Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Inextricable Relationship Between Covenant Theology and Preaching

Here are some helpful thoughts on the relationship between covenant theology and preaching.  Over at the Greenbaggins blog, insights from Hughes Oliphant Old are being provided on preaching from the history of the church.  Old says, 
If Craigie is right, then we have in the covenant theology of the Pentateuch the rationale for the reading and preaching of Scripture in worship – namely, that it is demanded by a covenantal understanding of our relationship to God and to each other” (p. 29). If the people are in a relationship with God based on a covenantal agreement, then it is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of that relationship that the terms of the covenantal agreement be regularly read and interpreted to the people.
This statement is very helpful today, given the current distaste for preaching.  Many today would rather have a conversation or be lead in a discussion group, rather than have an ordained man (one approved by God-1 Thess 2.4) proclaim the truth of God in the authority of God.  Interestingly, there is currently a prominent "Reformed" theologian who has built his theological system around the notion of God as the covenant Lord, who has argued that there is no biblical defense of preaching as a monologue from a single preacher to a congregation who listen, and, therefore, preaching can come in the form of conversation or even drama.

The doctrine of the covenant, then, is inextricably related not only to preaching, but how preaching is to be accomplished.  The covenant helps us to understand that God has addressed his people and requires his people to respond.  God continues to address his people, and continues to address them through the covenant, so there continues to be a need for the covenant to be proclaimed - and that is what preaching is.  The covenant establishes the need for and provides for the right means for preaching.  We are not left to ourselves and our imaginations to try and figure out the best way for the covenant to be proclaimed and administered among God's church. 

This is not to say that God has not provided a way for the covenant to be displayed and played out before a congregation.  If drama you seek, then start practicing the sacraments.

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