Posts Tagged ‘Books’

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Book Review – “Preach The Word”

January 21, 2008

Last week I had the priviledge of reviewing Preach the Word: Essays in Expository Preaching In Honor of R Kent Hughes. For all the other reviews, check out the Discerning Reader website.

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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.

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Reasons to Get Reading, Reloaded

January 14, 2008

With all respect to blogs, I hope you don’t spend ALL your time reading them. Hopefully we preachers also make time to read some stimulating Christian books every month. Some time ago I posted on 20 Reasons to Read (Good Christian Books) and at the beginning of another year of reading I thought I would offer them again to hopefully encourage you.

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20 Reasons to Read (Good Christian Books)…

1. You will grow in your knowledge of God, yourself and the world around you
2. You will gain a better understanding of the bible, the book of books
3. You will broaden your English vocabluary, helping you to express similar truths to your congregation in fresh ways
4. You will have an improved imagination and actively engage your mind in a way that probably won’t occur when watching TV
5. You will be able to sit at the feet of some of the great Christian teachers and minds over the centuries (even if you have few ‘living’ teachers to assist you)
6. You will be forced to cease from incessant activity and think
7. You will receive a historical perspective on current problems and spot present day blindspots
8. You will have some of your questions answered and confront other questions you hadn’t even thought of
9. You will be able to practically apply Paul’s command to think upon “wholesome” things
10. You will develop a sense of how arguments are constructed and be able to weigh both strong and weak arguments
11. You will enjoy spiritual input during the week, not just on a Sunday (if not a pastor)
12. You will (if a pastor) be able to engage with other issues beyond this week’s text, thus broadening your perspective.
13. You will be able to mull over a subject. You will be able to put the book down to think, chew over a sentance or re-read a paragraph. You will be able to explore an issue at length, rather than brush over a topic too quickly
14. You will be better prepared for the task of evangelism, after reading clear presentations of the gospel by great communicators
15. You will be better prepared for the task of discipleship, having a good way to open up discussion about Christian life issues (what are you reading?)
16. You will be made aware of how Christians interpret and apply Scripture differently in various cultural contexts
17. You will gain information for your ignorance, inspiration for your weariness, and insight for complex problems
18. You will be better equipped to lead in your church, marriage and family
19. You will be stimulated, as in a good conversation, to new lines of thinking
20. You will be drawn to worship God, especially when the book centres on God not man

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Maintenance Update – Recommended Books

December 29, 2007

What books for the pastors library? Though hardly a comprehensive list, I’ve updated my string of recommendations. There are twenty two books pertaining to preaching, another thirty two on other topics.

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A Bit Less Preaching, Please?

December 13, 2007

Today’s Featured Toolbox is a provocative post I came across this week. Though I disagree with some of what Gordon Cheng proposes, I found it stimulating to reconsider why declarative preaching must have a central place. How would you respond to Cheng’s points? Not least – I’d be interested for any Richard Baxter experts to comment!

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A bit less on preaching, please.

I’ve never really agreed with the evangelical emphasis on preaching, and never quite understood how evangelicals make so much more of this than of other forms of teaching. It seems to me that the emphasis on public preaching, or should I say perhaps ‘pulpiteering’—as against private and personal ministry through, for example, conversation or Bible study groups—is quite unbiblical.

So I was heartened today to pick up Richard Baxter’s old but still revolutionary work The Reformed Pastor to discover that he agrees with me. He makes this sharp and relevant observation about ministry through conversation (or as he calls it, ‘interlocution’):

“I hope there are none so silly as to think this conference is not preaching. What? doth the number we speak to make it preaching? Or doth interlocution make it none? Surely a man may as truly preach to one, as to a thousand. And… if you examine, you will find that most of the preaching recorded in the New Testament, was by conference, and frequently interlocutory, and that with one or two, fewer or more, as opportunity served. Thus Christ himself did most commonly preach.”

Baxter gets around the difficulty I’m thinking about by redefining preaching, which is fair enough, I suppose. The quote is from p. 228 of my Banner of Truth edition, which I got for just under five bucks, a little while ago.

UPDATE: Gordon Cheng has added a helpful clarification comment in this posts comments section. Also, R. Scott Clark of Heidelblog has already replied on his blog and in our comments section. Here is the crux of it:

The practical reason that evangelicals still emphasize preaching, to the degree that emphasis still exists, is because they haven’t yet rid themselves of the every last vestige of the theology, piety, and practice of the Reformation or the original evangelicalism (as distinct from modern evangelicalism).

The original evangelicals, i.e. the Protestant Reformers emphasized the public proclamation of the Word (law and gospel) because they were convinced from Scripture that God has made promises specifically to use and bless the preached gospel (Rom 10). We summarize this understanding of the preached gospel by speaking of the preaching of the gospel as a “means of grace” (medium gratiae). It is our understanding of Paul’s teaching in Romans and elsewhere (e.g. 2 Tim 4:2) that the Spirit of God operates with and through Word (in the law) as it is preached to convict sinners of their sin and jeopardy before the all-holy God and through the Word (in the gospel) to raise them to life (regeneration), to give them faith, and to unite them to Christ.

Thus, in Heidelberg Catechism Q. 65 we confess that the Holy Spirit “works faith faith in our hearts through the preaching of the Holy Gospel and confirms it through the use of the holy sacraments.” We have a high view of preaching as a means of grace because Paul had a high view of the “foolishness” of gospel preaching (1 Cor 2). It doesn’t seem like it ought to “work” and if you’re looking for big numbers then call Bill Hybels or Bob Schuller. They know how to pull a crowd. If you want to know about preaching, however, look at Paul at Mars Hill. He preached the law and then he preached the gospel. Did he get a great response? Well Dennis (Dionysius) and a few others (Acts 17:34) followed him. That’s what happens sometimes. The Spirit blows where he wills (John 3).

What’s the big deal about preaching? It’s the vehicle, the instrument, the means by which God the Spirit brings his elect to faith. Otherwise, it’s not big deal.

Other Toolbox This Week
Challies Top 7 Books of 2007
Alliteration Device!
Puritan 2008
Baxter – How to Spend a Day With God
Allan Jacob’s on Pullman’s Trilogy
MP3 – Carson on Jeremiah
The Foolishness of Preaching
Some Excellent Historical Theology Books
Semi-galitarianism
Os Guinness on Evangelical Relevance
Geoff Grogan MP3: Expository Preaching – Some Important Principles
I almost Died – Noel Piper
Derek Thomas – Puritan Preaching and Conscionable Preaching
4 Reasons It Might be Worth Visiting Israel
News Report: British Ignorance Over Nativity
That Time Before You Speak
Philip Ryken Sermons List
Why Join a Small Church
You Might be a Bi-Vocational Pastor If…
G Campbell Morgan: A Preacher Come from God (pt 2)
G Campbell Morgan: A Preacher Come from God (pt 1)
What Sam Storms Believes