Friday, May 8, 2015

Jesus is the Only One Who Deserves to Monologue

When we look at Jesus Christ's earthly ministry we see quite a bit of teaching. While some of it contained back-and-forth conversation, others of it seems to have been mostly monologue in nature. The Sermon on the Mount is a good example of this.

I've heard Christians use the Sermon on the Mount as evidence for modern monologue preaching. The thinking is that "if monologue was good enough for Jesus it must also be good enough for us." This is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, Jesus was teaching people who were interested in him but were not yet his followers (in the sense of understanding the gospel and being indwelt by the Holy Spirit). Because of their lack of understanding, Christ sometimes needed to monologue.

When the church gathers today there's no need for monologue. This is because those present are all able to teach one another and should be doing so. All are indwelt by the Holy Spirit; each can edify another through personal instruction. Monologue is not necessary and can actually stifle body growth.

Second and more important, Jesus gets to monologue because he is God. He alone has a special status within the church. He has insight we could never have. He knows the standards he expects. He teaches the beliefs we should all have. I'll say it again: Christ is Lord and God.

No one in the body of Christ is Christ (only the Head is). None of us should teach as Jesus did just because he did it. Jesus did many unique things. Who are we to teach as he did as if we have the right to monologue? It's actually fairly arrogant thinking.

The church has no need for lecturing. Rather, the entire body grows together most effectively when all take on the responsibility of teaching each other. This form of mutual edification is more than suggested in scripture; it is what we should be doing. Through body life we all gain from the knowledge and experiences of everyone else in the group. Group knowledge is far more accurate and full than individual knowledge.

Jesus alone gets to monologue. We don't, nor should we.


Norm M. said...

Edification implies building. There's not much of that going on when 99% of the body is passive.

Eric said...


Well said.

The lecture model is utterly ineffective. How sad it is that it dominates church gatherings around the globe.

Tim A said...

Yes, the "Sermon on the Mount" is the first justification for lecture the word I always hear. One approach I have considered is that God never functions outside of his nature and character. Has God ever communicated anything to anybody that he did not desire to the core of his being for a full heart response from his people ASAP? I have seen no evidence that he ever has. Is there one time he only wanted to dispense the information with zero feed back? The God of the Bible is the most interactive, fully relational, mutual being in the universe. This reality is one of the things that sets us apart from animals as bearers of the image of God. Based on this understanding of our God, I don't believer there is any response Jesus would have shushed or ignored. Even the children were high on his receptivity list. God knows far more than we do "the closer the contact, the more powerful the impact." That is part of why he came to earth as a man.