Some of My Publications
Community: Biblical and Theological Reflections in Honor of August H. Konkel
Pentecostal Theological Education in the Majority World: The Graduate and Post-Graduate Level. Vol. 1
Receiving Scripture in the Pentecostal Tradition: A Reception History
A Theology of the Spirit in the Former Prophets: A Pentecostal Perspective
"Emerging Homiletics: A Pentecostal Response" in
"N.T. Wright's Justification and the Cry of the Spirit" in
- A Question of Canon: Star Wars and the Old Testament July 4, 2023
- Concerning Contexts for Interpretation of Scripture February 19, 2022
- Hearing the Prophets on Justice: A Response April 27, 2021
- Proverbs 31 and the Virtuous Woman March 11, 2021
- Genesis 2.18 and the “Not Good” of Creation: Random Reflections February 3, 2021
- baptism in the Holy Spirit
- Biblical hermeneutics
- Biblical Interpretation
- Christ Jesus
- Holy Spirit
- literary interpretation
- Old Testament
- Society for Pentecostal Studies
- Trinity Bible College
Preaching Christ and Helping Marriages
Marriage seminars and sermon series are all the rage. Churches seem to offer a regular smorgasbord of options intended to strengthen the family, but are we doing what we were intended to do? Is it the local church’s responsibility to provide marriage counseling? Is it the church’s duty to detail the nature of inter-personal communication and conflict resolution?*
I know these questions are provocative. They are questions I wrestle with regularly. And I do so even as I am specifically offering a marriage series on Sunday nights (the “Love and Respect” Small Group study**). I do believe the local church must offer helps to its congregants and to the local community, but is it perhaps overly easy to fall into attempts at psychological answers in place of Biblical answers? I firmly believe the church (my congregation included) MUST strengthen families through every means available, but the question remains…where do we say that the Church MUST be the place where God’s Word is proclaimed and lived out and not simply another tool. Where the Scriptures function as more than a crutch to our marriages, but functions as the transformative, life-giving message of God’s Spirit changing and conforming us into the image of God.
It is far too easy (as Eugene Peterson pointed out in “The Pastor: A Memoir”) to fall into offering helps that are not the direct purview of the Church or the pastor. It is easier in some sense to speak to the psychological and social issues involved and offer such models for resolving conflicts, or improving the well-being of our congregants, but (while these can be incredibly beneficial) do such things belong to the direct responsibility of the local church? Can we offer such helps (as in some sense para-church outreaches), even while retaining our primary responsibility of preaching Christ crucified, risen and coming again as the grounds for our daily lives? I am persuaded that the good news says much about our relationships, but do not want to put undo emphasis where it does not belong. I guess what I’m asking is, should the task of preaching be to offer marriage seminar-like messages…or does it need to be something more? Messages where Christ is central and marriage peripheral.
If so, how do we maintain the centrality of the story of God’s redemption of creation in Christ, while still offering helps which do not belong centrally to that message, but may still be vital to the overall health of our churches?
* Disclaimer: I offer pre-marital counseling, marriage counseling, family counseling, have preached (and will continue to) on issues of the family and marriage (as a matter of following the text of Scripture we are working through and not as a separate series), and offer specific events targeting families, marriages, singles, and parenting.
** I highly recommend this series for its helpfulness.
Originally published by myself at bluechippastor.org on Jan. 21, 2013.