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Pastors, Believe!

This column by Peter Leithart is a powerful call for pastors to believe in the effectiveness of God’s word, to be reminded of the spiritual realities at work in what they do. Leithart specifically is saying pastors need not entering the realm of politics in order to impact the world. This is true, but don’t miss the deeper point: too often the secular spirit of the age has so stunted our souls that we are tone deaf to the spiritual realities at work around us.

Pastors look for alternatives when they lose confidence in the tools of their trade. How many pastors believe they are stewards of the mysteries of God? Do we act as if our preaching participates by the Spirit in the creating and re-creating eternal Word? Do we believe that the Word is a weapon of the Spirit, as Hebrews says it is? Are we persuaded that the water we pour does wonders, or that a little ritual meal forms the social body of the incarnate Son of God, the assembly of God among the nations? Do we believe that the God with ears to hear is judge of the nations?

We need to ponder anew the true and lasting impact of word and sacrament.

In order to train pastors more effectively along these lines Leithart makes several provocative proposals including, “Don’t let anyone graduate unless he knows the Psalms—all of them.” I am still pondering all that he has said here, and as a Baptist I would tweak some of his water language (let’s not pour but plunge!), but we need to hear and consider this challenge. The Bible is clear that preaching, baptism and communion have real impact. We need to be reminded (perhaps re-enchanted) concerning the work which goes on these acts.

 

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