Saturday, February 06, 2010

On the Public Reading of Scripture

Public reading of Scripture is an important part of worship.

But what about when it isn’t reading?

Today, I watched the beginning of a sermon online where a pastor spent time quoting a lengthy passage of Scripture, complete with excellent timing, voice inflection, and phrasing.

It was impressive.

But what of authority? He was clearly quoting it, almost as if it were his words. In fact, his voice inflection was such that, at times, it did sound exactly like his words.

What’s the problem? I confess that I am not entirely sure.

But it just seemed to me as if some of the authority was lost because it appeared more like this man’s words than it did God’s words. It wasn’t because of his voice, but because of his memory.

It was just a bit unsettling to me, a bit weird, like something was lost and something else was being substituted.

Am I offbase? Perhaps.

Feel free to tell me if I am (though some need no invitation at all).


Jon from Bucksport said...

Interesting thought. I don't know to whom you are referring but it sounds like something I heard Piper do some time ago. He actually cobbled together several passages and quoted them without reference or comment. He spoke excellently and it was quite powerful and I think that he did no violence to the Word in the way he did it. I thought it was quite profitable.
Are you saying that it would sound more like the God's word if we read in a monotone? One reason that I think we don't give more attention to reading the word is that so few people have given any thought to developing the skill of public reading. They just jump up and hammer through the verses. I want to hear it the way Paul, James, Peter or Jesus would have said it if they were telling me these things at the counter in the diner!

Jon from Bucksport said...

Also, what does scripture sound like inside your head when you sit and read?

Larry said...

It was Piper, quoting the book of Philippians. As I say, it was impressive on a number of different levels.

But it was just strange. It wasn't his tone or voice inflection. I liked that. I am not a fan of monotone at all.

Honestly, I think it was the memory, as weird as that sounds. It was like it was not coming from the Bible.

Mark said...

Very interesting, Larry. I know what you mean. I have a CD put out by Ligonier where several prominent pastors are reading the Scripture (MAC, Sproul, Begg, Piper, et al) accompanied by background music. I love the CD, but I don't particularly care for Piper's reading style. It's almost too dramatic. Hard to pinpoint, and I don't like to nitpick...but like I said, I know what you mean.

Jon from Bucksport said...

Larry, I am still digesting this. On the initial post I thought of this: I imagine that you remember Ryan from BJU. I really like this kind of presentation of the scripture and believe that it fulfills the mandate to give attention to the reading of scripture which I think has been generally neglected. I guess there could be a problem is someone starts cobbling together scripture in a way that twists it but all things considered is not a prolonged reading/quoting of scripture in an engaging way a bad thing? As a proponent of grammatico-historical expositional preaching why does this come across as strange?
I was also a bit perplexed by your comment that it did not sound like the Bible. I know you are not there but it sounds like the kind of thing a KJVO would say.