Love, the Song of Solomon and Christ: a sermon series recommendation

(David) It seems to me that modern and ancient treatments of the Song of Solomon almost always fall entirely on one side or the other of a very broad spectrum of potential approaches.

Some (mostly ancient preachers and commentators) view the Song of Solomon almost entirely allegorically. They look at Song of Solomon and see only Christ, His love for His Bride and His Bride's love for Him and nothing at all of human romance or sexual union.

Others (mostly modern preachers and commentators) get all squirrely over the obviously sexual nature of the book and forget metaphor altogether in preaching and teaching from it.

No one ever seems to square the circle by fully acknowledging both the sex and the metaphor at the heart of Song of Solomon. Either it's Song of Solomon as sex manual taught by giggly-eyed graduates of the Young Life school of theology for whom any mention of sex serves the same function as the bell with Pavlov's dogs, or it's a droning dissertation on Jesus that has little to do with the actual text of Song of Solomon.

So when I read somewhere of John MacArthur's recent criticisms of preachers who speak of sex too much, I dismissed it as one school attacking the other. Frankly, I was fairly confident I'd prefer Mark Driscoll's take on Song of Solomon to John MacArthur's.

But this post in Mere Comments (thanks, Kamilla) about Mark Driscoll's preaching from the Song of Solomon is disturbing, if accurate. If Mark has divorced the pleasures of sex from the purpose of sex, as it appears he does in giving approval to sexual acts devoid of--in fact, preclusive of--procreative intent, he has become an apologist for one of the characteristic sins of our age.

It's hard to preach with integrity from Song of Solomon while maintaining a bluenosed resistance to speaking about romance, wooing, arousal and sexual union from the pulpit. In fact, it's tragic failure to preach God's truth in an area our world --and our children--need to hear it proclaimed. Song of Solomon is about these good things and our children need to hear this and know it. But it's more: it's sex and desire sanctified, given reason and meaning.

To hear preaching from the Song of Solomon faithful to both sides of the metaphor, listen to these sermons being preached this summer by Dr. Robert Forney in evening services at Christ the Word. Dr. Forney squares the circle on Song of Solomon. His preaching not only demonstrates why John MacArthur is wrong in criticizing talk of sex from the pulpit, he preaches about Christ from Song of Solomon in a way Mark Driscoll will forever be incapable of so long as he denies the fundamentally procreative nature of sex in God's economy.

Sermon 1 can be found here. Sermon 2 can be found here. The series will continue on the first and third Sundays of July and August.

Comments

I finished Sermon 1 last night. It was so good to hear Dr. Forney speak again and it was obvious that he considered carefuly how to stimulate his listeners to love and good deeds.

I did not realize how much of that first love I had forgotten. Thank You.

David,

Thank you for the sermon links. I'm listening to the first one - it's simply marvelous! Please convey my gratitude to Dr. Forney.

I was just struck, stopped mid-sentence in typing when he read, "Draw me after you, let us run together." She's not taking charge, she's asking him to lead. Over and over again, time after time, the deeper one dives into Scripture, the heresy of religious feminism becomes astoundingly obvious - so clearly wrongheade, it's a wonder they can still make their arguments with a straight face. It is beyond irony that they continue to attempt to lay the "proof-text" argument at the door of Patriarchalists when they are the ones with a few proof words they must go after and argue for again and again and again in order to have any sort of case with which to deceived people.

I must have wanted to be deceived, just are they seem willing to accept the deception still.

Kamilla

Recommending the same Touchstone Mere Comments discussion David refers to above concerning Mark Driscoll's preaching--"The Gospel of Mark (Driscoll) & His Critics" by Justin D. Barnard--my friend, James Altena, sent his friend this wise comment:

* * *
(Mr. Barnard's post) is magnificent. I have highlighted a portion that states succinctly the essential fault among many Evangelicals. They often accuse Roman Catholics of legalism and casuistry, but (Driscoll's) approach exemplified here is equally such -- merely in a different way. For legalism is not merely the creation of needless rules, or scrupulosity in observing them. It is rather a mindset that treats the Scriptures as a set of propositional statements and rules to be parsed literally, rather than as a framework of principles and precepts for the shaping of the mind and heart.

The legalism and casuistry here is one of a minimalistic literalism, which first reads Scripture as making merely specific and limited positivistic statements, and then twists those in order to say: “If it doesn’t say literally ‘You must do X,’ then I don’t have to do X, and Gospel liberty allows me to do whatever else I want to instead.”

This is of course licentiousness and not true Gospel liberty; it ignores the fact that even if the Scriptures do not specifically mandate or forbid some particular act X – and the Scriptures are not a comprehensive rule book of legal minutiae – it sets forth principles and precepts that lead to a direct conclusion as to whether doing or not doing X is good or bad. E.g., the Scriptures do not specifically forbid a man to marry and have sexual relations with a prepubescent girl. Do Driscoll, et al., seriously want to argue that such therefore lies within the parameters of Gospel liberty?

* * *

Then Mr. Altena particularly commends this part of Mr. Barnard's post:

"Driscoll’s teaching reflects an impoverished understanding of the Gospel. For it presupposes that the moral boundaries expressed in Scripture have no internal order. They are, in that respect, effectively arbitrary. Thus, in Driscoll’s view, provided that we remain within the arbitrary boundaries expressed in God’s word, God’s saving grace in Christ gives us license to follow our desires. In practice, this means for Driscoll that a husband and wife may do things in their marriage bed that a gay couple may not since the former, having had their souls saved from the disembodied stains of sin, are doing such things within the essentially arbitrary boundaries that God has given.

"Such a view is deeply mistaken. The Gospel does not free us to give license to our desires; it orders our desires aright."

It seems to me Mr. Altena and Mr. Barnard are quite right in their critique of evangelicalism's legalism. But it's certainly not limited to sex. I well remember a former IVCF staff worker who was now an elder of a church I was serving announcing to the elders board that "Let a man examine himself" precluded any other men, particularly his elders, examining him, also.

David, I really liked this sermon. I also liked yours on 2 Tim 2:14

http://www.christtheword.com/sermon/2-ti-214/

Both sermons deal with what I've really been struggling with lately which is between the heart and mind of a Christian. It seems to me that many of my friends, and probably myself, use one to destroy the other rather than both to strengthen each other.

The one on 2 Tim 2:10 was excellent as well.

-Clint

I think what is lost on everyone's mind is that Songs of Solomon itself ties sex with procreation. See 3:4 and 8:5. I look in vain for this mention in many evangelical talks on this book.

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