The Strange Effects of Preaching

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“Oh, what strange effects has preaching! Many a time the preacher is thought by the hearer to be personal, to be acquainted with all that is in the hearer’s life, and to be actually describing the life of the hearer, and the hearer winces under such personal description. Time and again men have sought me out as I have left my pulpit, and have said to me alone: ‘Who told you about my condition, that you laid it bare here to-day?’ And I have said: ‘Why, I never heard of your condition. No living soul has ever breathed a word to me about your condition.’ They said: ‘What then does it all mean?’ And I have answered: ‘It means that God knows about it, and God has guided His preacher, who said: “Lord, the preacher does not know what to preach, but thou knowest. Give him the message which thou wilt take and apply to the human conscience,” and God took the message and with it found the human conscience.’ What strange effects preaching has! One wrote me this from Birmingham, Alabama, the other night: ‘I heard you when you laid bare my case in that sermon. Somebody had told you all. I went back to the hotel, in your city, but could not sleep, and I took the train and I have reached Birmingham, and here in the hotel in Birmingham, at midnight, I have found Christ, and I am writing to tell you that your sermon was not in vain. I wonder who told you about me.’ Nobody told me about him. I had never before heard of him. I did not know he was in the audience. But the omniscient God knew he was in the audience, and sent the message and fitted it home to his heart by the Divine Spirit, who shows the soul the way from darkness to light.”

George W. Truett

The Scientist and The Preacher

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“In regard to science there has often been full and cordial mutual recognition. Some eminent scientists have not failed in reverence for Christian institutions, the pulpit included; and some preachers here and there have been skilled scientists in various branches. But on the whole it must be sadly admitted that the relations between science and the pulpit have not been as friendly and mutually profitable as could be wished. If the progress of science has at times suffered from the dogmatism of the pulpit, even so the preaching of a sorely needed gospel has been sometimes hindered or harmed in effect by the dogmatism of science. Preachers have been known to assail science in an unchristian spirit, and scientists have perhaps as often denounced and discredited preaching in an unscientific spirit. Pulpit ignorance of science has been fairly matched by scientific ignorance of the aims and realities of the pulpit. Narrowness and arrogance on both sides have done their full share of mischief. It is time for a better understanding, for mutual respect, for more cordial united service between these two great agencies for human good. Reverent science seeking hidden truth should surely be no foe to earnest preaching proclaiming revealed truth; and the herald of God’s saving grace in Christ should not be the enemy of the searcher after God’s wondrous thought in creation. There is room in God’s world for both the scientist and the preacher; there should be room in their hearts for each other.”

Edwin Charles Dargan