I mentioned last week that application is one of the hardest tasks in preaching. It’s easy to introduce all kinds of heresies in application or to give people an endless list of to-do’s to complete, or become anthropocentric and make the application all about felt needs.
In The Drama of Doctrine, Kevin J. Vanhoozer suggests that the result of good theology is:
…not a set of timeless propositions, nor an expression of religious experience, nor grammatical rules for Christian speech and thought, but rather an imagination that corresponds to and continues the gospel by making good theological judgments about what to say and do in light of the reality of Jesus Christ.
The result, according to Vanhoozer, is the “missing link between right belief (orthodoxy) and wise practice (orthpraxis): right judgment (orthokrisis).”
In other words, we don’t need more timeless propositions or rules for how to behave. We need to be formed into people whose imagination conforms to Kingdom reality, so that our actions flow out of our values, which flow out of our beliefs.
How am I to respond to this God?
In light of who God is, in light of what he has done, in light of what he has said, what step in my life should I be taking in obedience?
How should I be seeing a current situation in my life?
What sin should I confess?
What attitude should I repent of?
How should I see myself before God?
What am I not acknowledging about God?
How should I celebrate this in my own life?
How am I to respond in worship?
Taizé services contain long periods of silent reflection in response to what is read or taught. Often the period of reflection is as long as what was said. It would be interesting to preach for ten minutes and then go into a ten minute period of silent reflection using questions like these.
In any case, I hope to do a bit of thinking and writing about how to preach to shape our imaginations and unfurl the reality of the Kingdom rather than to hand out more to-do’s. I’m interested in your thoughts.