The Pulpit, Reformation Day & Idolatry

Martin Luther und die Arbeit - Luther

“I have preached the gospel now these thirty years and more, and some of you will scarcely believe it, but before I come to address the congregation in this Tabernacle, I tremble like an aspen leaf. And often, in coming down this pulpit, have I felt my knees knock together–not that I am afraid of any one of my hearers, but I am thinking of that account which I must render to God, whether I speak his Word faithfully or not. On this service may hang the eternal destinies of many. O God, grant that we may all realize that this is a matter of the most solemn concern.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

This coming October 31, is Reformation Day.

This Sunday, many preachers will take the pulpit and deliver a message on Luther, the 95 theses and other aspects of this great event of protestant history.

As Sunday approaches, I am reminded once again of the solemnity of the very act of preaching. Moreso, I’m reminded of how the pulpit will, in some cases, perhaps be turned into a place of idolatry.

In a day of shallowness by both preachers and persons in the pew, much proclaimed from the pulpit is now acceptable that would have been unthinkable even 50 years ago.

These days, from the pulpit, encouraged by the congregations, we share a time of corporate gathering on Sundays honoring all sorts of people, events and things which should be a time focused on the proclamation and teaching of God’s Word to the glory of God alone. It should be a time when the saints are equipped and instructed from the Word of God by a man who, like Spurgeon, takes his calling with a healthy degree of the fear of God for what he is about to do. The responsibility for being held accountable for the souls of men sitting in the pew should be enough incentive for churches to remove those patriotic flags from the stage, to set aside other times for the honoring of American soldiers, and yes, another time for honoring even the Reformers.

Instead, often times we see entire services dedicated to honoring ‘our boys overseas’, American soldiers, fighting foreign wars. Not that I dissuade prayers for our soldiers, but a corporate gathering of the Church on Sundays for that purpose is simply not appropriate. It is the Sabbath. It is the Lord’s Day, not America’s. To use such times gathered together to focus more on American exceptionalism, the constitution or anything else while tacking on the Gospel or a quick mention of Jesus somewhere before the end of the service is nothing more than rank idolatry.

Likewise, this coming Sunday, let us be reminded that it is, yet again (DV), the Lord’s Day. It is to be for His glory, for His honor, and to the edification and instruction of His people to carry out His purposes.

If I could and if it were possible, I would carve on every pulpit, facing the preacher, “Sir, we would see Jesus, not Martin Luther.”

Let’s not turn the pulpit into a place where idolatry is encouraged.