Book Review – The Problem of the Gifted Speaker

I listened to this short book, if it can be called that, via Reconstructionist Radio Audiobooks which are FREE. You can also download a free PDF or purchase a copy of this book and a few others through the Kuyper Foundation.

It has been a few weeks since I listened to this work, but I still wanted to offer a few thoughts.

In short, the American church certainly does have an idolatry problem with gifted speakers. Gifted speakers aren’t the problem, but we make them a problem. This is the main thrust of the essay.

Whole congregations are often built around the speaking abilities of one man. When that man dies, leaves, or goes through scandal, the congregation basically dwindles. Why? Likely because the congregation was not built around the Word of God, the sacraments, and the mission of the Church, but was built around one man’s rhetoric. Likewise, the man is respected so much for his speaking abilities, rather than his godliness, that he can often times get away with being unfaithful to the Word of God.

Given, in some instances, God has especially gifted a man with the ability to communicate God’s Word in such a way that is obviously a work of the Spirit. We should be exceedingly grateful for this. However, while the ability to teach is a qualification for an elder, the ability to give a highly engaging hour long sermon is not. The normative example throughout Scripture is not men who speak well and thus lead well, but is actually the opposite. Men who are apparently terrible public speakers, but are still tremendously gifted teachers, leaders, and builders of the Kingdom of God – i.e. Moses & Paul.  Perks makes some outstanding points and gets to a real idolatry problem in the American church. He also gives some clear historical background to how we got to where we are today.

Here is a minor push back, however, which I already mentioned. God does gift men with the exceptional ability to speak well and to give long messages that don’t make folks fall asleep and plunge from a window to their deaths. This isn’t normative in Scripture, and shouldn’t be the main thrust of pastoral ministry and the Church’s ministry as a whole. But it is something we should be grateful to God for, so long as these men are faithful to the Word and are using their abilities to equip the Church for the work of the ministry, not just to put people in pews and puff up their own egos. I am sure Perks would agree with this, but I just thought it helpful to point out.

I highly suggest this short, easy to read (or listen to) work for every modern day evangelical.



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