Saturday, 22 May 2010


'Of course it is our aim to preach Christ and Christ alone, but, when all is said and done, it is not the fault of our critics that they find our preaching so hard to understand, so overburdened with ideas and expressions which are hopelessly out of touch with the mental climate in which they live. It is just not true that every word of criticims directed against contemporary preaching is a deliberate rejection of Christ and proceeds from the spirit of Antichriost. So many people come to church with a genuine desire to hear what we have to say, yet they are always going home with the uncomfortable feeling that we are making it too difficult for them to come to Jesus. Are we determined to have nothing to do with these people? They are convinced that it is not the Word of Jesus himself that puts them off, but the superstructure of human, institutional, and doctrinal elements in our preaching. Of course we know all the answers to these objections, and those answers certainly make it easy for us to slide out of our responsibilities. But perhaps it would be just as well to ask ourselves whether we not in fact often act as obstacles to Jesus and his Word. Is it not possible that we cling too closley to our own favourite presentation of the gospel, and to a type of preaching that was all very well in its own time and place and for the social set-up for which it was originally intended? Is there not after all an element of truth in the contention that our preaching is too dogmatic, and hopelessly irrelevant to life? Are we not constantly harping on certain ideas at the expense of others which are just as important? Does not our preaching contain too much of our own opinions and convictions, and too little of Jesus Christ? Jesus invites all those who are weary and heavy laden, and nothing could be so contrary to our best intentions, and so fatal to our proclmation, as to drive men away from him by forcing upon them man-made dogmas. If we did so, we should make the love of Jesus Christ a luaghing stock to Christians and pagans alike. It is no use taking refuge in abstract discussion, or trying to make excuses, so let us get backl to the Scriptures, to the word and call of Jesus himslef. Let us try to get away from the poverty and pettiness of our own little convictions and problems, and seek the wealth and splendour which are vouchsafed to us in Jesus Christ.'
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p.xxxii.