Thor Taught Me to Preach
Updated: May 19, 2020
In light of the widely popular and successful capstone to the Marvel comics enterprise, Avengers: End Game, and new access to it due to Disney+, I find it interesting to draw some similarities between one of the Avengers and one of our very number who wields a power far greater than the mystical hammer Moiljmeir. The similarities begin with the name. The Marvel character Thor of Asgaard and the real-life Thor of Kansas City. Perhaps this is where the similarities stop. The Kansas City Thor does not wear his hair in flowing golden locks, nor don a cape and body armor. His muscles do not melt hearts every time they are exposed, and he does not own a mystical hammer that will carry him into outer space and call down thunder and lightning. But then again, superheroes are fictional creations of God-given imaginations that ponder the ideas of supernatural power and abilities. They themselves are fictional. What is behind them, however, has an aroma of truth to it. Even though fiction and reality are at the forefront of their striking differences, the main difference between the Thor of Asgaard and the Thor of Kansas City is that one has actually received a supernatural tool and the power it holds… The Word of God. God, the supernatural being that transcends anything we know of eternality and sovereign power, unsearchable wisdom and intellect, pure holiness and righteous judgement, divine existence and amazing grace. His word; proceeding forth from His mouth bestowing on the universe life and existence, growth and fertility, knowledge and wisdom, and the visible manifestations of things that would otherwise only be imaginary. The reality of the supernatural is something the Thor of Kansas City is very familiar with. This Thor may be better known as Thor Madsen, Dean of Graduate Studies, PhD Program Director and Professor of New Testament, Ethics and Philosophy at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. You will not find him fighting off the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, but you will find him volunteering his service by sharing His knowledge of the Lord in preaching at various churches. This Thor is the one who taught me what it means to preach. Here a just a couple things that his biblical preaching hightlights.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. - Romans 1:16
It almost seems like it should go without saying. The gospel saves, not a preacher. He may be the mouthpiece, but not the power. But also, how will they hear without one? (Rom. 10:14) The pulpit ministry of Thor Madsen is most aptly characterized by a complete confidence in the word of God to do its work. There is no flash, no rehearsed one-liners, no southern draw with a dramatic cadence, and no awkward need for the attention and awe to be on him. In short, there is no show, there is only the Word in all its glory. Having the privilege of sitting under this type of weekly preaching for over a year, I began to see how a faithful gospel proclaimer invites people into a detailed look at the savior and not the man. This gives the task of preaching a beautiful simplicity. If complete faith is in the power of His word to accomplish all He wills, then we can put away our own anxieties before we ever stand behind a pulpit. In so doing, we echo the spirit of John the Baptist; “I must decrease, but He must increase.” (John 3:30)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! – Romans 11:33
If, as preachers, we assume to speak the Word of God, then why don’t we do just that? Why would we ever assume to teach the people of God something that God has not expressly taught in His word? Our theology of just who God is, as revealed in the Bible, will determine our approach to the task of preaching. Whether Calvinist or Arminian we can all come to an agreement that God is God. Therefore, it is He whose voice we need. His revelation of Himself is how we know anything about good, evil, knowledge, creation, and especially salvation. Our labors should be directed at uncovering what is revealed, not on our own brilliant ideas. This is modeled in Thor’s preaching. While having obtained much knowledge and being of high intellect, he is submitted to the sovereign God of the universe who declares all that is good and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
While Thor Madsen may not be fictionally capable of laying hold of Moiljmeir, he certainly demonstrates a powerfully glorious reality. The living God has given into the hearts and hands of His children, the Word which holds unending power, authority, and life for the good of His people and glory of His name.
Therefore, preaching could be summarized as wielding a supernatural word from a supernatural God, in hopes that a natural man or woman will encounter supernatural grace and walk in supernatural light.