Those are the sobering words of William H. Willimon, a self-designated liberal preacher who offers a well-deserved rebuke of “conservative” preachers who, despite all their arguments for “connecting”, meeting “felt needs”, “contextualizing”, and (insert fadish buzzword here), have ended up sounding indistinguishable from liberal preachers. When a liberal preacher tells you that you sound like a liberal preacher, that is not to be taken as a compliment.
The primary responsibility of the Church is to proclaim God’s Word. Of the ministry of preaching God’s word, Martyn Lloyd-Jones said it well, “The Church is a special and specialist institution and this is a work that she alone can perform.” In other words, there will always be other agencies that will provide social aid, but there is no other institution that can deliver the Gospel. There exists no other agency whose chief purpose is to tell men to “fear the Lord and keep His commandments.” Whatever other obligations exist for the Church for its fellow man, if it refuses to proclaim of God’s Word it is a useless institution which can be replaced by a hundred or even thousand others secular institutions.
What is commonly thought of these days as being new and innovative is neither new nor innovative. It may have new flash and greater special effects, but it is not new. The argument we hear is usually along the lines that, Man is different than he was a generation ago. He is more sophisticated. He is more technologically savvy. Therefore, the Church must reach out to that person. We must meet the felt needs, the concerns, the struggles because he is struggling as he has never struggled before.
Such an argument could have been given 40 years ago, even a hundred years ago, and it would have been no different in principal. In fact, this argument has been used for the last hundred years. Social Gospel and other experiments have been around for a long time.
The problem is that the argument is always based on the same fundamental error. Man has not changed. He is still sinful, still seeks to overthrow its Creator, and still seeks to be a law unto himself. God has not changed. He still rules as Sovereign Lord, His holiness still demands justice for sins wrought against Him, and He still meets the deepest needs of those whom He has created.
The Gospel confronts the sin and cuts through all excuses and arguments and subjects all men to the authority of God. The Gospel was not intended to alleviate a poor self-image. It was intended to bring those who are made in the image of God to repentance, that they would become worshipers of God. And the only means of this life-giving message comes from God’s people who proclaim the Scriptures and preach salvation to men.
It is a difficult ministry. It is a despised ministry. It is not a ministry for anyone else but Christ’s Bride. She must be faithful to deliver the message of her Husband.
We need biblical preachers now, more than ever, to remind us that “He who sits in the heavens laughs” (Psalm 2:4) over our kings and kingdoms. God, not nations, rules the world.
Indeed we do. And I will echo Willimon’s sentiment that when a self-designated liberal preacher needs to soundly rebuke biblical preachers for not being biblical preachers, there is little more needed evidence that many preachers are in need of repentance and must once again desire to faithfully execute their primary responsibility.