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1 Tim 4 13 - A Reflection

1 Tim 4 13 - A Reflection

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Published by Domenic Marbaniang
The reflection highlights the interweaving of the three elements Reading Exhortation Doctrine (acro RED) into 3 points:
1. Knitting of the Narrative and Propositional elements of Preaching
2. Blending of the Personal and Public testimony of the Word
3. Fusion of Intentionality with the Concrete Truths of God
The reflection highlights the interweaving of the three elements Reading Exhortation Doctrine (acro RED) into 3 points:
1. Knitting of the Narrative and Propositional elements of Preaching
2. Blending of the Personal and Public testimony of the Word
3. Fusion of Intentionality with the Concrete Truths of God

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Published by: Domenic Marbaniang on Jun 17, 2009
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05/09/2011

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THE PREACHER’S R.E.D.
By Domenic Marbaniang
(delivered at New Life College Chapel, Bangalore – June 17, 2009)
"Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." (1 Tim. 4:13) 
 The three-fold command can be put into the acrostic RED:
R
– Reading
E
– Exhortation
D
– DoctrineThis epistle is addressed to Timothy a pastor, representative, overseer, appointed over the church atEphesus. Ephesus, one of the biggest cities of Roman Asia, was the host of the Temple of Artemis of Diana, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. The city was an economical hub and home to a varietyof cultures, including a large community of Jews. Paul visited this city and ministered in it during his 3rdmissionary journey with the effect that the whole of Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus.Timothy, here, is a young, and possibly a rather reserved, shy, and timid boy. Paul exhorts him withmany words to be strong in the ministry. It’s very obvious that a young man would be easily despised;but Paul both encourages and appoints Timothy for an important job.This exhortation relates to the important ministry of God’s Word. We’ll have to look at RED as oneinstead of treating each into compartments.
1. The Knitting of the Narrative and the Propositional Aspects of Preaching.
 Reading, Exhortation, Doctrine (propositional truths).In the past few decades, there has been a growing emphasis on the “narrative” above the“propositional”. This is especially among the post-liberals, also known as the Emergent Church group,and is a reaction against what they considered to be the inadequacy of modernism to deal with theissues of the post-modern culture.The post-modern “narrative turn” of this movement heralded the idea that Christian theology shouldfocus on a narrative representation of the faith rather than the development of a metaphysical systemor set of propositions deduced from the data of revelation. It was a move against the systematicrepresentation of faith in logical form.The issues raised were: The Bible is not a book of doctrine or propositions. It is simply a compilation of experiences, narratives of God’s relationship with people. Religious truth is something that is related toone’s context and not overarching.But the fact is that the Bible contains both; e.g. much of Psalms, proverbs, Law, Epistles won’t fit into thenarrative framework. Narrative preaching may not just be about telling stories; but mere narrativepreaching can be dangerous when the story is used as either a point or proof for some point. The style is
 
a popular one among the gurus of India.The danger of this bifurcation is the attempt to do away with any claims to absoluteness and universalityof truth in theology. This has given rise to a new form of preaching known as emergent preaching. Theearlier modernist method of Bultmann is considered to be outdated. Emergent theology is a reversal of the Bultmannian style. Bultmann thought of demythologizing the narratives in order to reconstruct thetheology of the mythical elements. The modern trend is to preserve the narratives and rule away thepropositions, which are considered to be too relativist.Paul’s emphasis – we should not neglect the doctrine (apostolic teaching and instruction). At the sametime, the reading of the whole Word (without neglecting any portion) signifies the emphasis on thenarrative as well. Exhortation is sandwiched between the two.JOHN 3:16: Narrative of the great saga of God’s love and declaration of the proposition of eternalsalvation through faith only in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2. The Blending of the Personal and the Public Testimony of the Word
 
The NIV translation of αναγνωσις as “public reading” is over
-extended. The public ministration cannotbe without the personal administration of the Word of God. Reading is not just about the external. Theministry of the Word is a fountain that must have its spring within the personal. I read it and then I readit for others. Similarly, I find exhortation for myself and then I exhort others, and so on.And so, the word “exhortation” is better than the NIV’s “preaching” – though the Biblical idea of preaching is not separable from the personal. Exhortation is not mere sermonizing. It has to flow fromthe inner springs of maturity gained by spiritual experiences and spiritual discernment obtained frompartaking of the strong Word of God.Similarly, “doctrine” is faith - faith that one holds on to and is ready to live and die for. It is not thePharisaic interpretation of the Law that binds heavy on the lay but is shunned by the clergy. It is not theopinions of humans but the givens of God. The Christian minister has nothing to do with teaching thingsor opinions that he is not willing to lay down his life for. Jesus came to bear witness to the truth and thistruth was unlike the contingent facts of this world. That was why Pilate was unable to understand it; fortruth for him was politically non-existent. Therefore, the seculars create ideals like nation andnationalism which are idolized into religion. One can’t trade eternity for temporal ideals after all.The servant of God is a singular blending of the private and the public ministration of God’s Word.Therefore, we emphasize prophetical preaching. Remember the OT prophets; they had to live out whatthey preached.Our ministry should flow out of a personal enrooting in God’s spiritual realities. How can one be a homefor the birds and a shadow for the weary when one’s trunk is uprooted and severed from the ground?
3. The Fusion of Intentionality with the Concreteness of Divine Truths
 Intentionality means “aboutness”. The concept is that human consciousness is always about something.

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