The pulpit is gone. Pulpit makers are going out of business. There is no wooden semi-circle of representative authority for today’s preacher. There is no longer an elevated status for the “man of God.” Therefore, there is no need for an elevated stand. Kids today may have to learn about pulpits from museums or pictures on the internet. If the pulpit disappears, where shall we go for truth? Has the pulpit been forgotten? Oh pulpit, where art thou?

Stand-by Churches and Critical Perspectives

I often have to go to one of my stand-by churches today. These are the churches we go to when a satanic tornado of confusion and disarray storms the Patton castle on Sunday morning, and we don’t have time to drive to our normal church—or when we have simply slept too late. I have a love-hate relationship with my stand-by churches. They serve as places where I can go and fellowship with other believers, but they also serve as places where I put on my hyper-critical hat of unspirituality and critique every aspect of what happens, from the parking lot to the pew. Recently, I was wearing more of a critical hat. While I should have been listening to the sermon, I was critiquing the techniques of the performance service. More specifically, my thoughts were on the absence of a pulpit.

The Changing Face of the Church

You may have noticed that most evangelical churches have abandoned the pulpit for a more seeker-friendly wooden stool (if anything at all). There is simply the peripatetic style as the pastor walks back and forth in an attempt to gain the audience. Why? It is the zeitgeist—the spirit of the age. Wait… that sounds too negative too quickly. It is an attempt to disarm people by making the pastor seem more authentic. There, that’s better.

What is a Pulpit?

Let’s back up for a bit and look at what the pulpit is. The word “pulpit” comes from the Latin pulpitum, meaning “scaffold”, “platform”, “stage.” The Latin word is used to translate the Greek ambon. A dictionary definition might look something like this:

pul·pit [pool-pit]—noun
A platform or raised structure in a church, from which the sermon is delivered or the service is conducted.

It also is used symbolically for the ministry in general or, more popularly, as any “stage” for your beliefs to be proclaimed. “From the pulpit” is a phrase that is often used to communicate the authority of and passion for the message. Something you may not have know is that in Protestantism the pulpit is very important. In a way, it stands as the iconic symbol for the very foundations of the movement. Of course, Protestants did not invent the pulpit, but they popularized its use in a very unique way.

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Teaching Techniques and Authority

I teach a teacher training course. During this course, we discuss the way that one communicates non-verbally during a presentation. For example, when one wishes to teach in a more Socratic method, they will ask questions of the audience. The goal is maximum participation. This method is accomplished best when the teacher is walking among the audience (peripatetic). He or she should not be on a raised platform, for this communicates a level of authority that will hinder participation. One wants to communicate that they are leading the discussion, not autonomously telling people what to think. Therefore, being on level with the audience is the best method.

However, if one is to speak authoritatively, this is not the best method. In this case, one wants to be seen as the teacher, not merely a participant in the learning or a discussion guide leader. Here, preparation, authority, and command of the subject are communicated in two ways: 1) Elevated height. When one is physically raised above the audience, this not only gives the speaker the ability to be seen and heard, it demonstrates their unique position as the teacher. 2) Pulpit or podium. The podium serves as a separation between you and the audience, demonstrating the authority of that which you are teaching.

The Symbolic Power of the Pulpit

However, it is not necessarily about the preacher. In traditional Protestantism, the pulpit has served to position the Scripture as the ultimate authority. After the Reformation, the pulpit was moved from the left-hand side of the nave (sanctuary) to the center. It is even placed above the altar and/or communion table. This placement serves to illustrate how expositional preaching (preaching from the Scripture—not using the Scriptures as a spring-board to one’s own ideas) is the central foundation to spiritual life. As you may have noticed in the past, many pulpits have a picture of the Bible carved on them. The surface of the pulpit is designed to house the Bible and other study material. In every way, it is meant to communicate that the Scripture alone is our final and ultimate authority for our faith and practice (sola Scriptura).

Distrust and Disillusionment

But things have changed for many reasons. First and foremost, people don’t trust the figure behind the pulpit as they once did. Sociologically, the authority of the local pastor has become little more than that of a motivational speaker. When one assumes to communicate their interpretation of the Bible, many simply believe that it is just that—their interpretation of the Bible. Therefore, people are more likely to listen to someone share their lives, experiences, and encouragements than they are to let someone speak on behalf of God by interpreting God’s word. You can share, walk around, and/or discuss, but don’t get behind the pulpit and preach. People are very suspicious of your motives and ability to tell them how things “really” are.

