Sunday, March 22, 2009

Impoverish your audience: don’t read this

Con Cambell has an excellent blog series going on preaching evangelistic sermons. It's been helping me.

His last post really needs to be heard. Which is a shame, because evangelists shoudn't need to hear it. His advice? Exegete the text!

Often we have the mindset of, "Oh, I already know what John 3.16 is all about." Don't be so sure. Here's Cambell's list of things the preacher could discover about the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee (Luke 18.9-14) through exegesis, but probably won't without it:

1. The setting is likely one of the two daily atonement services at the temple.

2. The Pharisee does not ask God for anything, but his prayer is really a declaration.

3. Because the setting is likely an atonement service, there are other people present, which means that the Pharisee's prayer publicly denounces the tax collector (v.11).

4. Because the setting is public, the tax collector's standing far off emphasizes his shame (v.13).

5. It was extremely rare for men to beat their chest in public, and they would only do so in an instance of overwhelming grief (v.13).

6. The tax collector asks God TO BE PROPITIOUS toward him (λάσθητί μοι, v.13).

7. And thus, the tax collector is justified in direct connection to propitiation at an atonement service (v.14).

His conclusion:

I think that those things—which can only be understood through really working on the text in its historical and literary context—bring the passage to bear in a way that few evangelistic preachers would allow.

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