Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Listening to the 'right' preacher

One of the interesting points made on more than one occasion at the Calvin Conference held over the last couple of days was that Calvin was reluctant to have his sermons published because he preached them to a specific congregation at a specific time. He felt they were a very focused Word of the Lord.

Elsie McKee
spent a good deal of time in one of her talks discussing the way in which Calvin, in 1541, had translated his Latin version of the Institutes from 1539 not just into the French equivalent, but into a French that was explanatory of points that would have been obvious to the Latin academic reader, that changed examples and proverbs to ones more familiar to the unacademic audience, and that removed classical references where there might be difficulties in leaving them in.

There has been some comment made recently on other sites about the way in which people can now listen to the 'best' preachers on their Ipods, perhaps to the detriment of the local minister who preaches in their own church. But what came out of the Calvin lectures was that this is not necessarily the most healthy way to hear preaching. Your own minister should be - will be? - speaking to the needs of his particular congregation, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, will be encouraging his church to grow. The preacher on the MP3 will have been talking to a totally different congregation in totally different circumstances. This isn't to say that his preaching won't be used by the Holy Spirit to speak to you, but there is the possibility that it will speaking along lines that suit you, and not along lines that you need.

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