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Tchividjian on Preaching

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently finished Tullian Tchividjian’s new book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything.  His book is full of great stuff.  Please pick up a copy and read it.  There is far too much to summarize, but let me offer two statements he made about preaching.

Moralistic preaching is stimulated by a fear of the scandalous freedom that gospel grace promotes and promises.  The perceived fear is this: if we think too much and talk to much about grace and the radical freedom it brings, we’ll go off the deep end with it.  We’ll abuse it.  So to balance things out, we need to throw some law in there, to help make sure Christian people walk the straight and narrow. (p. 50)

Preachers these days are expected to major in “Christian moral renovation.”  They are expected to provide a practical to-do list, rather than announce, “It is finished.”  They are expected to do something other than, more than, placarding before their congregation’s eyes Christ’s finished work, preaching a full absolution soley on the basis of the complete righteousness of Another.  The irony is, of course, that when preachers cave in to this pressure, moral renovation does not happen.  To focus on how I’m doing, more than on what Christ has done, is Christian narcissism (an oxymoron if I ever heard one)– the poison of self-absorption which undermines the power of the gospel in our lives.  (p.117)



Categories: Gospel, Preaching, Quotes
  1. Tom Hicks
    November 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Hey Chad, thanks for the quotations. Looks like a good book, but I’ll be honest and say that I always struggle when I read things like this. At first brush, I resonate very deeply with it. There is nothing at all wrong with the first quotation. But, the second quotation implies that preachers are never to do anything “more” than placard Christ’s finished work. Is that really true? The problem is that the Bible does “more” than that. For example, there isn’t a book in the Bible that champions justification more than Galatians. Christ’s finished work is placarded all over that letter. Thanks be to God. But, Galatians also speaks of “faith working through love.” It says “through love serve one another,” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Those are commands that Paul presses on the Galatians. He did “more” than placard Christ’s finished work. When describing the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians also provides a deeply challenging list of heart attitudes that all Christians should have and grow into. The letter tells us to “fulfill the law of Christ.” We are to obey a law in our own persons. It says, “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season will will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity let us do good to everyone.” I know you know these texts. And, Tchividjian knows them too. I’m sure he believes them and would teach them.

    My problem is with the implication that we are never to preach the imperatives of Scripture and press them in light of the glorious indicatives of Christ’s once and for all accomplishment. After all, one of the things that Christ’s work accomplished once and for all is the work of the Spirit in our hearts to conform us to His image. I agree that the law has no power to change us. But, does not the good law of God serve as our guide and rule of walking in faith in Christ? And, if it doesn’t, then why would a gospel-letter like Galatians seem to teach that it does?

    • Chad
      November 14, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Tom, always good to hear from you. I hear what you’re saying. The Bible also commands, exhorts, instructs, and guides too. From what I’ve read of Tchividjian, he would agree. As a matter of fact he has said often: imperatives minus indicatives equal imposibilities.

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