Jared Wilson shares some profound wisdom from his latest read of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.
This coming Sunday is the anniversary of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, and many evangelical churches will be focusing on the value and dignity of human life over the next two weeks. To equip groups and Sunday School classes to defend life, LifeWay has developed Bible study sessions for The Gospel Project, Bible Studies for Life and Explore the Bible, which are available free at LifeWay.com.
No one, even Francis Schaeffer, who ventures into the world of ideas and is bold enough to publish, should be exempt from thoughtful scrutiny. In my profession we call it peer review. At the same time, they should be given a fair hearing. In Schaeffer’s case that is challenging, since he so often ventured outside the box, both in form and in content. Thus, to evaluate his work fairly requires a degree of generosity, though not excuses. Schaeffer was a pastor and an evangelist. There was a delightful informality to the way he treated major thinkers and trends. If he had occupied an academic chair in a major research university he most likely would not have been well-received. But he did not. He was a popularizer in the best sense. As an academic myself, I spend a good deal of my time with footnotes, carefully crafting my writing in order to conform to the highest standards of our science. And I am unashamed to do so. But I do sometime rather envy those who are free from such a model. Not because they are welcome to make mistakes; of course not. But because their style allows more contact with a whole range of people, including academics, but also including laypeople, young and old, working class and upper crust alike. Schaeffer was able to do that, and thus to have the influence that he did.
Grumbling about this cultural moment usually leaves us wistful for another.
And so, we yearn for the past, wondering what it would have been like to experience the growth of the early church, or join the church fathers in their affirmation of orthodoxy, or protest social injustice and doctrinal error with the Reformers, or minister during the great awakenings, or replay the fundamentalist vs. modernists debates of last century.
Oh, we of little faith!
When I first came to LifeWay, I resumed my pattern of overcommitting until I became overwhelmed. At first I simply informed my wife and supervisor on what I was doing. Eventually I wised up and started asking for their input before I committed.
Who can you consult about your schedule who has your best interests in mind?
There is a tendency though, while feeling the weight of preaching, to forget our need for help in preparation. Most preachers I know spend about 10 to 15 hours a week in sermon preparation in order to preach for 30 to 45 minutes. This means our preaching is about 5 percent of our preparation. This is a lot of work on the cutting board before serving up the plate. And the preparation is so important. We linger long over the text: meditating upon it, carefully exegeting it, discerning the author’s intention, wrestling through interpretation, and considering how it applies in our context. This work is as vital to the sermon as preparing food is to a good meal. We simply cannot overstate the importance and necessity of faithful, diligent study.
A favorite from the archives:
It’s one of the perennial problems of the Christian life:
I’m supposed to be a new person, but I don’t really feel like it. My struggles are still there. I keep sinning even when I don’t want to—am I doing something wrong?
This is a problem I’ve dealt with for pretty much my entire life as a Christian, and I don’t expect to stop having days when I go to bed thinking, “man, I really blew it today…” (Not that I want to do this, mind you; I just expect it.)