Can [preaching] really be simply a passing phenomenon destined to become outdated as we enter a more technologically oriented age of electronic communication media?
(Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p.29)
The Reformation and Evangelical Awakening may have been highlights in recent church history for preaching, but the fathers and apostles practised it, as did the OT prophets. The Bible and church history show it to be more than a passing phase.
Is it outdated? The message is obviously not because the Gospel is timeless. When held against electronic communication media the vast difference in method is apparent. But we must beware of this comparison because we are comparing chalk with cheese.
Electronic media are not communication oriented, at least not in the same way as other media. Neil Postman’s insightful analysis (which is shared by others) has shown us how they do not tend towards information but rather entertainment. Preaching is not entertainment (at least not if engaged in as God intended), and thus does not work in such media, unless great care is taken to ensure that the message is not overwhelmed or lost within the media itself.
Electronic communication media cannot, therefore, be used to outdate preaching. What is clear is that electronic communication media and preaching are out of step with each other, and not only in terms of technique, but ultimately in terms of content, which looks like the main thrust of Goldsworthy’s chapter (which I’ve only just started). This out of stepness is a necessary consequence of being in the world, but not of it.