Hypocrisy and Scandals

As well, people have been burned. They have seen too many hypocrites behind the pulpit. Enough is enough when I allow someone authority over me who is out cheating on his wife, avoiding taxes, or involved in some type of embarrassing public scandal. Alleviate yourself of the pulpit and I will cut you some slack. Authentically share of yourself and I will listen, relate, and laugh.

The Authenticity Dilemma

It is as simple as this: pastors and church-goers alike are abandoning the pulpit for more “authentic” relationships. This may sound nice, but, in the end, I fear it is representative of something very tragic and dangerous—the abandoning of the authority of God’s word.

The Unfortunate Concession of Pastors

Pastors are conceding in many ways. Many don’t even bother going to seminary anymore, focusing on communication styles and the development of their own charisma. The pastor of the church I went to recently had the best of intentions, and, I am sure, loves the Lord dearly. But in his own desire to concede to the prevailing distrust and desire for authenticity, it seems that he may have abandoned the only truly life-changing source that is available. In the end, he is not a pastor who is leading his flock over which he has been placed, but he is a motivational speaker for the community. Sure, motivational speakers are great and God can use them, but they are not shepherds of the church of God.

The Call to Teach and the Role of the Pulpit

With the pulpit comes preaching. Yes, preaching. There most certainly is a time to teach. There is a time to walk around socratically engaging your audience. But there is a time to preach. There is a time to speak authoritatively. If you are too afraid to take up this role, it may be best to step aside. Not everyone is called to preach and shepherd the church of God. But please don’t replace the need to have the word of God preached with an artificial substitute. Don’t remove the pulpit and replace it with a stool. There is a power in the pulpit (preaching) that is much different from the power of teaching. There is a power in the Scriptures that is unique—more so than motivational speeches.

Metaphorical Understanding and Practical Application

Of course, I am speaking a bit metaphorically here. I understand that one can have a pulpit and not preach the word. I also understand that one does not necessarily need a pulpit to faithfully exhort God’s people through the Scriptures. But I do think that the “Going Out of Business” sign on the local pulpit makers store is a sign of the times that does not bode well for us.

Evaluating the Absence of the Pulpit

Again, I am not here to necessarily argue for the return of the pulpit per se, but to discuss how its absence might illustrate the Evangelical church’s cave to a postmodern mindset. I understand and empathize with how this has come about, but in no way yield to its longings. Even with the possibility of abuse and ill-founded interpretations, the pulpit is necessary as preaching and authoritative guidance are necessary.

Authenticity and Authority in Leadership

Removing the pulpit is not a humble relational escape from responsibility. One can be authentic and authoritative at the same time. If you have been called to shepherd the church of God—if you have been called to be behind the pulpit—you must realize the importance of not only authentically relating to the people, but also of authoritatively proclaiming God’s word. Being behind a pulpit does not mean that you are perfect or that you have it all figured out, but it does mean that you are taking seriously the responsibility of your leadership under God.

A Reminder to Uphold the Tradition of Preaching

Next time, don’t forget the pulpit. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” (2 Timothy 4:2-3) “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13) “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (Titus 2:15) “For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith.” (Titus 1:13)

Reflective Questions

Does your church use a pulpit? What do you think about their disappearance? Am I reading too much into this? Now… look at me, getting Socratic at the end.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    84 replies to "Oh, Pulpit, Where Art Thou?"

    • Warren

      I may have to “leave Dodge” after making this comment (although I don’t intend to offend anyone), but I find the foregoing discussion an intriguing insight into 21st century American evangelical thinking. I’m not an American, but I suspect that the ideal of American individualism is a silent lens through which many of the preceding comments have been focused. I don’t know whether this is bad or good (or neither), but I’m not sure this sort of discussion would take place in any other nation.

    • C Michael Patton

      Warren, thanks much for the comments. Can you explain more what you mean?.

    • Kara Kittle

      I know what you mean. I know a lot of people from other countries who never talk about God in more than just a passing tone. Perhaps it could be people are tired of years of warring over religion and are tired of showing their faith.

      Americans are free to be expressive about anything and everything and if we wear our religion on our sleeves, that is what what we do. We are blessed for having freedom of religion expression no matter the religion or anti-religion. And we can argue about it in forums like this but never take it to such a degree we hate each other.

