Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Preacher's Authority

They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Mark 1:21-22).

The difference between the teaching of Jesus and that of the scribes did not have to do with a difference in the possession of authority—it was not that Jesus had some while the scribes had none—but rather with a difference in the nature of the authority: the authority of the scribes was a derived authority while that of Jesus was a direct authority.

Specifically, the authority of the scribes was derived from the authority of the text of the Scripture to which they were devoted while the authority of Jesus was based on his fidelity to his direct relationship with the Father.

There are implications here for preachers who are modern-day scribes (in the best sense of the term) and who risk being modern-day scribes (in the worst sense of the term).

We preachers base our preaching on the biblical text; that is as it should be, since God has in God’s grace given us our Bibles as the objective standard on which to base and by which to test our words.

Still, does not real authority in preaching come from our direct relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? Must not the core of our preaching come out of that relationship for our preaching to be truly authoritative?

After all, is not the goal of our preaching to help people find and to grow in their own personal relationship with God?

And if we are not careful, do we not run the risk of communicating that fidelity to propositions is more important than fidelity to a Person?

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