Homiletic Discipline

by Ken Myers

The vast majority of sermons I’ve heard, liberal and conservative, only take the text as a badly understood starting point for the pastor’s own creative work. They do not arise, as they should, from a true lectio divina, an immersion in the text which puts boundaries on what can be said about it by a preacher.

I do not think one is in the School of the Holy Spirit unless, in the labor of composition, he hears the Voice speaking through conscience (“with-knowing”) saying things like, “That’s not what it says,” or “They’re not ready for that—they may never be,” or “Better say it some other way,” or “You don’t know enough to say that,” or “You’re just showing off—do you think I’m impressed?” or “Your own critical faculties tell you the scholarly consensus among the commentators you incline to rely on is tendentious. Look at it this way and preach accordingly,” or “That’s what your sect believes it means, but they’re wrong for obvious reasons that you understand. Preach what they want to hear and you’re in trouble with Me, because that’s not what I said, and you know it—get in the habit of this, and you’re useless to Me because you will soon find it easy to ignore what I am saying, which it is your job to deliver unaltered,” or “You may not change the Word of God, but embellishment, however it appears, is a manner of change”—and things (usually admonishments) like this.

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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.

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