I think that this point in Billings’ book is one that needs to be rehashed, repeated, and restated; especially for preachers and pastors, for two reasons. First, in the daily struggle to “produce” sermons, Bible studies, thoughts and devotions, there is a numbing effect that can slowly, subtly, and devilishly seize and freeze a ministers heart and mind. To have the minister resubmit to the Spirit-fueled transforming power of Scripture, would be revitalizing for the preacher, the congregation, and the larger Church.
Secondly, our ecclesial culture seems to be hogtied by the consumer trap. Billings rightly defines and describes this trap:
“In the face of so much nominal Christianity, American pastors, church leaders, and other religious professionals, can frequently become obsessed with framing the gospel in a way that reflects and confirms the experience of the hearers. Like advertisers, church and parachurch groups begin to “repackage” the gospel in a way that makes it attractive to potential consumers. In this context, the goal of Scripture interpretation is to make it “relevant”: that is, to take away the rough edges that may conflict with shared American experience and to make it appear useful for people who want a “value-added” life” (127).
Therefore, coming back to the Scripture, not as technicians and systems administrators, but as people needing God’s intrusive and transforming word, ministers are themselves changed, and then emboldened to help their congregations to “not allow experience to dictate how we receive Scripture so much as allow Scripture to reshape how we experience the world” (130).
More to come in the next post. But until then, if you haven’t yet, race right out and purchase the book.