On being ‘contemporary’ and ‘biblical’ by John Stott

“Imagine if you will, a flat territory that is deeply cut by a ravine or a canyon.  On the one side of the ravine is the biblical world, and on the other side is the modern world.  Between these two territories lies a deep gulf – two thousands years of changing culture.  Evangelical people like me live in the biblical world, on one wide of the divide.  We believe the Bible, meditate on the Bible, and love the Bible.  We are essentially biblical people.  But we are not so comfortable in the modern world, on the other side of the divide.  If like me you’re senescent, if not senile, the you probably feel threatened by the modern world.

Much modern preaching emanates from the biblical world.  Indeed, we wouldn’t dream of preaching from anywhere but the Bible.  But somehow this preaching goes up in the air but fails to land on the other side of the divide.  Our preaching is biblical but not contemporary.

Those who think themselves as liberal often make the opposite mistake.  They live in the modern world.  People listen to them because they seem to resonate with modernity, or post-modernity.  They are not chocked or threatened but the culture of the modern world – they have built in shock absorbers.  They read modern poetry, modern philosophy, modern psychology, modern science; they are moving with the times.  But in reality they have jettisoned biblical revelation.  They may be contemporary, but they are decidedly un-biblical.  Their preaching lands squarely in contemporary reality, but where it comes from, heaven along knows!  It does not come out of Scriptures.

… Evangelicals are biblical, but not contemporary, while liberals are contemporary but not biblical, and almost nobody is building bridges and relating the biblical text to the modern context.

{We need ‘double listening’} Listening to the voice of God in Scripture, and listening to the voices of the modern world, with all their cries of anger, pain and despair…

(From ‘Preach the Word’ (Edited by Greg Haslam) chapter by John Stott entitled “The Paradoxes of Preaching”, by John Stott)


One thought on “On being ‘contemporary’ and ‘biblical’ by John Stott

  1. Jitesh Patel August 26, 2008 / 10:50 pm

    Love this


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