Foolish Preaching

The world and the religious within the church will criticize preaching when done biblically. It will be faithful to scripture, theologically aligned with orthodoxy, and place Christ and his Gospel front and center. How the world and the word view preaching is a distinct juxtaposition of wisdom and foolishness.

Foolish to the World

The folly of what we preach is the word of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-21). Preaching Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles (verse 23). The former demand signs while the latter seek the wisdom of this world. Is the sign of the prophet Jonah insufficient (Matthew 12:39)? What is the world’s wisdom except for folly with God (1 Corinthians 3:19)? Something greater than Jonah and Solomon is here!

Yet proclaiming the Gospel week in and week out is viewed as foolish by the world and worldly perspectives. How can you preach the same thing every week? Why would you point toward a God who bleeds and bids his people to eat his flesh and drink his blood? Aren’t meeting people where they are in life and tailoring your ministry to what the survey statistics reveal regarding people’s preferences more effective? A worldly mindset can never see the wisdom of preaching Christ crucified for sinners. A biblical perspective identifies the foolishness of omitting or relegating the Gospel.

Foolish According to the Word

God has chosen to bring salvation through the preaching of Christ crucified, and this “foolishness” is wiser than men (1 Corinthians 1:23-25). Paul renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways and refused to practice cunning or tamper with God’s word (2 Corinthians 4:2). He encouraged Timothy to preach the word because the time of itching ears was coming when people would not endure sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4: 3-4). This word is the sacred writings, which can make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).

According to the word, foolishness is giving people what their sinful hearts desire to hear. Folly relies on eloquence, human wisdom, and supplanting cross-talk with what scratches the ears of the culture. Juxtaposed to peddlers of God’s word are those who “speak in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:17).

If the Gospel is merely a footnote, then the sermon is a theological paper read aloud. Worse yet, bypassing the Gospel is a religious discourse masquerading as a sermon. A sermon is on target when people are offended by the freeness of grace. When Christ crucified for sinners is heralded, the early vineyard workers will always object. The elder brothers will always protest the extravagance of the Father’s love. Pharisees will interject “yes, but” to the good news.

Preaching the Gospel isn’t adherence to a paradigm of conservatism. Preaching the Gospel isn’t only expositing the text. Preaching the Gospel is heralding the good news of Christ crucified for sinners. It is the aroma of life to life and death to death (2 Corinthians 2:12-16). Preaching is foolish, but it’s a matter of being foolish according to the word or the world. The world will say the only thing more foolish than talking about blood and atonement is still proclaiming it over 2,000 years later. How beautiful are the feet of those who do (Romans 10:15)!

Photo by Mitchell Leach on Unsplash

Chris Dunn
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