Unlike many who come from a particular, and popular, theological tradition these days, I don’t believe the letter to the Romans is the most important part of the Bible. Nor do I believe it is the lens through which every other part of the Bible is to be filtered and interpreted.
I happen to believe the life and words of Jesus are the standard and everything else falls right in line behind him. But that’s another post.
So, in my study this morning, I come across the website of this reeeaaallly famous contemporary pastor-teacher and I stopped to check out what he had to say about preaching through Romans. Now I don’t necessarily run in his theological camp…and I definitely don’t agree with many of the doctrinal cornerstones he finds in Romans, but I do respect him and his commitment to serious study of the word.
However, I was kind of blown away by something I found there.
He has archived his entire preaching series through Romans. It’s a mere 225 sermons. 225. Over four years of Sundays. On the surface, the magnitude of that number is beyond impressive. As somebody who teaches the Bible every week, I’m humbled by his focus and diligence. Not to mention the hard work and discipline it must have taken to keep every sermon fresh and creative.
But there’s another side. The entire letter takes about an hour for the average reader to complete. But it takes ONE GUY nearly 200 hours to explain it? That’s a lot of hammering.
He’s not alone. Whole volumes have been written on single words out of the Bible. Books…by multiple authors…have been written on single concepts out of the Bible. Hey, I am personally guilty of spending 42 weeks preaching through the Sermon on the Mount.
Did Jesus really need me to take that long to explain what he was saying…something that takes about 20 minutes to read? Really?
I wonder if, in our effort to be scholarly and thorough and dedicated to Bible exposition, we aren’t simply pushing our own agendas. I wonder if we aren’t guilty of taking something that is really pretty simple and making it much more complicated than the Bible writers and characters intended it to be.
Here’s one thing I know: There’s no way I’m taking 225 weeks to preach through Romans.