      We could also talk about what kind of potato salad is the most appropriate for Pastor Appreciation Day…and whether to fry the chicken yourself or buy it at KFC. Yes we are casual in our faith, so much so we can talk about it anywhere and anytime.

    • Warren

      Michael (#52), I feared you might put me on the spot. To give a little background, I’m a Canadian, so my thinking is likely closer to that of Americans than that of people from other nations (I’ve also lived in the US for three years). That said, I think there is an aversion in the American psyche to certain forms of authority that isn’t found elsewhere. This is doubtlessly a strength in some regards and a weakness in others. For me, when a preacher proclaims the Word of God to the people of God, he is the mouthpiece of God. If a pulpit has value, that value lies in the focus it brings to the Word of God – not to the person through whom that Word is being delivered. Used properly, I think a pulpit can take the eyes of the congregation off the preacher and focus them on God, whereas less formal approaches may serve to highlight the preacher. Of course, used improperly, the opposite can happen. I am in a church where there is still a pulpit, but I think it will soon disappear (the result of American evangelical influence I suspect). I don’t have strong feelings about this, but I doubt that the preaching of our pastor will be more powerful as a result, or less “threatening” to new comers.

      The US has certainly come a long way from the puritan preachers, some of whom thought it best to preach in a monotone voice so as to minimize any influence their personality might have on the proclamation of God’s Word.

    • Warren

      Kara (#53), you missed my point. My fault for being far too obscure.

    • C Michael Patton

      Warren. Great thoughts! I loved this:

      “For me, when a preacher proclaims the Word of God to the people of God, he is the mouthpiece of God. If a pulpit has value, that value lies in the focus it brings to the Word of God – not to the person through whom that Word is being delivered. Used properly, I think a pulpit can take the eyes of the congregation off the preacher and focus them on God, whereas less formal approaches may serve to highlight the preacher.”

      I could write a second part on this post based on that!!

    • A theology professor once commented to me that where we place the pulpit, lecturn, baptismal tank, etc… can say a lot about our theology.

    • Warren

      EC-MB (#57), don’t forget the Lord’s Table (or the baptismal font). Growing up in a pentecostal church and having attended a variety of evangelical churches over the course of my adult life (I move often courtesy of the Canadian Air Force), I gave little thought to the nature or placement of church furniture. Looking back, I didn’t give much thought to theology either. I then spent two years in an Anglican church (a solid evangelical one that recently separated from the very liberal Anglican Church of Canada). I’m now back in what I would call a Willow-Creek-clone church, but I look at things through different eyes. I don’t think Michael Spencer explicitly addresses church furniture in The Coming Evangelical Collapse, but it would be interesting to get his take on the pulpit question.

    • JardinPrayer (Lynn)

      Not sure I can agree with Mr. Bell’s theology professor. Seems like a dangerously subjective process of evaluation. Case in point: my new church announced that water baptisms would be part of the Good Friday service last week. I have never seen a baptismal pool (tank) anywhere in this church, so I was wondering how they would approach this. At the end of the service, the pastor casually said, “Okay, baptisms will begin out back in a few minutes, so hurry and collect your kids if you want a good view.” Out back? I knew there was a lake outside the back doors of the church…could he man that? And, it was dark outside, to boot! Turned out the baptismal pool is a built-in pool built just on the edge of the lake, surrounded by palms. A professional videographer was there and the pool was lit like a stadium, flooded in light. The evening was breezy and perfect, the palms whispered above us, and I felt God all around!

      As placement goes, we had to walk at least 1000 feet down a long path to get there, but when we arrived, there was tremendous joy and celebration. It felt closer to Jesus’ baptismal experience than any other such ceremony I have experienced over my church years!

    • Kara Kittle

      Nice one, I bet it was beautiful and the pastor obviously put a lot of thought into it. What a way to honor God.

    • Hi Warren,

      Off topic for a moment. It seems like we have some shared experiences. I am also Canadian, my wife’s father was in the Air Force as well. Her first church after she became a Christian was the Base Chapel in Cold Lake. We met at East Gate Alliance in Ottawa, which served as church home for some of the Air Force personnel there. (The church was right by the base.) Interested to know which Anglican and Willow Creek clone you have been part of. We may know people in common.

      Mike Bell

    • Lynn,

      I think you sort of enforced my point. Your church obviously spent a lot of time/attention on its baptismal setup showing that it was important to them. While it was outside of the building itself, it was still a very important feature.

