Preach The Word
make the pulpit once again
By David E. Parks
"flame with righteousness"!
One of the most famous quotations in all of history comes from Alexis de
Tocqueville. Alexis-Charles-Henri-Maurice Clerel de Tocqueville was born in Paris on July
29, 1805. Born of aristocratic parents he acquired the position of apprentice magistrate
early in life.
For a period of nine months in 1831 and 1832 he and a lifelong friend,
Gustave de Beaumont, came to America to study prison reform. During their tour of the
United States, they traveled extensively talking to citizens from all walks of
His encounter with the American people left such an indelible impression
on him that after his return to Paris he produced the two volume set, Democracy in
America. The Comptons Encyclopedia said of the set, "For more
than 150 years it has helped Americans to understand their government, their character,
and the course of their history."
Although Alexis was deeply impressed with what he saw in our country, he
concluded that democracy without the proper foundation would eventually degenerate into,
the "tyranny of the majority."
All that he wrote in Democracy in America can be
summarized in one classic quotation:
I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious
harbors and her ample rivers and it was not there. I sought in the fertile fields
and boundless forest in her rich mines and vast world commerce and it was
not there. I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her democratic Congress and
her matchless Constitution it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of
America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her
genius and power. America is great because America is good and if America ever
ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
Two things have always impressed me about this penetrating analysis of
our wonderful country. The first is that it is an eloquent commentary on Proverbs 14:34.
But, there is a second point in this quotation that impresses me. The
part where he wrote, "Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits
flame with righteousness." Many of America's Universities, Seminaries and
Bible Colleges have accepted the philosophy of modernity with its underlying assumption
that there is no such thing as absolute truth. According to George Barna's research, 81%
of Generation X'ers reject the concept of absolute truth.
With this wholesale abandonment of truth has come a new kind of pulpit.
Americans with itching ears have found what they want (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Many of today's
pulpits no longer ring with righteousness. Instead we are being spoon fed spiritual
by stand-for-nothing, fall-for-anything preachers and leaders who will say and do whatever
it takes to fill the pews or pay the bills.
Recently one of our members saw a sign in front of a church that read,
"fun songs and friendly sermons." Friends, the fire has gone out in too many
pulpits! Surely no visiting author would say of today's pulpits that they "flame
Gone is the cry for repentance from sin and the call to holiness. In its
place we find, transactional analysis, self affirmation, and a unique colloidal concoction
consisting of equal parts of P. T. Barnum hucksterism, Madison Avenue gimmick and Rogerian
Let's get back to the book! Lets stop wasting valuable pulpit time with
the latest "feel good" pop-psychology, promotionalism, learned theological
speculation, and get back to plain, penetrating Bible preaching that calls men and woman
to holiness now. Almighty God demands that the preacher stop ending every sentence with a
question mark. God help us to relearn the preacher's marching orders:
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who
will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be
ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and
teaching. . . But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of
an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:1,2,5)
In a word, God's charge to Timothy and Titus is the same one that he
sets forth to every one who would be a faithful Gospel preacher, make the pulpit once
again "flame with righteousness," "Preach the word."