Saturday, March 19, 2011

Preach The Word Primarily, and Not Primarily Your Theological System!

Justin Taylor quotes my man Charles Simeon and reminds me that all preaching is theological reflection and that it is impossible to not preach one's system to a certain degree...but at the same time a preacher should labour to let the text speak. Have you ever over-qualified a text, pastor?

Wise words from the English pastor Charles Simeon (1759–1836):

Of this he is [= I am] sure, that there is not a decided Calvinist or Arminian in the world who equally approves of the whole of Scripture . . . who, if he had been in the company of St. Paul whilst he was writing his Epistles, would not have recommended him to alter one or other of his expressions.

But the author would not wish one of them altered; he finds as much satisfaction in one class of passages as another; and employs the one, he believes, as freely as the other. Where the inspired Writers speak in unqualified terms, he thinks himself at liberty to do the same; judging that they needed no instruction from him how to propagate the truth. He is content to sit as a learner at the feet of the holy Apostles and has no ambition to teach them how they ought to have spoken.

Cited in H.C.G. Moule, Charles Simeon (London: InterVarsity, 1948), 79.

HT: JP through JT


  1. What does over qualify mean?

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    Great question, but do leave your name next time!

    By over-qualifying, I mean something like, preaching on a warning passage in Hebrews, and spending so much time talking about how true Christians can't lose their salvation, that you forget to help your people to feel the weight of the warning! The function of the warning is to effect perseverance (in the words of Tom Schriener). I'm all for qualifying, but when we over-qualify, we fail to let the text speak.

    Does this make sense?