From the title you might be guessing that this is a post about chess. Sorry, but no. It is a title about bad sermons with an attempt at a witty headline, but it got you this far so you might as well keep reading.
It is said that theology is the “Queen of the sciences,” and indeed that is so, but it is dangerous when someone mistakes the “queen” for the King. I recently heard a sermon where the preacher didn’t bother to quote from Scripture, aside from a couple of “glancing” mentions of two verses without citing what they even were. The sermon was based on the work of three theologians and their pontification on the death of Christ. I hesitate to give a great number of details about the sermon, firstly because it made no real significant point and secondly, because details might more readily identify the subject and I don’t wish to make this a personal issue.
I am certain that I will never desire to hear this person preach again, but it isn’t because I have any animosity toward the preacher. I just don’t see any point in “preaching” that doesn’t start, abide and end within the Word of God itself.
1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
There is nothing wrong with theology. It certainly is the “queen of the sciences.” It was so named because of the assertion that it is “the first among pursuits of knowledge, since it was believed that all other pursuits were vitally linked to its dictates.” But it is beyond credible to place the pontifications of theologians above the very Scripture that should be under-girding the arguments they make. Don’t base a sermon on the words of a few theologians who gave their opinions on why Christ had to die while asking the question “why did Christ have to die?” Go to Scripture and find the answer there!
1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-5
Paul didn’t beat around the bush about this. He said that Christ died “for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” This means that the reason Christ had to die is in Scripture. In fact, it is all over the place in the Old Testament since that is the Scriptures that Paul is referring to; but in the New Testament, you find the writers working again and again to explain these things, just as Jesus had taught them Himself. It may not be easy to follow or understand for everyone, but it is there. Read the book of Hebrews for a blow by blow discussion or look at other epistles like 1 John or 1 Peter for smaller explanations or statements.
This comes back to my original point. Don’t spend so much time talking about the queen, that you take the King from His throne. Theology is wonderful and can give us interesting conversations and loads of speculation, but she can never replace the King of Kings and she certainly doesn’t belong in His place. When some well meaning preacher allows the “queen” to kill the King, I am going to check out every time. I may not be able to get up and walk out (although don’t put it past me), but I won’t be there anymore mentally. Actually, in this case, I picked up the Bible in the pew in front of me and started to read a little bit. I figured if the guy delivering the sermon wasn’t going to read from the Bible in church at least I would. Suddenly, I found myself wishing that the guy had heard of this place before.
Here is a small piece of advice for young preachers or even old preachers who feel the need to awe others with your seminary knowledge and the ability to name-drop an obscure 12th century theologian for effect; DON’T. I don’t use caps lightly here. Listen. Stick to God’s Word. It has and will stand the test of time and it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”(2 Timothy 3:16b-17) People don’t need the “doctors of theology,” as much as they need the Great Physician.