Bags of Bran

“Full Homage”
December 10, 2014, 8:49 am
Filed under: Bible, Biography, Destined to get me in trouble

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

This beautiful and haunting poem was recently posted on another blog, prompting a slightly depressing, yet necessary, discussion. It got me to thinking: what would “full homage” look like in our day?

Answer: I could not answer that yet.

In one generation, such considerations led Simeon Stylites to live on top of a pillar. Against his wishes, he became somewhat of a tourist attraction.

In the very next generation, men of derivative piety, wishing to become tourist attractions, began living on top of pillars.

I don’t think that the answer lives in a list of steps or methods, with all due respect to those neo-Calvinist websites whose stock-in-trade consists almost entirely of “MASTER [spiritual discipline] IN [small number] EASY STEPS USING THIS WEIRD TRICK” advice. Clichésslogans, buzzwords, and all the fancy graphics that prop them up haven’t helped dispel the sense that this is an age of derivative piety.

Going through the motions of the Puritans, for example, by quoting from The Valley of Vision is not creating another generation of people with Puritan sensibilities: it’s making people who sit around (or who hire staff to sit around) and play with Adobe InDesign appear more clever and spiritually-minded than the rest of us.

Why does The Valley of Vision sound so much more sublime than anything being written on prayer today?

Because it is.

Probably unrelated: why do so many of the preaching books on my shelf tell me that I need to “preach with passion?” Yeah, I know: “passion” is the wrong word here. But what these spokesmen for the conservation of the Christian faith mean (I assume, in all charity) is, “preach like you feel like what you’re saying is true.”

Why do preachers need to be told to pretend that they feel like what they’re saying is true?

What if we could simply assume that a preacher actually felt like what he was saying were true?

As a provisional starting-point, “full homage” would not look like a religion whose spokesmen believe that preachers need to be told to pretend that they feel like what they are saying is true.


2 Comments so far
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Thank you, Chris, for your observations on “full homage.” You voiced clearly what the statement to “preach with passion” really communicates.

My personal conviction is that if the appropriate affections are not communicated in the pulpit then the pastor has not engaged in adequate godly prayer over the biblical text at hand. Perhaps these same individuals who are requiring that pastors preach with passion would also require that they pray with passion.


Comment by Jeremy

I tend to think that “passion” is one of those words that causes more confusion than it’s worth. It used to denote appetites, but now vaguely denotes strong feeling of any kind. It really lacks precision where precision is needed most. Just like “rage” is an inept substitute for “wrath,” “passion” says a whole ugly mess of things, while, say, “holy zeal for [proper object]” says the right thing.


Comment by christopheram

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