I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 2 Timothy 4:1-2
In 1996, I enrolled as a freshman MDIV student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. God had called me into the ministry, and the next step on my journey was theological training. I chose Southeastern partly because of my admiration for President Paige Patterson and his strong stand on the inerrancy of Scripture. I knew I would get a solid education at SEBTS.
SEBTS had a storied history. Founded on the campus of Wake Forest University in 1951, the seminary was soon infected with theological liberalism (questioning, diluting, and discounting the veracity of Scripture) that quietly spread for many years. Instead of extolling the truths of the Bible, a growing number of the faculty seemed to revel in “educating” their students on the errors and fallacies of the Word of God. Thankfully, the course of the school was redirected in the late 1980s. By the time I arrived in 1996, the school was staunchly conservative in its theology, and every professor on campus was a solid, Bible-believing Christian educator.
My Old Testament Professor, Dr. Stephen Andrews, experienced the days of liberalism at SEBTS. He recounted a true story from a seminary chapel service that occurred in the 1980s. Tragically, the chapel speaker opted to forgo the Bible in order to tell a story from Geoffrey Chaucer involving a man named Chanticleer and his dung cow. My prof was incredulous and heartsick as he thought, what have we become as a seminary … replacing the Word of God for a dung cow?
Many churches today do the very same thing as was done at SEBTS in the 1980s. They jettison the clear command to “preach the word” in order to inject feel good fables and myths that appeal to a self-centered crowd. Our nation is filled with “dung cow” sermons that teach a hipper, cooler, more palatable form of inoffensive Christianity. Like the Lite Beer from Miller commercial reminded people, this type of preaching tastes great and is less filling … the only problem is it doesn’t save!
THE JOB OF EVERY PASTOR/PREACHER
The Bible makes it crystal clear that the job of every pastor is to preach the Word of God without stutter, stammer, apology, or equivocation. Preachers are not to tickle ears with myths but step on toes with truth. The Scripture reproves and rebukes before it exhorts. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, The Bible is profitable for teaching (it tells you what is right), for reproof (it tells you what’s not right), for correction (it tells you how to get right), for training in righteousness (it tells you how to stay right).
I believe we desperately need pastors to throw away the “dung cow” sermons and start preaching the Word of God and let the chips fall where they may. The main job of any preacher is not to be funny, or creative, or ingenious, or popular. His main job is to be faithful to preach the word and speak the truth in love. One day, every God-called pastor will stand before the Lord to give an account of his ministry. Were we faithful to speak the truth of His Word and take a stand for righteousness (like Noah did), regardless of popularity or public opinion? Were we willing to face the consequences if need be to get the unadulterated message out to a lost and dying world … or did we opt for a more palatable Christianity Lite? Did we jettison the Word in favor of Chanticleer and his dung cow?
I am often reminded of the prayer the apostles prayed when threatened by the Sanhedrin to quit preaching Jesus, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence” (Acts 4:29). May that be our prayer in these dark days in which we live!
Dr. Jeff Schreve
From His Heart Ministries
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Texarkana, TX