May 24, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Ordinary Pastors
Part 4 in a 12-part series. For the series intro and index, click here.
Here’s something I’ve discovered: faithful proclamation of the message requires an unwavering commitment to unoriginality.
In his book Pastoral Theology, Thomas Oden writes this at the outset: “I hope this work will be as unoriginal as possible. This is the first time I have attempted to write an entire text with an absolutely clear commitment to unoriginality.”* Pastors, every sermon we preach must reflect the same thing: an absolutely clear commitment to unoriginality.
You see, if you don’t resolve to be unoriginal, you’ll be enamored by all that is new, trendy, popular, and supposedly original. If you don’t resolve to be unoriginal, you’ll be easily distracted by matters of secondary importance. Church structure and administration will trump gospel preaching. Your intelligence, rhetorical skill, or personality will take precedence over your faithfulness to the message of the gospel. If you don’t resolve to be unoriginal, you will lose sight of what matters the most.
So my friends, let’s maintain “an absolutely clear commitment to unoriginality.” Let’s be faithful to the charge to preach the gospel.
And here’s the thing: this is good news for ordinary pastors. You and I are ordinary, but by God’s grace we can do this!
Spurgeon once said, “Whitefield and Wesley might preach the gospel better than I do, but they could not preach a better gospel.”** Ligon Duncan and Mark Dever can preach the gospel better than I can, but they cannot preach a better gospel.
The “Ordinary Pastors” blog series is adapted from C.J.’s unpublished chapter by the same title and is scheduled to appear in the Together for the Gospel compilation book, The Unadjusted Gospel (Crossway, 2012). C.J. has contributed chapters in two other similar compilation titles: Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology (Crossway, 2009) and Preaching the Cross (Crossway, 2007).
* Thomas C. Oden, Pastoral Theology: Essentials of Ministry (New York: HarperCollins, 1983), 7–8.
** Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Exceeding Riches of Grace,” sermon preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, June 18, 1882, in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 28, 1882 (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1973, reprint), 339.