Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
July 31, 2010
For Immediate Release
Faithful preachers proclaim God's message without fear, Jamaican Baptist insists
by Ken Camp
|Honolulu (BWA) --
Preaching should be dangerous business, because faithful preachers
dare to deliver a message from God - regardless of the consequences, Karl
Johnson, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, told the Baptist World
Addressing the 20th Congress of the Baptist World Alliance, July
29 in Honolulu, Johnson emphasized proclamation as the primary means of
sharing the gospel with the world.
"There can be no real and viable substitute for it," he said.
to the example of the 8th century prophet Amos in the Old Testament as a
messenger from God who understood proclamation as a vocation grounded on
irrepressible divine compulsion and confronted by inescapable tension.
by God feel compelled to obediently serve as the "mouthpiece" for God, he said.
with it an awesome responsibility -- a responsibility never to project or
present anything or anyone else, save God and God's message," Johnson said.
is a dangerous occupation. Proclamation is a frightening engagement, as we
stand in the name of -- and on behalf of -- the God of this universe, who
chooses to use us as his intermediaries, to speak his word."
skills, preaching technique and homiletical tools matter, but not as much as
the message itself, he stressed.
"I proclaim to
you ... that it's not more aids that we need. We do not need more oratory. We do
not need more lyrical gimmicks," Johnson said. "We need more messengers of God,
bearers of the word of God, conduits of the truth, of the counsels of Almighty
God -- persons who will proclaim, 'Thus says the Lord.'"
understand not only the message God has given them, but also possess a proper
understanding of God.
"Such is the
awesomeness of this task that we need always to be wary of persons who are
overly glib and overly confident in the handling of this truth, for the weight
of it rests heavily on us," he said. "We dare not misrepresent God."
occupational hazards come with the territory of proclaiming God's message,
Johnson insisted. Like Amos, whom some discounted because of his place of
origin and lack of formal training, modern preachers also may be dismissed
based on factors of class, race, gender, politics or educational background, he
"We who stand in
the name of God in Christ Jesus will always face tension in a world that is
still upside-down concerning matters of equality and notions of superiority.
Whatever the source of the tension, let us stand firm in the conviction that we
are here, not so much because we think that being here brings with it a sense
of actualization, but because we go where God sends us, do what God bids us do
and say what God tells us say," Johnson said.
this -- the strength of our authority does not reside in any sponsor or any who
supports us. The force of our message does not depend on the Ivy League,
rarified atmosphere of any institution. Our authority comes from God's call on
our lives, and God's message is never inferior."
Preachers run the
risk of getting into trouble when they faithfully proclaim the message God
gives them, Johnson said. The church today needs preachers who "will not
consider their bank balance or examine their own welfare before determining
what to preach," he said. "We need preachers who will not stop to assess their
future before deciding whether they should obey God in what they say."
proclamation walks a fine line, attending to contextual relevance without
surrendering to parochialism, Johnson concluded. The true preacher called by
God maintains a global vision.
"Our message is
therefore never culture-bound, even though it must have cultural relevance and
sensitivity," he said. "Our message must never be exhausted only by local
concerns. ... Let our message challenge the structures of imprisonment, bondage
and evil, which are manifesting themselves in sinful ways and acts of rebellion
all across this world.
"Let us speak
truth to power. Let us proclaim truth to systems that nourish inequity and
injustice, racism and poverty. And let us say with clarity and conviction,
without fear or favor, 'Thus saith the Lord, Let God's people go.'
"And if they ask
us -- in fact, when they ask us -- From where have we come? Who are we? Tell
them, 'We are they who have heard the Lord speaking to us." Tell them: Our Lord
has spoken. We can only but proclaim.'"
Ken Camp is managing editor of the Texas