Two Major Errors of Preachers

Vincent Kundukulam

The two factors that have caused derivative tendencies in the field of charismatic preaching are denial of contingent nature of Scriptures and reluctance towards the secular sciences.

The less formed and the more emotionally tended preachers take the passages literally and absolutely. They are unwilling to accept the contingent nature of revelation in the Scriptures. The subject of both revelation is God. The human mind does not possess a competent medium to translate the experience of the divine. Though God became man and thoroughly transformed the world the human mind is not yet endowed with the capacity to articulate a language proper to the transcendental experience.

What would help one to grasp the real meaning of Scripture is not merely the literal sense but also the metaphorical, mythological and narrative senses implied in it. Jesus has become angry when the disciples failed to take His words metaphorically. In Mk 8:14-16 we see Jesus told the disciples, ‘beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of the Herod.’ Given the disciples took it literally and looked curiously one another for not having bread in hand, Jesus scolded them saying: ‘Why are you talking about bread? You don’t still understand? You have eyes but fail to see. You have ears and fail to hear.’ Jesus wanted that His disciples learn the language of His discourses. Without learning the language of metaphor, symbol, story and analogy, we cannot grasp the transcendental message in the Bible. The message of salvation is to be primarily sought in the living Christ of history, in the experiences of the believing community and that of the writers, and not in the imagination the reader makes.

The second element that causes preachers to draw irrational intuitions out of Scripture is the reluctance towards the secular sciences. Scripture is a human endeavor as it is also a divine discourse. It is not fallen from the skies, but done here on earth through inspired human agents. When preachers give theological pastoral and spiritual interpretations, they should remember that like all other enterprises their reflections also take shape within the human cultural matrix. Subsequently like any rational enterprise scriptural interpretations must be open to the advance of human knowledge in different fields of research. An honest attempt is to be done to study the tradition of faith critically in terms of the scientific tools supplanted by the natural sciences. Unless the contemporary methods of rational inquiry are not applied, preachers cannot make the dogmas of faith relevant to the present.

Unluckily some preachers keep their distance from the secular world and secular knowledge. They separate the world into sacred and secular and creates dichotomous attitudes in the adepts. They forget the prayer of Jesus saying: “I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one … As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (Jn 17:15-18). If missio dei and mystery of incarnation are the prime models of evangelization the counsel of certain renewal groups in Kerala to hate all that is secular and non-Christian has to be obstructed. This does not mean that Christian faith depends upon the human sciences naively. The conclusions arrived through the analysis of human sciences have to be thoroughly examined. However to be pessimistic towards all that is secular is an attitude to be condemned.

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