      Having a central pulpit sends a message that the preaching of the word is one of the key components to the church. Having a big worship band space says that this is important. The same goes for a large choir loft, or a central communion table.

      The point was we tend to put front and center, and spend the money on those things that are important to us. That is also why people get upset when a cross is replaced, or moved, or covered up because of the installation of a video screen. Whether we intend to or not, we are sending a subtle message about the place of the cross.

    • Warren

      EC-MB (#60), the Anglican church is St Alban’s in Ottawa. I don’t live in Ottawa now, but, if I move back, I would go back to this church in a heart beat. I’m aware of Eastgate Alliance but have never visited there (although I have been part of other C&MA churches). I’m now in the Belleville area and am attending a large Christian Reformed Church. I’ve been leaning towards Calvinism in recent years and I decided to give a reformed church a try. I’ve been a bit disappointed though, as reformed theology is rarely evident and a casual visitor would likely have no clue as to the church’s denominational affiliation (unless they were visiting on a Sunday when there was an infant baptism). My wife and I will be moving to Colorado Springs this summer (NORAD job) so we will get to experience American culture for a second time, and will once again be faced with the task of finding a chuch (I think this will be the 17th time).

      I guess this is way off topic.

    • Warren

      Oops, the preceding post should say EC-MB (#61).

    • Dave Z

      I spent 7 years at a Presbyterian church (PCUSA) that was very observant of what they call “Sacred Space.” The pulpit, communion table and baptistry (bowl of water) had to be placed just so. In addition, the chancel had to have the proper colors in place for the seasons of the church calendar.

      However, very few in the church could explain the significance of such specifics, and there was little spiritual depth in much of the church leadership. It was all symbolism over substance. One church leader asked me “how can we worship if the chancel is not correct?” I responded that I worship in my car sometimes. I have to wonder if we’re worshipping at all if our focus is on furniture.

      I did come away from that church with a greater appreciation of certain traditional church perspectives and practices. They’ve been developed over centuries and there is real strength there, but the risk is that we have a strong skeleton with little or no flesh on it.

      So, to CMP’s point, that church had a pulpit, but a poor history of “authoritatively proclaiming God’s word.” (I’m sure they’d disagree) MOF, it might be accurate to say that many of the “bleeding-out” mainline churches do have pulpits, but fall short on “authoritatively proclaiming God’s word.” And that pattern has been in place for decades. To flip the discussion over, is the pulpit a symbol of theological liberalism?

    • Dennis Elenburg

      I don’t know if Powerpoint is pagan, but according to this article from Wired, it is evil:

    • Kara Kittle

      Pagan PowerPoint, still makes me laugh at that one

    • Steve

      Tell me how many times you have shared the gospel with somebody this week. We whine about pulpits and powerpoints, but what about “Go therefore and MAKE disciples of all nations” This is the problem with Churches today we argue about translations, pulpits, styles of worship (Praise, or Hynm). while lost people die and go tho hell. ( By the way I have shared my faith 4 times since Sat. one on one.) I could go and share with my Secretary but she is tired of being used as a ginnypig

    • C Michael Patton

      Steve, while sharing the Gospel is important, be sure not to equate “make disciples” fully with “share the Gospel.” There is much more to it. It is because the church has taken such a minimalist approach to the great commition that we are in the touble we are in (in my opinion).

      Thanks for contributing, but try to stay on subject.

    • Kara Kittle

      We at my house were just discussing that very thing. In Matthew 28:19-20 He explained what we were to do.

      Go ye therefore into all the world, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo I am with you always even unto the end of the world.

      Things we must get in here…
      1:Jesus was talking
      2:Method of baptistm
      3:Teaching an observance, or keeping
      4:What Jesus told us to do.
      5:Jesus will be with us.

      Now in all of that did He say by what method or means? No, so if the PowerPoint can be used to teach with, by all means use it.

