In short: A treasure trove of essays on expository preaching that deals with the subject from a variety of angles.
Pastor R. Kent Hughes – recently retired pastor of College Church, Wheaton – is well known for his long standing commitment to expository preaching. So it seemed fitting that to celebrate his legacy a book should be produced in his honour on his favourite subject: preaching!
The wonderful festschrift that has emerged should make a worthy addition to any pastor’s bookshelf: Preach the Word – Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R Kent Hughes. Edited by Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson, the spotlight on the theme of biblical exposition, alongside their obvious affection for Hughes, gives this volume a more unified feel than many other ‘pick and mix’ compilations you come across.
The quality of essays is truly excellent across the board, something which obviously hinges on the quality of contributors. With the likes of David Jackman, Don Carson, J.I. Packer, Wayne Grudem, Peter Jensen and John MacArthur – to name a few – it is no surprise to find that all the essays are thoughtful, biblical, and written with the steady hand of experienced men. Leading the pack, choice essays include Leyland Ryken’s “The Bible as Literature and Expository Preaching”, Don Carson’s study of “The 21st Century Pulpit” and “Few are Not Enough: Training a Generation of Men in Expository Preaching.”
The sheer variety of essays examines preaching from a whole range of perspectives. Preaching is considered in Scripture itself and also in history. Hermeneutical principles and practices which underline preaching are analyzed. Finally, contemporary challenges to preaching – including the enormous challenge of training a new generation of expositors – is approached. Both novice and mature preachers, as well as those who train preachers, will benefit from essays of interest within such a broad scope.
Are there any weaknesses in this compilation? Only the usual problems in a book of this type (no developing argument; changing styles throughout etc), and it should be said that this is no introductory book on preaching. Nevertheless, Preach the Word has come together as a remarkable unity and has the feel of a single volume, which is a great credit to the editors, authors and R. Kent Hughes himself, who ceaseless promotes the preaching of God’s Word.
Posts Tagged ‘Exposition’
Part of that article made the following statement: “Preaching as it is practised in modern churches is extra-biblical, a poor form of communication, and creates dependency.” Really? Here’s how I would respond – though you may have more to add:
First, preaching as is practiced in modern churches (if by that the author means a herald who proclaims and explains God’s Word) is not extra biblical. Such a suggestion is unfounded and easily refuted by just a cursory reading of Scripture. Moses restates, explains and applies God’s law in Deuteronomy. Ezra gives ‘the sense’ of God’s precepts when the temple is rebuilt. Jesus expounds God’s law and applies it more fully in the Sermon on the Mount. Paul’s life and teaching are replete with Old Testament exposition (even Acts 17 can be shown, in its ‘content’, to be founded on several key OT passages). Last but not least, the author of Hebrews performs detailed exposition from the Law, prophets and psalms. See some very basic support for all this here.
Second, even if preaching were a poor form of communication, this would be primarily a cultural, pragmatic and experiencial argument – not a biblical one. Having questioned the supposedly ‘monologue’ sermon myself in past years, looking back I can see that the underlying issue was that I didn’t want to sit ‘under’ God’s Word. Such would involve one’s mouth being shut, ears being open, and heart being ready to embrace whatever challenge or correction God would bring. Furthermore, I’m not sure that even the pragmatic argument works. On the one hand, I could point to secular audiences (congregations!) who listen to stand up comedians for an hour straight – and twenty somethings at the likes of Mars Hill, Seattle and Redeemer, New York who sit with rapt attention for long periods (at Mars hill, for an hour and a half). On the other hand, it can as easily be argued – ‘experiencially’ – that dialogue can be less than helpful. My common ‘experience’ of discussion without a firm lead has been pooled ignorance, not a growing understanding of God. That said, discussion and questions as a ‘response’ to God’s Word is imperative, not least if we are going to listen to the bible AND ‘do what it says.’
Third, preaching need not necessarily create dependence. Certainly it can do, especially if preacher’s only show the fruits of their study and never how they worked to get there. Also there is a kind of preacher who tries to assert that they have some special interpretive ability that no other in the congregation posesses. In such a situation congregants become like parrot’s: ‘pastor______ says…’ Nevertheless, in churches where clear exposition occurs, the opposite is often the case. Precisely BECAUSE good interpretation is modelled, church members become more able to handle the bible themselves. Almost without fail, Christians who transfer to our chrch from other good bible expositing churches are the most capable in handling their bibles.
In total, my Workman’s Info includes:
Fellow Scottish preachers (sorry everyone else!!) clear out your diaries for the month of March and pen in the following date: Friday 7th of March.
The speaker for the day will be Liam Goligher, of Duke Street Church, Richmond Surrey, who exercises an international preaching ministry, and is a regular speaker at events such as the Keswick Convention. Liam will bring teaching based on 2 Timothy, aimed to encourage, and challenge those in regular preaching ministry.
Dr Ian Shaw, Lecturer in Church History at ICC, will also draw lessons for preachers today from the life of John Bunyan.
The full blurb for the Not Ashamed! event can be found here. Non-preachers should also consider the evening session (open to all) at Harper Memorial Church, with Liam Golligher speaking on “To Preach or Not to Preach?”
“Hi Colin and Scott,
Thanks again for your responses. Yes, the title was provocative, but I’m not sure I want to elevate preaching just *because* our culture tends to denigrate it. I’m not persuaded that the New Testament itself puts pulpit preaching as a word ministry of greater value than any other, and I’m trying to reflect that in my thoughts on the blog (I’ve just posted another Baxter quote, by the way, see:
If you were going to elevate one particular word ministry as more important, wouldn’t it be apostleship? All our other word ministries are, after all, dedicating to highlighting, explaining, and applying the apostolic word above all others (I include the NT gospels as an apostolic word, by the way, on the grounds of John 14:26).
As to your question: How practically can the preaching-pastor elevate the importance of other forms of Word-ministry in his church without diminishing his commitment to pulpit preaching?
By recognizing their complementary nature, as Baxter does. If I meet people one-to-one, I will be a more effective preacher. If other people in the congregation (elders) run better Bible studies, the Sunday sermonizing will have greater impact. And so on. You don’t have to sacrifice the one to build up the other, although sometimes I think we could do with slightly less well-crafted sermon because the minister was too busy trying to meet with and help support Bible study leaders (for example).
Thanks for your kind comments about the Briefing! And God bless your blogging, which is a word ministry in its own right.
Scott: I don’t really agree with any of the assumptions you are imputing to me, so I am more than happy for you to criticize them, as they represent someone else’s position. As far as I am concerned, the New Testament is perfectly clear that some of the believers are set apart for specific roles as elders and teachers, and that should be the norm in our churches today.
(On Ephesians 4, I wonder if you have paid enough attention to the Jew-
Gentile question? Not that this is fundamental to our discussion, but I believe it is fundamental to Ephesians in general and Ephesians 4 in particular).”
The context for Gordon Cheng’s latest response is a series of previous posts: A Bit Less Preaching Please?, A Bit More Preaching in Pulpit and Beyond and What’s the Big Deal About Preaching? (R Scott Clark)