Lloyd Jones – Sermons that ‘Attack’

October 9, 2007

Attacking our congregation during the sermon might not seem a sensible idea. But Martyn Llyod Jones seemed to think so. In Preaching and Preachers (p 73) Jones reminds us that true preaching has an ‘element of attack in it.’ Therefore it is utterly unlike an ‘essay.’ The quote below reminds me that preaching a sermon isn’t the same as giving a lecture. We are looking to capture the throne of men’s hearts for Christ!

“He proceeds to write an essay, and then enters a pulpit and either reads or recites this essay which he has so prepared. But I suggest that that is not preaching at all; that really has very little, if anything, to do with preaching.

This is so, very largely, because there is no element of attack in it. If there is an element of attack in an essay it is correspondingly a bad essay. The essential character of an essay is that it should play with the ideas, and on the whole handle them lightly. An essay should have charm and elegance. It is a form of literature which should make interesting, entertaining and enjoyable reading; but it is not preaching.”



  1. “He proceeds to write an easy,…” Nice typo! 🙂

    I can disagree with MLJ about what makes a good essay (I think he is wrong here) and still agree with him about what makes a good sermon! Perhaps he was getting carried away with his rhetoric.

  2. David,

    With typos like that, you can see why my essays didn’t always get top marks…!

    I hear what you’re saying on the essay front (but is he speaking more in terms of style than substance?) Certainly my divinity lecturers warned us not to ‘preach’ in essays, but on the other hand they expected a ‘forceful argument.’ This is certainly part of preaching, and experience gained in essay writing no doubt helps us learn how to formulate arguments.

  3. Doesn’t he give the Scots a particularly hard time for turning sermons into essays?

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