A friend of mine here at the seminary sent me this link to Justin Taylor’s blog regarding some comments made by Randy Alcorn about Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Last night, a few of us from the seminary discussed at some length the merits and demerits of having services which commemorate extra-biblical events, holidays, etc. This friend, who was involved in the conversation, was interested to know what I’d say to Alcorn’s assertion. Here’s the email I sent to my friend.
Great article…thanks for pointing it out.
Certainly pastors must be fearless in declaring both God’s Law and His Gospel. Having said that, the pulpit does not seem to be the place to expound on the evils of our day unless the matter is addressed in some fashion or other in the usual exposition of God’s Word. I realize that my previous sentence is a mouth-full, but let me try to explain.In my opinion, Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (or Earth Day, if we’re talking about a more politically liberal-minded congregation) are events which have no bearing on the celebration of the Church calendar. I realize that Scripture itself does not put forth a calendar per se, but I hope you will see what I mean as I continue to explain. The duty of a pastor is to preach Law and Gospel…repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ. If a pastor can do so while talking about the evils of abortion, then he should do exactly that, all for the glory of God.
Very often, however, the sermon becomes a time for riding one’s hobby-horse. It is, after all, a sin to pollute…it goes against the creation-care mandate set up by God to Adam in Genesis 2. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar and a fool. The willingness of some to encourage others in deliberate abuse of the earth God gifted to us is a symbol of God’s having given over people to destruction, as laid out in Romans 1:32.
Is pollution the same as killing an image-bearer of God? I don’t believe that it is. This does not, however, make pollution any less important. Instead, it makes abortion more important. Which brings me around to my initial point: the sermon time is for the exposition of the Word of God. Dr. Alcorn does not seem to understand this view of preaching and instead seems to focus on a more broad view of “being prophetic.” The prophecy that you and I as future pastors must be faithful in proclaiming is that which the Scriptures fearlessly declare: that God is angry at sin, tells us what He thinks sin is, and tells us that our sin is paid for by Christ. If it can be applied to our current situation (and it indeed can!), then we must proclaim with application those glorious, awesome truths.
But if one is simply getting behind a pulpit with no mind toward Law and Gospel and merely get up there to shake one’s fist or to mobilize one’s congregation to stuffing envelopes or picketing a clinic…then please do us all a favor and sit down. Telling people of the horrors of abortion without giving absolution in Christ and primacy to the Scriptures is an abuse of the preaching office and an affront to the pulpit.
However, having said all of that, I am curious as to how you took his comments and if you read the fuller article. I enjoyed hanging out last night a lot and hope we can get dinner together sometime soon.Your brother,Dave