Monday, February 20, 2017

Christ not self

An earlier post considered a brilliant article by Bishop Jensen that was published by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney’s monthly magazine, Southern Cross.  The post prepared a checklist for the pewsitter to allow the pewsitter to discern the worth of a sermon.
free and unattributable

The article held a single cringe-inducing piece of news that cannot pass without some consideration.  The news immediately made me ponder whether the Bishop departed from the somewhat relaxed mode of his ad-hoc survey to a direct approach of contacting the guilty preacher.  That news was by this part of the article:

“One man preached himself rather than the text”

Has the preacher forgotten that selflessness is one of the prominent attributes of his vocation? 

It is news that is insipid, repugnant and debasing.   

·        It is dull news in that the poor man is so absorbed in himself that he has lost touch in the wonder of the Gospel message.  He preaches himself when he can instead preach of the breadth and depth and length of God’s grace and love.  He preaches himself when he is under the Lordship of the son of God, Jesus Christ, who has dominion over this world.  He preaches himself when his own book is three score and ten while the Bible is timeless. The gospel is intended to bring the god of self to the ground.

·        It is repugnant news in that the poor preacher is licensed to hold to discipline, standards and values.  He should embrace a process of continuous education to hone his craft.  Also, it is repugnant in that it suggests that no-one is correcting the wretched man.

·        It is debasing news in that the poor preacher does nothing for his fellow preachers.  He perhaps abets the listener in characterising the church as hierarchical or distant or clergy-centred.  He perhaps abets the listener in a conclusion that the church has no relevance.


If the gentlemen is so absorbed that he preaches self, he will not identify himself in the Bishop’s indirect comment.  I hope that the Bishop contacts the gentlemen to gently and caringly guide him back on a useful trajectory.  With oodles of ordinands available the Bishop may find it suitable to saddle the gentleman with a freshly-minted Moore Theological College graduate who is wise to preach Christ first.


Note: A preacher that preaches self is no fault of the preacher or his Diocese.  Fault first lays with the parishioners.  By means of discernment the parishioners should suitably correct the preacher.  Pewsitter discernment is often sadly missing.

Note: all links good as at 21 February 2017, edited in response to feedback 24 February 2017


  1. I can't find the link to the original article that mentions “One man preached himself rather than the text”.

    Also, just after the quote, is that sarcasm? It sounds like "Really! In this enlightened age?" is sarcastic, but the rest totally ignores it's presence. It may be sincere, which would feel more consistent, but I didn't see it as such.

  2. I've refreshed this post to both i) link to the article: and ii)change language. I am very appreciative of feedback and welcome it on all posts.