdom! Greek teachers love to debate the marks of a good sermon. Some say it’s perfectly okay to use Greek from the pulpit. Others (myself included) think it’s quite unnecessary. Sproul’s famous dictum (“A great preacher is like an iceberg: you see only 10 percent, but underneath you sense the 90 percent”) suffices for me. Last night I was listening to a sermon on the radio. As the speaker began to use Greek in his sermon, he excused himself by saying, “Greek is far more expressive than English” (which it is not). At one point he “corrected” the translation he was reading from, noting that “here the Greek has ‘He emptied Himself'” — which is precisely what many English versions have as well. Unreflective use of Greek can emasculate the message to the point of ineffectiveness. It can make you look foolish and pedantic, and can lead people to distrust the usefulness of their own English Bible translations. Not long ago I served as the editor (along with my colleague Allan Bevere) of a book called “In the Original Text It Says.” The publisher’s blurb reads as follows:
When you hear the words “in the original text it says” or “in the original text this means,” it’s time to be wary. Those words often provide the introduction to misleading information. But how can the hearer discern just what is correct and what is misleading? How can pastors avoid giving their congregations misleading information?
I could write at length about all of the exegetical fallacies unearthed in this marvelous little guide to exegesis. I must also mention the ground-breaking work by my friend Moisés Silva called Biblical Words and Their Meaning. Incidentally, such books can be marvelous ways to nurture younger Christians. But one thing is sure: Those who may know very little about the Christian faith will not be helped very much by over-exegesis.
8:12 AM When preachers use Greek from the pulpit, should someone be required to interpret (see 1 Cor. 14:26-32)? A preacher, for example, might etymologize. “The Greek word here [name the word] is composed of two roots [name them in Greek], the first meaning ____ and the second meaning ____; hence the word means ______.” The problem is that these definitions often do not comport with actual New Testament usage. The preacher has committed the root fallacy, exposed so long ago by Don Carson and others (including moi). Here’s the problem: Who in the congregation is able to check the accuracy of remarks like that? This is where Paul’s teaching about tongues in 1 Corinthians might have an application. You will recall that Paul requires the one who speaks in a tongue to provide an interpretation at the same time. Or else someone else would have to be present who could show the value (or non-value) of its worth for the edification of the Body. In this way Paul sought to rob the tongues-speaker of the subterfuge and mystery inherent in “unknown tongues” without discouraging initiative of the right kind.
Maybe this is a good reason to always have a Q & A session after we preach/teach. I’m told that even the Golden-Mouthed orator Chrysostom allowed questions during his sermons.
Just a thought.
(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian Archy, The Jesus Paradigm, Why Four Gospels? and Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?. Used by permission.)
From Dave Black Online:
Question for you. In Phil. 2:16 did Paul say we are to “hold fast to” or “hold forth” the Word of life? My personal preference is the latter interpretation because I think it better fits the context (“shining as lights in the world”). Plainly, however, Paul could have intended both meanings (thus making the expression a case of intentional ambiguity). His point, then, would be that while it is important, vital even, to hold fast to the Gospel (i.e., preserve and protect it from error), that is never enough. We must protect and proclaim the life-giving Word. This notion is consistent with everything we read in the Pauline epistles. Paul was no mean theologian, but he was every bit as much a great evangelist, perhaps more so. And, since he invites his readers to share his attitude in these matters, he implies that doctrine is never sufficient in itself, unless that doctrine is applied in practical ways. This dual emphasis upon the sanctity of the Gospel and our responsibility to share it with others is present again and again in Paul. To put it another way, a church should never be centered on itself. Every true Bible church is also a missional church.
(Dr. David Alan Black is author of Energion titles The Jesus Paradigm and Christian Archy as well as co-editor of the Areopagus Critical Christian Issues series. His material is used by permission.)