    • Tony Slavin

      Mr Patton, I just read your thoughts on the absence of the pulpit in the modern church. I must admit that I thought you were setting us up for a joke at first. I have read a few of your articles in the past (especially liked your blog where you responded to “Truth Wars” by McArthur. Our elders all read his book and your blogs and found them to be full of sound thinking). I must admit that this article falls short of your usual cut-through-the-garbage clarity.
      A few thoughts and questions for you. You draw a wide gulf between preaching and teaching. You define teaching as the peripatetic method of Socrates and you imply preaching is only (or primarily) done from the pulpit. I don’t see that these definitions come from the Bible, so I wonder why you set the argument up this way. If we need more preaching and less teaching (as defined by you ) from the pulpit, where does your definition of these two proclamation activities come from? It is interesting that at the end of your article you quote Scripture to support your thesis, but some of the verses used the word “teaching” not “preaching.” In fact, the 2 Tim passage uses them both in the same context in what appears to be synonymous. It is interesting that the word “teaching” occurs significantly more times in Scripture than “preaching” does. I am not sure what we can draw from that statistic. I am more inclined to see little difference in the biblical definition of these two words. So, I can’t help but see your argument as coming from a more recent history. You suggest that the Protestants moved the pulpit to center stage to show the authority of the Word in the Church. I would agree. But today there are thousands of churches with a pulpit on center stage that do not preach a biblically based message. The symbolism is lost.
      Because you see the pulpit as a symbol of biblical authority does not mean that others do. In fact, I would surmise that most miss the symbolism completely. I don’t see a need to maintain a piece of furniture for the authority of the Word. I think you dismissed too quickly the fact that the pulpit tends to communicate the preachers authority, not the Bible. The Word’s authority is honored if the preacher/teacher regularly teaches that authority and practices it. Furniture is secondary. You have come close to confusing form with essence. I think I know that you really haven’t made that mistake, but others, even some of your readers, do.
      A few others thoughts if you would indulge me. Our modern preaching style has been historically and culturally defined by the Reformation. The Bible does not tell us how to preach (it doesn’t even say we must preach expositionally as opposed to topically). I personally prefer to learn and teach expositionally, but this says more about my culture and history than it does the Bible’s prescription on how to preach/teach.
      Whether we like it or not, TV has changed how people learn and their ability to follow logical arguments (you probably have read “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman). I am biased in this discussion because I am the associate pastor of Adult Education in our church. I spend most of my time teaching in a classroom at Church or at our local Bible College. But I know that I can use a modified Socratic method to both communicate the content of the Bible and its authority. The Bible has authority regardless of my methods. Monologue, authoritative preaching is not the only way and not necessarily the best way to mature the saints in our world of lazy thinking people. I have been a Christian for 30 years and in full time ministry for 15, I have noticed that many churches that practice the method of preaching your are advocating are not producing fruit producing disciples. They are producing believers with a lot of knowledge and confidence that they are right, but in my opinion their light is not very bright in the world. They mostly hide in their churches and lob grenades out at other churches who don’t keep their traditions. Keeping the right methods and having correct doctrine does not guarantee that God is truly gloried in their churches. Forgive me for starting to rant. There is not doubt that many churches have brought the stool out to center stage as a symbol of a lost authority in the Church. This is indeed sad. But, returning a piece of furniture will not change hearts.
      If we went to non western churches we would probably see that in some of them the Pulpit has not been the symbol of authority. I believe that we have changed in our culture away from a Reformation style of ministry. We must keep the cry of the Reformation alive (Sola Scriptura), but forcing a Reformation method (i.e., a pulpit) will not restore that cry. We need to ask what methods do we use to keep this truth alive in our world today. Is this not an application of another cry of the reformation (Semper Reformanda). We must always be reforming that which is culturally bound in order to keep that which is not in the forefront.
      I will leave you alone now. I do appreciate your web siteand your diligence in teaching sound theology, so please keep up the good work. Also, thank you for causing me to think about this issue.

      Best regards

      Tony Slavin

    • Warren

      Tony (#71),

      Whether we like it or not, TV has changed how people learn and their ability to follow logical arguments (you probably have read “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman). I am biased in this discussion because I am the associate pastor of Adult Education in our church. I spend most of my time teaching in a classroom at Church or at our local Bible College. But I know that I can use a modified Socratic method to both communicate the content of the Bible and its authority. The Bible has authority regardless of my methods. Monologue, authoritative preaching is not the only way and not necessarily the best way to mature the saints in our world of lazy thinking people.

      I know your comment was aimed at Michael, but I hope you will humour me. I wonder if simple-minded methods are needed to present God’s Word because people in the pews are lazy thinking, or if people are lazy-thinking because simple-minded methods are used to present God’s Word? Rather than inspiring people to reach for higher levels, are lazy preachers and teachers aiming their message at the lowest common denominator because it means less preparation and effort on their part? For that matter, how many preachers and teachers are not well educated themselves, and do not pursue a vigorous program of self improvement – not just in things theological – but in a range of academic disciplines?

