Doctrines and Preaching

Now we know that we must only preach the Gospel. This provides a problem for those of us who feel the need to preach such doctrines as the Sabbath, State of the Dead, and Sanctuary. Some of us might give in to the temptation of sometimes preaching Gospel and other times preaching these doctrines. Such a temptation is understandable in light of the belief that we need these doctrines, but it is problematic in that it places some doctrines above Gospel.

Some preachers get around this by only preaching doctrine “sometimes” and emphasizing the Gospel above these said doctrines. they preach “doctrine” because they Adventist, but preach “Gospel” primarily because they are Christians. I wholeheartedly understand this decision in light of the fact that we must major in Gospel preaching, but I do not think that is our only choice.

Other preachers see the deterioration of our understanding of doctrines in modern day Adventism. In light of that, they emphasize the doctrines. You can hear their sermons as these few “true believers” preach discourses on the law and its importance. They preach the sabbath as the seventh day and meticulously calculate 2300 to come out to 1844. I understand this decision as well in light of the fact that we do have a message or a perspective that God has given to us to give to the world. But that is not our only choice either.

E. J. Waggoner wrote in Bible Studies on the Book of Romans:

Nothing can be added to the preaching of the righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ. What about these doctrines, as the Sabbath, immortality, etc?-Since the “kingdom of God and His righteousness” is the one thing needful…all of these doctrines are simply divisions, lines depending upon the one thing,-all summed up in the doctrine of the righteousness by faith. We can preach nothing else…

Waggoner is noting that you do not choose between Gospel and doctrines. No! You preach gospel totally. If you want to preach the Sabbath, then please show us how it is connected to Gospel. Show us how it is connected to the Good News. Please connect it to the larger framework of what God is “up to” in this world. Don’t just get up and preach the Sabbath as the seventh day and sit down. We must turn the page and move towards a so-what that tells us how these doctrines are connected. And dare I say, if you can’t connect the doctrines to Gospel, then PREACH ON SOMETHING ELSE UNTIL YOU CAN!

As preachers, let us take seriously our call to bring good tidings of great joy. Whether you are preaching Revelation, Sanctuary, Sabbath, or even State of the Dead. If you do that, then our preaching of this message will align with and join in with the messages that Ellen White identified as the beginning of the Loud Cry…

What Bind Does the Sabbath Get You Out Of?

A while back I wrote a post on “E. J. Waggoner as a Practical Theologian.” In it I quoted Waggoner who stated that “Every doctrine of the Bible is for our practical benefit, and should be studied for that purpose.”

Practical and Doctrinal Opposites?

waggonerThis is a very interesting thought for much of our preaching and thinking. Often we think of “practical” and “doctrinal” as being on two sides with a chasm in between. We cannot go over the chasm. So sometimes we preach “practical” sermons, and sometimes we preach “doctrinal” sermons.

Members long for “practical” preaching that will help us live faithfully in our daily lives. However, there is also a call for us to know “doctrine.” We are to gain a deeper awareness and understanding of the truths that hold us up.

We Cannot Forget Doctrine

We cannot forget doctrine. When we do we lose something of who we are. The deity of Christ is a doctrine that is hotly debated in some circles today. However, the doctrine is an important one in our Christian heritage. The doctrine of the Sabbath also has a call on us as Seventh day Sabbatarians.

And for this reason, sometimes we teach and preach doctrines, while other times we teach and preach themes of practical living. E. J. Waggoner comes in and asks us why do we have this dichotomy? Why not preach doctrine by emphasizing its practical relevance? Why not preach doctrine by emphasizing its importance in our daily living? Why not preach and teach doctrine in such a way that we will immediately see its practical relevance just as we see the practical relevance of the traditional “practical” sermons?

Lowry’s Question

In short, we ask the same question that Eugene Lowry, the homilitician, wrote in his classic preaching text The Homiletical Plot. Lowry asks of any doctrine before he preaches it, “What bind does the doctrine get you out of?” In short, how does this doctrine help me overcome a problem?

Certainly there are times for more didactic teaching, but all of our doctrinal preaching need not be in lecture form. If we truly are to teach the Sabbath more fully, then we must find a way to live out the implications of the Sabbath in our daily lives. To do that, we must listen to both Lowry and Waggoner by asking about the practical benefit of the Sabbath. Then we will be in a position to be the witness to the Sabbath that God has called our movement to be.