Preach the Word
By Robert L. Reymond
: Rutherford House
1.2 (Fall 1990) : 0-0
The author is a professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. This work originated as a series of lectures to ordained ministers and ministry candidates of the Church of Scotland at Rutherford House, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1986. Reymond's introduction argues,
Never has the need been greater for Spirit-anointed preachers who can stand in the pulpits across the world and with power "rightly handle" the unsearchable riches of the Word of God (p. ix).
He expresses concern over the subtle tendency of ministerial candidates to focus on the "practical matters" of the pastorate to the exclusion of the real priorities:
But in his zeal to become an effective administrator or personnel manager, the ministerial candidate must never neglect to acquire and to hone to a razor-sharp edge his biblical-theological skills, for it is this area of his training above all others which will provide him the content of his message and which will even determine in large measure the degree to which his preaching, teaching, and counseling ministry will be true to God's Word and taken seriously by those who hear him (p. ix).
In light of this concern, Professor Reymond's first chapter addresses the need for a scripturally based theology. Because revelation is "informational" by nature (pp. 14-15), the two testaments exhibit a "unitary wholeness" (p. 1), and the "Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God to men" (p. 3), a pastor "will have to be able to respond as his spiritual forebears did before him [to those who object to such a position] with careful research and accurate exegesis" (p. 3). In this regard, the author challenges two common objections: "religious truth will always be existential truth" (p. 3) and "human language is incapable of expressing literal truth" (p. 9). His detailed response to both objections is bold and clear: Scripture is propositional truth and is capable of conveying the intentions of God. He concludes:
This propositional or informational revelation the preacher must make the bedrock of the instructional aspect of his ministry if he would have a teaching ministry approved of God, for it is only as he teaches and preaches truth originating from God Himself that he can speak with authority and demand that his audience do what he says (pp. 14-15).
Several erroneous challenges underscore the need for a "rational" theology. The first is that "God's knowledge and man's knowledge never coincide at a single point" (p. 17). The second is "Christian truth will often, if not always, be paradoxical in appearance" (p. 27). Reymond's response to both objections may be reduced to the simple premise that revelation is eternally self-consistent or noncontradictory (p. 34).
"Every preacher will have either a God-centered or a mancentered theology" (p. 36). The author's third chapter forcefully appeals for the former. A God-centered theology affirms both the total sufficiency and sovereign control of God and the total insufficiency and, by implication, lack of control by man. This chapter responds primarily to the question, "If this [the above] is the case, men are neither free nor responsible agents" (p. 39). Because Clark Pinnock's position on this issue is objectionable, Reymond responds specifically to Pinnock.
The fourth and final chapter builds on conclusions from the first three: the Bible is propositional truth, conveying the very intentions of God; truth revealed is eternally self-consistent (non-contradictory) and is both systematic and God-centered. The need for a ministry to articulate the system of belief found in Scripture is the topic of this chapter. It may be summarized as follows: "Only when the church is taught what it is to believe, and obeys what it has been taught, will it manifest the glory of God and enjoy Him and His blessing as it should" (p. 74).
Reymond's book is well written and organized. It clarifies several areas of confusion that confront churches and pastors almost daily. The reviewer recommends the book particularly for those struggling with the nature of God's Word and the manner in which to apply it in the believer's life.
One typographical oversight needs correcting: "meets" (p. 4) should be "meet."