Theology on Fire!

January 9, 2007

Today’s Classic Materials certainly lives up to its name. It’s Martyn Lloyd Jones (in Preaching and Preachers) with his vintage definition of preaching:


“There was an old preacher whom I knew very well in Wales. He was a very able old man and a good theologian; but, I am sorry to say that, he had a tendency to cynicism. But he was a very acute critic. On one ocassion he was present at a synod in the final session of which two men were preaching. Both these men were professors of theology.

The first man preached, and when he had finished this old preacher, this old critic turned to his neighbour and said, ‘Light without heat.’ Then the second professor preached – he was an older man and somewhat emotional. When he had finished the old cynic turned to his neighbour and said, ‘Heat without light.’

Now he was right in both cases. But the important point is that both preachers were defective. You must have light and heat, sermon plus preaching.

Light without heat never affects anybody; heat without light is of no permanent value. It may have a passing temporal effect but it does not really help your people and build them up and really deal with them.

What is preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason!

Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning this Truth ought to be mightily eloquent, as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain is a defective theology; or at least the man’s understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.

A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsover to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one.”


  1. Amen! That is absolutely right! Light and heat!

  2. Excellent. Thanks for the reminder.

    This reminds me of Mark Driscoll’s point when he talks about how many believe that preaching is dead these days. People don’t like preaching, according to recent polls and church attendance. But Driscoll says, it’s not preaching that repels, it is bad preaching and boring preaching that repels. His sermons go on for 50 or 60 minutes and he has a very large church. People like to listen to good preaching.

    Also reminds me of Jesus’s preaching. The ultimate example of preaching with light and heat.

  3. Great post and a great definition of preaching.

    I used to love to watch and listen to the open air speakers as a kid, on a Sunday night in Glasgow. They were all different, but the ones that attracted me, were those who were passionate in their speaking.

    Be encouraged.

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