Stott on unpopularity in preaching

So consistent is this tradition of unpopular preaching, both in Scripture and in Church history, and so contrary to the preacher’s natural inclination to be popular, and to comfort people rather than to disturb them, that we are prompted to inquire into its origin. We do not have far to look. The only possible explanation is that preachers like prophets believe themselves to be bearers of a Word from God and are therefore not at liberty to deviate from it…

It is in contrast to this acknowledged obligation to receive and relay God’s Word that the other tradition of false prophecy appears so despicable. Israel’s false prophets refused the discipline of submitting to revelation, and to the loss of liberty this entailed; they felt free to speculate, to dream their own dreams, and to concoct their own messages. In consequence, God said, ‘They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” Again, ‘Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat?” (Jer. 23:16, 28; cf. Ezek. 13:2, 3)

…Moreover, the choice between truth with unpopularity and falsehood with popularity regularly confronts Christian preachers. I wish each of us could endorse what Hensley Henson wrote just after he had been elected Head of Oxford House, Bethnal Green, in 1887, ‘I do not care one straw about popularity, for I know that it is generally purchased by a sacrifice of the truth.’ It is surely for this reason that Jesus uttered his warning, ‘Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.’ (Luke 6:26) He seems to have taken it for granted that, as with prophets so with preachers, popularity can be achieved only at the cost of integrity. Yet few church members or leaders seem to believe this any more, or at least to be willing to bear the cost of believing it.

John Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 305, 306, 309

About cteldridge

A beggar trying to tell other beggars were the Bread is.
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