Monday, April 06, 2009

Two cheers for proof-texts

This week, I'll begin teaching a baptismal class for children. Eight-weeks long, it's a Bible-marking class, loosely based on Steve Case's It’s My Choice Junior Baptismal Guide.

And yes, that means I will be using proof-texts.

I know, I know . . . real pastors don’t use proof-texts. Proof-texts are tacky. Proof texts are trashy. Proof-texts are pure eisogetic evil – because “a text without its context is nothing but a pretext.”

That’s what I was taught, anyway – and that’s why I only preach textual sermons, not topical.

Then again, that means I don’t talk much about doctrine in my sermons. I don’t talk much about the way the Bible develops and redefines certain themes.And if the truth be known, there are books I avoid because they don’t lend themselves to “textual” sermons – books such as Proverbs.

In short, there are some real advantages to the kind of preaching I do . . . but there are some disadvantages too.

That’s why I’d suggest there is a place in our ministry for proof-texts. Carefully chosen, they provide a snap-shot of what the Bible says -- a snap-shot that condenses a lot of information into one, short, easily-remembered phrase.

John 3:16 may be a proof-text, after all.

But it's still good enough for my class.

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