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Mohler: ‘Preach the Word then get out of the way’

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Preaching focused on reaching people “where they are” too often comes at the expense of denying the authority of Scripture, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. declared Jan. 27.
Delivering the spring convocation address on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., Mohler charged that the evangelical community stands at a crossroads much like that faced nearly 500 years ago by Martin Luther who led the Protestant Reformation aimed at eradicating heresy in the Catholic Church.
“What we need is a reformation in our churches,” Mohler suggested. “Our churches are so anemic, weak, doctrinally compromised and biblically illiterate. Like Luther, we can look at our congregations and see the worldliness of the church.”
Mohler, president of the oldest Southern Baptist seminary, located in Louisville, Ky., said there is a pervasive misconception in the evangelical community that the preacher must bridge a “great gulf” that exists between the days of the Bible and contemporary society in order for Scripture to impact people at the brink of a new millennium.
“The Word of God is going to do its work,” Mohler said. “When it is preached, you don’t have to build a bridge; you just have to proclaim the message. When we proclaim the message, the Word will build its own bridge.”
Calling for a return in the pulpit to “bold and declarative biblical preaching,” Mohler said preachers must stand unshakable on God’s promise to the Old Testament prophet Isaiah that the Word of God will not return void but will accomplish his purpose.
“This Word is so effective that there is nothing hidden from the sight of the Lord,” Mohler said. “There is nothing hidden from the penetrating power of this Word. It will, as the sovereign Word of a sovereign God, do sovereign surgery in the human heart.”
Citing the words of Hebrews 4:12-13, that the Word of God is alive and effective, Mohler said preachers do not need to try to improve Scripture while seeking to make it more applicable to their congregations. He condemned preaching that handles Scripture as “this static word” that needs something extra to amplify its effectiveness.
“There are far too many evangelical preachers who think the Word is some weak thing we have to assist,” Mohler said. “That explains why so (much) evangelical preaching is about stories and flapping air and not about the exposition of Scripture.
“You may look out there and see a congregation that looks like a bunch of dead stones, but it is not your business to try to excite them, to try to entice them, to try to entertain them; it is your business to preach the Word.”
Mohler said the preacher’s responsibility is simple: “Preach the Word and then get out of the way.”
“We live in a day when we are told what we need is to encourage the church to simply accommodate itself to a therapeutic mind-set and simply abandon the sufficiency of Scripture, but that is not an avenue open to us,” Mohler told a near-capacity Binkley Chapel audience. “There is no technique, there is no technology, there is no program, there is no innovation in which we should seek refuge; it simply is the Word we must preach.”
In other convocation activities, John Hammett, assistant professor of systematic theology at Southeastern, signed the seminary’s Articles of Faith, a summary of key biblical doctrines of the Christian faith.
Hammett, who was elected in October by Southeastern’s board of trustees to serve on the faculty, is a former missionary to Brazil.

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  • Lee Weeks