In a recent column in The Washington Post, Michael Gerson makes reference to “the moral vocabulary of a previous era.” He refers to phrases such as “a consciousness of sin” and “a real determination to reach holiness.” Then he observes: “When said in public, terms such as ‘sin’ and ‘holiness’ have the power to shock, like the choicer curse words once did.”

Reading that is a reminder to me of how much power is inherent in the words of our faith, words that we too often cast aside in our hunger for relevance and contemporaneity. Hard words such as sin, judgment, submission. Healing words such as redemption, grace, salvation.

I’m not suggesting we litter our speech with complex theological jargon, tossed out without explanation. However, I am reminded the words of Scripture carry within them a power that goes beyond my feeble communication skills—and, sorry, yours as well.

As we preach, let’s trust in the power of those rich biblical words, the ideas they represent, and the God who inspired them.

Michael Duduit

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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