Preach Like Carl Sagan, Not Neil deGrasse Tyson

by Luke Holmes October 24, 2017

 There were thousands of articles written about the recent solar eclipse. There were scientific explanations, helpful advice, and lots of information about those glasses. Many people walked outside to look up, some traveling hundreds of miles to be in the path of totality.

Many news channels had wall to wall coverage, each with their own man or woman of science to explain things. Some were meteorologists, some were actually astronomers, and others just people who found it all very interesting. I was not in the path of totality, but as I flipped around the channels on the tv, it became clear that not all the broadcasts were the same. Some of the newscasters were very interested in it and it showed. Some were only covering it because their boss made them, and it showed too. 

Later that day I came across this description of the movements of the sun by famed scientist Carl Sagan. A noted atheist, he was nonetheless very eloquent in his description of the cosmos.

"The reappearance of the crescent moon after the new moon; the return of the Sun after a total eclipse, the rising of the Sun in the morning after its troublesome absence at night were noted by people around the world; these phenomena spoke to our ancestors of the possibility of surviving death. Up there in the skies was also a metaphor of immorality." – Carl Sagan, Cosmos. 

The way that Sagan wrote provokes a sense of wonder in you, causing you to look up at the moon wondering how our ancestors saw it thousands of years ago.  His words invoke the themes of life and death and the way that people struggle with it. 

Compare this with the comments on the eclipse by a noted scientist of our time, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

"Total Solar Eclipses occur somewhere on Earth every two years, or so. So just calm yourself when people tell you they're rare" – Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter

Tyson is right in what he says, of course. But there is no wonder in his voice, nothing that makes you look up at the sky in amazement. Nothing about those words makes you contemplate life and death or your ancestors from thousands of years ago. 

When a preacher stands in the pulpit, he holds the Word of God in front of the people. But too often we preach in ways that make people think whatever is going on on Facebook is more interesting than our sermon. When we hold the good news of Jesus Christ in our hands, we should never bore someone with our words. 

The message of Christ and the cross is the greatest message of all. It is the news that even though we are lost we can be found, that even though we are stuck in the pit of sin that God can lift us up. Too often the message about living water can be preached in a way that is dryer than the desert.  The matter of fact way that Tyson spoke leaves no room for wonder, for mystery, or for amazement.  We do the same when we preach the glorious truths of Scripture as nothing more than to do lists or definitions from the dictionary. 

I know Carl Sagan did not believe in God, but he still spoke with wonder about His creation. Shouldn’t those of us who do believe in the God of creation speak with wonder about the glorious good news of the gospel. If you are in a position to share God's word as a preacher, Sunday School teacher, or FCA leader, you are sharing the most glorious truth in the world. It the good news that God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  The gospel is more glorious than all the treasures in the world, more majestic than the most soaring mountain peaks, more spectacular than a solar eclipse.

So preach like it.   

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