Integrity In The Proclamation Of The Gospel Titus 2:7–8 -- By: W. Randall Lolley
FM 4:2 (Spring 1987) p. 85
Integrity In The Proclamation Of The Gospel
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Show yourself in all respects a model of good deeds, and in your teaching show integrity (aphthoria), gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us. (RSV)
J. R., the famed anti-hero of the super soap, “Dallas,” said several episodes ago: “Once integrity goes, everything else is a piece of cake.”
I guess you could say that is the “Dallas gospel”—according to J. R.
And in that gospel integrity, like Tara, is “gone with the wind.”
But, what is it? What is this elusive reality so absent even from our preaching nowadays?
In trying to figure out what integrity is, I have been tempted to throw away Funk, Wagnall, Webster, Oxford, and Roget. They certainly do not have the last word on the subject.
The word comes to us from mathematics (integers/whole numbers) and not from ethics or homiletics.
I have to have a definition that makes sense to me. So here is mine. “Integrity” means honesty to God, to myself, and to others. Integrity is wholeness, entireness, completeness:
words and deeds
belief and behavior
dogma and pragma
shalom and eirene.
Integrity is not a big biblical word. It is used only sparingly in five books of the Old Testament and only once in the New Testament—Titus 2:7. It is a big biblical concept. The just right word for it is TRUTH. And in the New Testament, truth means ultimately, Jesus—Messiah—Immanuel—God With Us.
He said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
He said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
And preachers with integrity are people who listen, and listen, and listen to truth; who learn, and learn, and learn the truth; who live, and live, and live the truth, before they ever seek to speak the truth—and then, in love, they speak it though the heavens fall.
Nicholas Berdyaev, that probing Russian, has observed that nothing is so truly terrible as humanity when there ceases to be anything above it. Integ-
FM 4:2 (Spring 1987) p. 86
rity preachers always have Someone above their humanity—that is the Lord of Truth, pointing every sermon towards...
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