Thursday, August 22, 2013

Some Things Never Change: Origen on the Frustration of Preaching

From Gerald R. McDermott's book The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide:

But Origen was not just a theologian. Above all, he was a teacher of the Bible, with a pastor's heart. The pastoral challenges he faced sound remarkably similar to those facing pastors in the twenty-first century. Immersed n a culture more interested in undemanding pantheism than rigorous discipleship, many Christians gave scant attention to their own religion, were more concerned with pleasure and commerce, and even when in church wanted to be titillated with amusing stories rather than difficult strictures from the Scriptures. listen to an excerpt from one of Origen's sermons.
The Lord has entrusted me with the task of giving his household their allowance of food [Bible teaching] at the appointed time [Lk. 12:42]. . . . But how can I? Where and when can I find a time when you will listen to me? The greater part of our time, nearly all of it in fact, you spend on mundane things, in the market-place or the shops; some of you are busy in the country, others wrapped up in litigation. Nobody, or hardly anybody, bothers about God’s Word…. But why complain about those who are not here? Even those who are, those of you who have come to church, are paying no attention. You can take an interest in tales that have become worn out through repetition, but you turn your backs on God’s Word and the reading of Holy Scripture.
Origen complained that some stood int he corner of church and gabbed while the Bible was being read or preached. He lamented that although he urged the young men to study the Bible, he had wasted his time. "none" seemed to take his suggestion. (19-20)

Every pastor can resonate with Origen here. But keep on preaching brother!
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