      With respect to the difference between teaching and preaching (or lack thereof as you are suggesting), I believe that, even in a secular context, most people have no trouble in understanding the clear difference between the two and readily recognize whether they are being taught or being preached to. To be very frank, I would not sit under the teaching of someone who could not draw a clear distinction.

    • Allan R. Lee

      “With respect to the difference between teaching and preaching (or lack thereof as you are suggesting), I believe that, even in a secular context, most people have no trouble in understanding the clear difference between the two and readily recognize whether they are being taught or being preached to. To be very frank, I would not sit under the teaching of someone who could not draw a clear distinction.”

      You have to be kidding!!!

    • Warren

      Allan (#73), you likely wouldn’t say that if you knew me; although it is rather unclear as to what you are getting at. Do you think that teaching is synonymous with preaching in the church? If you do, I suggest that the burden of proof lies with you. I don’t think a convincing case was made in #71.

    • Allan R. Lee

      Warren #74: I think it’s your wording that AMAZES me. For instance:

      1. “you likely wouldn’t say that if you knew me;” Then why write on this blog or any other – until AFTER you get to “KNOW” all of us ??

      2. “I would not sit under the teaching of someone who could not draw a clear distinction.” Then you must get to KNOW everyone you “sit under” BEFORE you do so. Who you DO “sit under” must be extremely limited.

      Re, my thoughts on “preaching/teaching” in today’s pulpits, please see my previous note [#19]: # Selah on 13 Apr 2009 at 10:03 pm “I agree – to a point! I believe that it is the entertaining/motivational-type “preaching” without the element of “expository TEACHING” that has brought the church – generally speaking – to its spiritually diluted, biblically illiterate condition it is in today. Such “preaching” has ruined “the church.”

      “it is rather unclear as to what you are getting at.” I hope this clear it up somewhat.

      “Do you think that teaching is synonymous with preaching in the church? If you do, I suggest that the burden of proof lies with you. I don’t think a convincing case was made in #71.”

      Well. let’s see “what Jesus would do” – or say” 🙂

      Re. “SERMON” on the Mount: Matt 5.2: 2 “He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, ..”

      Re. Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;”

      And Paul: 28 “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.”

      It appears that “PROCLAIMING” [preaching???] includes, if not is an expression or method of “teaching.” Why try to separate what God seems to have joined together? 🙂

      You know, Warren, maybe you’re right: You would understand what I’m saying “if you knew me.” 🙂

    • C. Barton

      There are few things more thrilling than hearing a well-known and authoritative speaker at a seminar or in an evening of discourse and preaching. For such a person to sit on a stool in blue jeans would, to me, be anticlimactic (unless his field is pop psychology or speed dating, etc.) I mean, there are reasons for things, and sometimes things (such as pulpits) help us in our perception and attending value of what is happening.
      Did anyone wear Dockers and golf shirts to their wedding?
      It just seems “right” to formalize and specialize certain traditional things in order to keep the unique value of them to the Church.
      I seem to remember what Jesus said about certain folks: we ought to show respect for those who sit in the seat of Biblical authority, even if their example is lousy!
      But I am convinced of better things in this, the New Covenant in His blood.

    • Kara Kittle

      I know people who dressed crazy for their wedding and did crazy things.

    • Allan

      Right on, Kara. I live on Paradise Island in the Bahamas – next door to Atlantis. They just married a couple in a fish tank! 🙂

      Here’s a newspaper clipping description of the event: : Braving the chilly waters, Linzi donned her original wedding dress and Daniel a traditional black and white tuxedo as they literally took the plunge for a second time.
      The event was not without its amusing moments as Linzi’s veil came off in her descent into the Ruins tank and then she had to learn how to elegantly walk underwater.”

      I enjoyed this – and I have an extremely higg and holy view of marriage! 🙂 🙂

    • Warren

      Allan (#75),

      1. “you likely wouldn’t say that if you knew me;” Then why write on this blog or any other – until AFTER you get to “KNOW” all of us ??

      Why do I write on this blog or any other? That’s a very good question, and one worth pondering even though your subsequent comments regarding teaching leave me unconvinced. I thank you for challenging me on this point.

