Preaching and the Mind

Here is a great quote from Joel Beeke in a chapter entitled Evangelism Rooted in Scripture, out of the book Whatever Happened to the Reformation:

First, Puritan preaching addressed the mind with clarity. It addressed man as a rational creature. The Puritans loved and worshipped God with their minds. They viewed the mind as the palace of faith. They refused to set mind and heart against each other, but taught that knowledge was the soil in which the Spirit planted the seed of regeneration. Puritans thus preached that we need to think in order to be holy. They challenged the idea that holiness is only a matter of emotions.

The Puritans preached that a flabby mind is no badge of honor. They understood that a mindless Christianity will foster a spineless Christianity. An anti-intellectual gospel will spawn an irrelevant gospel that does not get beyond "felt needs." That's what is happening in our churches today. We've lost our Christian mind, and for the most part we do not see the necessity of recovering it. We do not understand that where there is little difference between the Christian and non-Christian in what we think and believe, there will soon be little difference in how we live.

page 245-246.

By the way, I recommend the book highly. It deals with several very relevant topics.


bumble said...

But we are living in the postmodern time. Why would we need to stay puritanical if Scripture didn't explicitly requires it?

Peter Bogert said...


Sometimes I think that the whole Postmodernism thing is another evangelical fad. While I know that is not true, is there any other entity that has bought into this as much as the church?

Certainly times are different, but human nature is not. The Puritans viewed the mind as something to engage because the Bible makes that same claim over and over and over, from the pages of Proverbs to the pages of Paul's teaching on sactification.

Christianity is a cognitive faith - words are important, faith comes by hearing, we're to love the Lord our God with all of our minds. These things cannot be dismissed just become someone decides that we live in a different era.

pete porter said...

Hi Peter,
Yes the mind is important, but needs to be renewed. This is accomplished by the revelation of the spirit. The mind void of this is carnal, and useless. The soul of man is secondary to the spirit, a vehicle to agree with the promptings of the spirit, to bring the body into submission. If instead we place the gospel into the realm of the mind, we have no gospel at all. Only the spirit can produce the life, by following the Holy Spirit with-in. Carnal thinking is not the power of God.
Be Blessed,

Bumble said...


While trend could be labeled as fad, we could not ignore the changes in our audience.

Hundred years ago, the puritans had no TV, cell phones, or Internet and so their primary communication were in written and verbal forms. Their average minds were much better than our average person today.

Fifty years ago, if we could present the Truth as an beatable air tight argument, people will listen to the good news we have.

Today, it doesn't matter if we have the Truth, it have to be the Truth they prefered...

Besides, the mass no longer have the capability to digest doctrinal logics like the puritans. Back then, presidential debates took 7 hours of solid speech, today you won't get any where without sound bites. Even as I compared the transcript of sermons from Urbana Mission Conference back fifty years ago with what we have today, I realized that the time have changed, and now it requires us to get through the heart first to get to the mind.

Peter Bogert said...


I agree that we have to engage the heart, but Scripture is proposition that first goes to the mind. That doesn't change because we are in an alleged new era. I get the idea that there is a general assumption that so-called post-moderns can't learn as well as people did in the past. I don't buy that at all.

Interesting thing - I used my sermon on 10/30 to talk about what happened during the Reformation. I spoke quite a bit longer than I normally do, and there were far more "facts and figures" because of what I was doing to set up the series I am in now. I have had more feedback from that sermon and this series than any that I have preached in three years, with the common thread being "we didn't know that."

I think a lot of believers "don't know" a lot of things because we have made some assumptions about their ability to learn. Thats why I join the small but vocal chorus of those who decry the dumbing down that seems to be urged upon us.

I grant you that our highly technical age presents problems, but before people learned to read many of those same problems were present. But I'm not going to toss what God has used for all peoples of all times because sociologists determine that everyone fits into a new box.

Thanks for sharing your viewpoint, though!