Eastminster Presbyterian Church
Met with Paul Roberts pastor of Eastminster Presbyterian Church on Rosh Hashanah (5773 / September 17, 2012). I told Paul I’d send him my comments below, and knowing how his <eastminsterchurch.net> email connection has been spotty for years I asked him to first send me an email from which I could answer hoping it would go through. When I responded the email immediately bounced back with a “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:” message. So I’m posting my comments here and then in the morning I’ll give him the web address to this post. Paul’s my Highland Park block neighbor.
. . .
from: David Johnson <gmail.com>
to: Rev Paul Roberts <eastminsterchurch.net>
date: Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM
subject: Re: Notification
Paul, the dates and times of the comments below should link you to their BGBC Survivors context. Shalom
David Johnson June 12, 2012 11:45 AM
For the last year that I was a member of Eastminster Presbyterian Church, I spent service-time as a care-giver in the nursery with the preschoolers—the coolest little people on the planet! I had become no longer interested in the sermons of my pastor. Although he was an exceptionally good and godly man (we prayed together every Wed, he was a man after God’s own heart, he was truly a good pastor); however, for his tolerance of a certain rebellion in the church’s (and denomination’s) authority structure my heart was broken. His sermons were neither boring or repetitive or unbiblical—No, it was because of his position on the nature and scope of spiritual authority that I could no longer stomach his preaching. I eventually withdrew my membership and looked for a healthier church. Still, really good and amazing people there, but I couldn’t stay.
A couple years ago I listened to a series of homiletics lectures given by Dr. Bryan Chapell of Covenant Theological Seminary entitled Christ-Centered Preaching. I took a few notes.
In his opening lecture Chapell lists the three Aristotelian rhetorical components of persuasive messages:
1. Logos – the word (verbal content; logic)
2. Pathos – passion (emotive content)
3. Ethos – character (trustworthiness; credibility; authority)
The Apostle Paul says, “Our gospel came to you not simply with words [logos], but also with power and with deep conviction [pathos]. You know how we lived [ethos] among you for your sake” (1 Thess. 1:5).
Consider Phillip Brooks’ famous saying: “Preaching is truth poured through personality.” And Marshal McLuhan’s famous saying: “The medium is the message.”
Here’s the reality: one’s character can become so vitiated that not only does it inevitably affect the message itself, but it can close people off from ever even hearing what you have to say.
When Chuck stood on the steps of Portland’s Convention center shouting things like, “You Sir, shall Perish from the Wrath of God!” Do you really think this was an effective way of evangelizing to Jehovah Witnesses? No, they didn’t look any deeper than the medium to realize they weren’t interested in the message.
David Johnson June 12, 2012 12:55 PM
Having emphasized the ethos (character, personality, trustworthiness, credibility, authority) component of preaching. Let me share two quotes toward appreciating the logos and pathos side of the art of preaching.
Martyn LLoyd-Jones writes: “What is Preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning this Truth ought to be mightily eloquent, as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man’s understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. . . . A man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one.”
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” – Marshal of France and military theorist, Ferdinand Foch
. . .
David Johnson June 12, 2012 2:22 PM
One thing I would like to emphasize. There is a blessed fold of true and genuine spirit-filled believers at Eastminster doing true Christian ministry in the name of our Lord and Savior. Although I left Eastminster maybe five or so years ago, I only left a ministry on their campus less than but a year ago. And all seven years of my ministry at their respite center I recommended broken people to visit the church. I still feel that good about the place! If I may be crass for a minute. Eastminster Presbyterian is a hell of a church! With a lot of true Christian love there!
I believe it was for the true Christian love exhibited at Eastminster that a lady and her four-year-old son faithfully attended.
[An aside: Another young woman who oversaw the nursery ministry observed me holding and rocking her baby in my arms, and in on seeing how I was with babies recruited me for the nursery. However, Arce, those crawlers as you call them were actually pretty boring human beings… (not as boring as Julie Anne’s last three posts) but these babies didn’t even know how to talk yet. Just poop, pee, scream, and push little bright toys around on the carpet. After about two weeks of that gibberish I got a transfer. See, on the other side of the wall was where all the cool kids were, where all the action was happening. So now I got to work with the three, four and five year olds. I pick up my story:]
This lady’s son, he was one of my favorites. And yes, I had favorites, but I loved them all equally. Well her son was usually my first kid, and one morning as we were playing with small plastic animals on a small round table my boy looks me in the eyes and says, “Freddy was in my dreams last night!” I kept on playing and then said, “Freddy who?” My boy looked at me with googly eyes and said, “You know.” I said, “Oh, that Freddy.” We played some more and I asked, “What was Freddy doing in your dreams?” My boy not even breaking his plastic dinosaur’s stride nonchalantly answered, “Killing people.”
My heart broke. Somehow he had been exposed to the horrors of Freddy Krueger. But my heart, after skipping a beat, was warmed by the reality that this lady and her son were surrounded by the love of true spirit-filled Christians, even better followers of Christ than me. And even, broken me, the boy had. And I was glad to be a someone he took his cues from. Bless you Eastminster!