      I guess I comment because I enjoy theological banter. I mostly comment on another blog that concerns a denomination that has been virtually ruined, in my country, by heresy, apostasy and false teaching. I check in here from time to time because I’ve completed a couple of TTP courses and I have considerable respect for Michael Patton.

      I don’t think that I have anything special to say, and I’m not naive enough to think that I will change anyone’s mind. I admit, however, to getting some enjoyment out of tweaking the noses of people who wear their presuppositions on their sleeve and who have difficulty applying logic (I’m speaking in general terms and am not pointing fingers at you). I try to keep my tone civil (and am normally successful), but sometimes adopt too much of a polemic tone.

      I also find that participating in blogs helps me to sharpen my own thinking and better understand what I believe and why. I even try to apply what I’ve learned through TTP. Occasionally I’m also challenged to examine some of my own presuppositions and modify my thinking. I have no denominational allegiance, and am only concerned with orthodox Christianity (mostly with an evangelical flavour, but not entirely).

      Now back to the issue of preaching and teaching. I suppose I really don’t know what your thesis is, or even if you are serious. If your thesis is that preaching has no special place within the church, then I don’t have much to discuss with you. Such a assertion would fly in face of most of church history and the great men upon whose shoulders we stand. I also think it reflects a wrong understanding of scripture. The importance and seriousness of preaching has been dealt with innumerable times by men much more Godly, educated, and wise than I, and I don’t have anything new to add.

      My hunch, however, is that you enjoy tweaking my nose as well; which is fair ball in a forum such as this.

      By the way, my comment quoted above was made in a rhetorical manner.

      My apologies to everyone else for dragging this thread so far off topic.

    • Allan

      Wow, Warren! We sound so much alike! 🙂

      I think you may have misread my view on [authentic!] preaching. My comment #19 relates to the ABUSE of preaching as per the “MOTIVATIONAL” / “ENTERTAINING” type that dominates the media rather than the Col 1:28-29 and 1 Cor. 2:1-5 type. I believe we share the same high view of AUTHENTIC preaching.

      And yes, I do tend to “tweak” and lean toward “irony” in much of my comments on blogs – just to keep things interesting – for me! 🙂


    • […] recently posed a similar question in his thoughts & questions on the forgotten pulpit. As with many of Patton’s posts, I appreciate his balanced approach. And Patton certainly […]

    • Steve Harmantas

      There is a simple explanation as to why the pulpit has been or is being removed…it stems from a spirit of rebellion against authority and absolute truth in God’s word. Rebellion in the sin of witchcraft.

      Today’s modern church has drifted so far off the beaten path. They have deviated from the word of God in their attempt to reach this generation introducing new ways.

      God is calling the church to repentance.

      Jeremiah 6:16 “Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see,
and ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.”

      Here are some recommendations that could turn your church around and bring God’s glory back into the church…

      • Turn the lights back on in the church. Get rid of the rock concert appearance and theatrical performances up front.
      • Forbid prayer stations, candles and icons.
      • Put a pulpit back on the platform and stop using a round table for a podium.
      • Preach sermons only from the Bible and preach the whole counsel of God.
      • Seek the Holy Spirit‘s guidance as to what messages need to be brought to the church.
      • Stop encouraging leaders to read church growth books and depart from anything that is emergent or new age.
      • Stop using new age Bible versions such as “The Message Bible”.
      • Re-introduce altar calls and spending time at the altar. Encourage people to pray before the service.
      • Get back to a 100% dependence on the moving of the Holy Spirit to transform lives.
      • Bring back traditional worship hymns & choruses; throw out any contemporary songs that are not worshipful. Eliminate hard rock worship songs.
      • Using an organ along with the piano will add much to the worship service. Also great for pre-service and interludes, etc.
      • Adding a choir adds much to the worship service.
      • Encourage people to dress more formal as we are coming before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Discourage casual sloppy immodest…
      • Don’t allow any male who ministers to wear any earrings or nose rings.
      • Teach people to reverence the house of God.
      • Let’s get back to striving for Holiness and instilling a healthy fear of God into people.

      2 Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

    • Dj Truth

      When I survey the wonderous pulpit on which the Lord Jesus teached. The power doesn’t come from thy spirit but from the box of wood from which I preach. The message of the cross, Jesus’ agony has no power unless the pulpit is made from pure mahogany.

    • […] recently read an article by C Michael Patton entitled The Forgotten Pulpit. I would encourage you to check out the entire article provided in the link above. Patton details […]

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