The preacher has neither authority nor right to use the pulpit as a place to express his own opinions on anything: the pulpit is not a soapbox. Too many preachers have exaggerated, arrogant, and unscriptural notions of their office whereby they assume the prerogative of dictating the consciences of their people in every sphere of life. That is popery, and there is no place for it in the Church of Christ. (Michael Barrett, The Beauty of Holiness: A Guide to Biblical Worship, 92)
This quotation from Barrett raises some good questions that need to be discussed:
- What is a rightful use of one’s authority in the pulpit?
- How should a preacher view himself in relationship to the Word he preaches and the people to whom he preaches?
- Do personal opinions have any place in preaching? If not, why not? If so, why? And if so, how should they be presented in a sermon?
- What is the relationship of Christian preaching to the conscience of a believer? When has a preacher crossed the line of his God-given authority?
- Is it legitimate for a preacher to apply the Scripture to “every sphere of life”?