I will not have a column next week. Some of you can rejoice at that. Oh, by the way, note to The Telegraph: I won’t have a column next week. I will be doing something I have never done before -- giving a sermon.
A year ago I started seminary at Reformed Theological Seminary’s Atlanta campus. I did it for two reasons. First, I spend more and more time writing about and talking about cultural and faith issues. My world- view is Christian and I know the Bible says ministers are held to a higher standard. Whether I like it or not, I am pretty sure I have some form of ministry and thought I needed a deeper understanding of my faith.
Going to seminary has definitely shaped my views on things and impacted both what I write and how I write. But second, since I started talking and writing about faith and culture issues, I have gotten a lot of invitations to serve as guest pastor and give Sunday sermons in various churches around the country. Not being in seminary or with that background, I turned down every single invitation.
After three years of this while concurrently wondering if I should go to seminary, I finally decided I must go. It has thus far been deeply rewarding and enriching. Humorously, all the invitations to preach stopped the moment I started school -- at least until a couple of months ago.
Next Friday I will be giving my first sermon in Chicago at an Apologetics conference. The subject is believers in the public square. The text is Acts 6:8-7:1, the lead up to Stephen’s speech. Stephen was the first martyr of the church. The Bible tells us that, like with Jesus, false witnesses distorted what Stephen was saying. The crowd demanded he be punished. He was executed.
I have a new appreciation for pastors who preach each Sunday. I write an inordinate amount on a daily basis. I have at least four pieces I write each day at about 2,000 words minimum. Then I have this column and a longer nationally syndicated column. Usually there is a piece for Fox News as well.
But preparing this sermon was exhausting in a way my daily writing is not. There is a tremendous burden, I realize, for pastors. They do not want to subtract from the scripture, but they also must make sure they do not add meaning to scripture that is not supposed to be there. Additionally, there are souls involved. A pastor surely does not want to mislead or misdirect someone.
As for the sermon itself, though I focus on Stephen, it is worth sharing the beginning, which starts in Matthew with the Great Commission. Christ called the remaining 11 disciples to a mountain top and told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ...”
Notice the words of Christ. Because “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to” him, “go.” Christianity is not the religion of high walls. It is not to be insular. We are to go. We are to go and do what? We are to go “and make disciples of all nations.” Islam remains rooted in Saudi Arabia. Judaism remains rooted in Israel. Hinduism remains rooted in India. Buddism lies there, too. Christianity is a mobile, moving, flowing religion guided by a Holy Spirit.
I’ll publish the text after I give the sermon next week. Prayers appreciated as I head into the pulpit the first time.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.