Posts Tagged ‘expository preaching’

Hughes Old on the preaching of John MacArthur

The latest volume in Hughes Oliphant Old’s series The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures has been released as volume 7: Our Own Time. Probably of interest to our readers, Phil Johnson has published the section on “The Preaching of John MacArthur” (read the entire passage here). I have greatly enjoyed Old’s magisterial history of preaching even if his Barthian perspective shows itself at times. There is, quite frankly, nothing else like it. It is light years beyond E. C. Dargan’s history (also John Broadus and T. Harwood Pattison’s works are smaller, less detailed). O. C. Edwards is too brief and his narrow focus reveals that he has a neo-orthodox axe to grind.

Old is not entirely committed to the same theological persuasion as MacArthur yet makes an interesting observation:

What is more than clear to me after listening to these sermons is that those who can take the text the way it is seem to make a lot more sense of it than those who are always trying to second-guess it. Surely one of the greatest strengths of MacArthur’s preaching ministry is his complete confidence in the text . . . .

Also this:

Why do so many people listen to MacArthur, this product of all the wrong schools? How can he pack out a church on Sunday morning in an age in which church attendance has seriously lagged? Here is a preacher who has nothing in the way of a winning personality, good looks, or charm. Here is a preacher who offers us nothing in the way of sophisticated homiletical packaging. No one would suggest that he is a master of the art of oratory. What he seems to have is a witness to true authority. He recognizes in Scripture the Word of God, and when he preaches, it is Scripture that one hears. It is not that the words of John MacArthur are so interesting as it is that the Word of God is of surpassing interest. That is why one listens.

“That’s a beautiful picture son” and other lies you’ve heard

So you’re fresh out of seminary or you’re about to finish and soon you will find yourself preaching week in and week out. Your first series may take off because after all you’ve already taught it to a small group Bible study with the youth or something like that. Maybe your first series is the “fruit” of an exegetical project you were proud of so now all you have to do is polish the apples and that series will fly . . . right? Listen to the advice of Russell Moore:

Young preachers, your first few sermons are always terrible, no matter who you are. If you think your first few sermons are great, you’re probably self-deceived. If the folks in your home church think your first few sermons are great, it’s probably because they love you and they’re proud of you. If it’s a good, supportive church there’s as much objectivity there as a grandparent evaluating the “I Love You Grandma” artwork handed to them by the five year-old in their family. So your first set of sermons, unless you’re very atypical, are probably really, really bad. So what?

Read the rest of his “Two Cheers for Bad Preaching” here.

A little less talk and a lot more action

Where is the balance of application in preaching today? Some say that sermons have drifted toward the cerebral side of things and have neglected application. However Shaddix questions the conventional wisdom and seems to think it may be the other way around. What do you think?

“More application is preached than exegesis . . . While preaching may have once erred on the side of weighty exegesis with no connection to the real world, its contemporary crime is reverse. Today, application is the sermon and exegesis is the servant.”

[from Jim Shaddix, The Passion Driven Sermon: Changing the Way Pastors Preach and Congregations Listen (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 101.]

Second person preaching

“Many preachers are tempted to identify themselves with the congregation in preaching, rather than with God. This may be the most significant reason for their feeling ill at ease in speaking to their congregation in the second person. Such preachers do not want their people to get the impression that the preacher is holier than them — for preachers know they are not . . . If a man, even for the most noble of motives, identifies himself primarily with the congregation in preaching, rather than with God, the best he will be able to do is speak as one sinner to other sinners about God. He will not be able to speak from God to them” (Wagner, Tongues Aflame, p. 74).

So what do you think?

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