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The title of this post refers to an exceedingly odd way of thinking from some folks who should know better.
I’ve found an increasing number of preacher friends and acquaintances who refuse to use any commentaries, study guides, or study books in their sermon and lesson preparation. Their position is that all we need do is study the Scriptures, and the Spirit will reveal to us what we need to understand. They often tell their listeners to follow the same approach – – just read the scriptures; you don’t need all those other men’s words, just God’s.
I sometimes wonder whether they really believe what they say. Somehow I find it difficult to picture them going into the pulpit or into the lesson session, opening up the Bible, reading from it, and then singing the invitation song without saying anything else. After all, as soon as we say any word beyond what’s written in the scriptures, we’re adding our own words to God’s and expecting people to listen to us tell them what we understand about the scriptures. If we really believe that all anyone ever needs to do is read the Bible and all the understanding they need will come, doesn’t it stand to reason that we’ll never preach another sermon or teach another lesson?
Charles Spurgeon, no slouch in the pulpit, had this to say about it: “It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. My chat this afternoon is not for these great originals, but for you who are content to learn of holy men, taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries. . . The temptations of our times lie rather in empty pretensions to novelty of sentiment, than in a slavish following of accepted guides. A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences.”
That’s my take on it, anyway. How ’bout you?