Whilst at theological college, we had an array of visiting speakers come and lead our meditations at the Lord's Supper service. For us Anglicans, there was always some nervousness whenever a Bishop or other senior clergyman turned up. What would he be like? What new fad would he commend? Would we have to undergo the inevitable wince as heresy was slyly mixed up with the heavenly manna on the Lord's table? Thankfully in most instances, we would get general platitudes and more often than not the visiting Bishop would do their best to present themselves as a friend unto Evangelicals.
Now that I'm an ordained clergyman - with hopes of soon making it to Archbishop, I've been wondering if this is the sort of thinking is really all that helpful when evaluating the ministry and preaching of our elders, presbyters, bishops. Rather than thinking a Bishop, Minister, lay preacher, Cornhill apprentices is "good" because their sermon was "ok" and wasn't heretical, shouldn't we be applying a more biblical standard? Verses such as Ezekiel 3:16-21; Acts 20:26-27; 1 Timothy 4:16; James 3:1
Perhaps one way of visualizing this issue personally is to consider the question below that one of my college tutors posed on this subject of how to assess a preacher...
If I had full pastoral charge of a congregation and was therefore responsible to give an account to God of the nurture, nourishment and protection of these 50 or 500 people in their life as disciples of Jesus, would I, when taking a three month sabbatical, cheerfully call in X to be my stand-in pastor-teacher, confident that the congregation would be outstandingly taught, prayed for, and discipled under his ministry?
Or, the same thing put differently consider this quote from Doug Wilson
"Miss Realistic is quite a seductive little thing, but she always has ugly babies. When the cancer of corruption is well-advanced in a commonwealth, believers can easily be maneuvered into festooning themselves with the campaign buttons of the less corrupt. Such relative comparisons between 'horrible' and 'not quite so bad,' can appear quite stark, and they do give political campaigns a high entertainment value, but they still do not reflect the standards of the law of God" (Joy at the End of the Tether, p. 116).
May we abhor the "not so bad" and "ok" preaching rife in the Church and strive for preachers who will fearlessly Preach the Word, in season and out, correcting, rebuking and encouraging, with great patience and careful instruction. Amen.