Preachers Are the Problem

Steven Paulson on preachers:

Christ was murdered in order to stop all preaching and election. The cross failed to do this, despite all human efforts, and now that Christ cannot be killed again, the next best thing is to execute the ambassadorial preacher. Sometimes blood is spilled again and we call it martyrdom, but more often it is easier to execute a preacher in a bloodless coup. If the preacher can be enticed to give something else than Christ as the proper predicate for the true Subject, the Creator, then a death occurs with no apparent violence. It seems like the perfect crime. Just predicate something other of God than Christ—you have the freedom to say whatever you want, do you not? Consequently, the largest offenders against God’s mission on earth are preachers themselves.

The formula for bad preaching is simple, you mix law and gospel and come out with a law that sounds like the gospel in its excessive religiosity like: “Grace means unconditional acceptance of your good creation,” or even “acceptance of your acceptance while unacceptable,” “Try, but if you fail God will not condemn.” “The Gospel is free, now all you need to do is join God’s mission and spread it.” “God is love, so there is no law” or “Christ stands for no barriers or divisions.” Most especially, bad preaching offers Christ as a principle or a sign that is supposed to influence you to become like him as measured by the law. …

Categorical preaching [instead] takes place in the “bright light” of the distinction of law and gospel. It understands that Christ is present as Lord of his church as the one whom we crucified. Otherwise, one makes of Scripture a self-justification: “Choose me Lord, it only makes sense!” Categorical preaching assumes that God’s Word always meets a bound, addicted, captivated will that refuses the truth that there is either Christ or not Christ, that no other hope or future exists.  (“Categorical Preaching,” Lutheran Quarterly 21:3 (Aut 2007), 289-290)


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