Tuesday, May 12, 2020

40. The Whole Counsel of God

The Whole Counsel of God: Why and How to Preach the Entire Bible. Tim Patrick and Andrew Reid. Foreword by J Gary Millar. 2020. [March] Crossway. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian nonfiction; theology]

First sentence from preface: This book was motivated by our love for the Lord and his church. In writing it, we were driven by our twin convictions that the church is established and grown by the word of the Lord, and that the Lord is rightly honored when the church sits under his word. While none of this would seem to be in any way controversial among evangelical Christians, the sobering reality is that a great deal of the Bible—perhaps, in fact, the majority—is never preached to the people of God, even in evangelical churches.

The Whole Counsel of God: Why and How to Preach the Entire Bible is written for a very specific audience. It is written for a) preachers-still-in-training, b) recently graduated and newly hired preachers c) preachers with some experience. The authors are challenging preachers to make a long-term plan for preaching through the whole Bible--all 66 books, all chapters and verses. They insist that preachers need a long-term plan, a serious plan, that will see them through decades of ministry--presumably in the same church, the same congregation.

The authors believe that preachers are not preaching thoroughly through the Bible, every book, every chapter, every verse. The authors think that churches need to be taught and "fed" from the WHOLE Bible. There isn't one verse of Bible that shouldn't be fed to the flock and expounded on. The churches--and their ministers--need the balance that only comes from believing, knowing, trusting, applying the whole counsel of God.

So part of this one is about the need to preach from the whole Bible, and why the Bible is so essential to the health of the church. The rest sets out to be more practical and applicable. How exactly does one go about preaching and teaching the whole Bible. How does one lay out--plan ahead, schedule--sermon series thirty or forty years in advance?!?! How does one balance teaching from the Old Testament and the New Testament?

How does a minister prepare his heart and mind to preach through the whole Bible? to understand it? to preach it and teach it in a way that it makes sense to his listeners?

I am a reader, a reviewer if you're being generous. I love, love, love the Bible. I love the idea of listening to sermon series that take me through whole books of the Bible. (I don't look for this in a physical church; I don't necessarily look for this from just one teaching ministry.) I do believe that expository preaching is the best kind of preaching. I do believe that the church needs the whole counsel of God. I do believe that the teaching needs to be biblical. Preachers not reading in their own ideas and beliefs into the text, but faithfully interpreting the Scripture for what it is.

I am NOT a preacher. This book was not written with me in mind. It isn't really applicable to me.

For better or worse, many denominations do not have one minister that is there for the duration: A man of God who settles down in one church for decades--two, three, four, possibly even five decades. This book almost demands such a situation of job security--a pastor knowing that he'll be in that one church for his whole career. Is this realistic? Maybe. Maybe not.

I say for better or worse. There are certainly ministers that I've had for eight years that felt like they were there for twenty. And there have been times where I genuinely wished my denomination was different and didn't move the pastor after three or four years. It's hard for a congregation when the Shepherd is changed every three to four years. Visions and directions change--progress potentially lost. Conflicts seem inevitable with change being the only constant.

But really, let's be honest, many denominations wouldn't really go for this expounding the whole Bible--all chapters and verses--because it wouldn't be politically correct and socially acceptable. Liberalism isn't even subtly sneaking into our churches and denominations. It's quite proud and out and wanting the majority of the vote. I believe this starts with seminaries and universities. I believe by the time a preacher reaches the church, his or her mind is set and determined not to take the Bible so literally as the very Word of God itself.

So this book faces several different challenges for readers.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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