Homiletic method

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Edwards

Puritan Board Freshman
Sincere thanks! I appreciate the feedback. A follow up question...What are the best books on preaching?


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greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Dabney, Shedd, Perkins, T. David Gordon, Tim Keller (yes, his book on preaching is actually quite good), Hughes Oliphant Old's history of preaching, and Dennis Johnson.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
To your first question, I'd suggest that the mainstay should be verse-by-verse exposition. However, there is a legitimate place for an occasional topical/theological sermon/series. So, I'd suggest that the norm is lectio continua, occasionally punctuated with topical/theological sermons.

(For example, I'm about to conclude the Gospel of Mark after nearly a year in it. For October, since there are 5 Sundays, I'll be doing a series on the "Solas of the Reformation" to underscore why those concepts were crucial then, and vital now.)
 

Edwards

Puritan Board Freshman
Heartfelt thanks to you for the input I do appreciate it very much!! Will take a look at the books you suggested and lectio continua as the general norm. Is there anyone still using Perkins' method today? I'll be interested to know. Sincere thanks


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BGF

Puritan Board Sophomore
Are we all ignoring the obvious here?

First, I'd like to know what preacher's gonna fit in a nutshell?!
Perhaps a small town pastor of a small church in one our fine presbyterian micro-denominations.
 

Edwards

Puritan Board Freshman
I appreciate the feedback and links...will take a look at them


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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I actually think we need less verse-by-verse exposition and more theological preaching. I worry sometimes about how much basic theology any given congregation actually knows. There are some pretty ignorant Christians out there - even Reformed Christians - even though many have sat under verse-by-verse preaching for many years.

Spurgeon, of course, comes to mind. Taking a text instead of going through a book. You can get a lot of good theology from his sermons, plus you can find at least one sermon from almost every book of the Bible (and he's usually careful to give you the context of the verse he's taking before he launches out). How many guys who spend three years grinding through Galatians will be able to say that at the end of their ministries?

I once heard John MacArthur preach a theological sermon. Each point he made was bathed in Scripture, but the sermon was about a specific point of theology. I think we need more of that - a lot more of that.
 

KBorg

Puritan Board Freshman
Put five different preachers in the room and you'll likely get six different homiletical methods. I'm probably not popular for saying it, but even saying methods like "expository preaching" aren't, at least in practice, helpful to me. Even among the most ardent expository preachers of our day there's a practical difference. John MacArthur's preaching isn't that much like John Piper's and both differ from Lloyd-Jones, and DA Carson once said that if you take eight years to preach through Romans (ahem...Piper) you've likely not preached expositionally. There's a lot to be gleaned from good homiletical books and I'd especially recommend Lloyd-Jones Preaching and Preachers and Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students. But at the end of the day I think the very best method is the statement on preaching in the Westminster Directory for Publick Worship...it can't be topped. Cheers!
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Yes, Westminster's Directory for Public Worship is a good summary. It follows Perkins, and is more hashed out by Peter VanMastricht's work, The Best Method of Preaching; which every minister preaching should read, study and use. Its published by RHB for pennies. Then there is Vinet's masterful work, which everyone (like Dabney, Bridges, Plumer, Taylor, etc.) quotes exstensively, but we are about half way through publishing it. (Look for that in October.)
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
I actually think we need less verse-by-verse exposition and more theological preaching. I worry sometimes about how much basic theology any given congregation actually knows. There are some pretty ignorant Christians out there - even Reformed Christians - even though many have sat under verse-by-verse preaching for many years.

Spurgeon, of course, comes to mind. Taking a text instead of going through a book. You can get a lot of good theology from his sermons, plus you can find at least one sermon from almost every book of the Bible (and he's usually careful to give you the context of the verse he's taking before he launches out). How many guys who spend three years grinding through Galatians will be able to say that at the end of their ministries?

I once heard John MacArthur preach a theological sermon. Each point he made was bathed in Scripture, but the sermon was about a specific point of theology. I think we need more of that - a lot more of that.
Robert, I know you are a Presbyterian; but are you talking about the type of preaching associated with Heidelberg Catechism preaching?
 

Edwards

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the comments and the reference to the Westminster directory for publick worship. Will also take a look at VanMastrich and Vinet. Enjoyed listening to some of your preaching Matthew! Sincere thanks


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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Robert, I know you are a Presbyterian; but are you talking about the type of preaching associated with Heidelberg Catechism preaching?
I don't know who Robert is, but I'm thinking somewhat along those lines, although I think theological preaching, like verse-by-verse preaching, should be done straight from the Scriptures. This would be more work (or at least a different kind of work) than verse-by-verse preaching but, as I wrote before, I think it's necessary. Again, Spurgeon (and others, of course) shows that there is real value in the "taking a text" (for lack of a better title) approach.

I admit I go back and forth on the subject of preaching from the Heidelberger (or other texts of that type). I see the value of it, but it sort of bugs me that they're preaching from a man-made document, not the Scriptures (although their sermons are always larded with Scripture). Doesn't seem to bother the Dutch side of the Reformed world; they've been fine with it for several centuries now. I do find Theodorus Vandergroe's two-volume exposition of the HC very edifying. As I say, I'm a little torn on the subject.
 

Held Fast

Puritan Board Freshman
I cannot find the reference at the moment, but I have in my notes a Puritan model of preaching that was both expositional and theological. I believe it followed the pattern of text, context, doctrine, application ... so that in each exposition the doctrinal points are intentionally lifted out of that day's passage, not taken for granted. And the application then winds up always as applied theology, rather than using the narrative solely as model for daily life. I want to say Packer wrote an article on it ... someone here may know what I'm thinking of.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
If one wants to be "encouraged" to preach better, then Lloyd-Jones is a good encouragement. But I wouldn't use it as a manual.
You aren't going to find anything better out there besides Perkins, VanMastricht, and Vinet. Most of the other works written on Homiletics all look to these 3.
 

Clark-Tillian

Puritan Board Freshman
Above all else, one must be faithful to the text's original meaning. A text cannot mean what it never meant. Only once that has been determined and delineated, may we homiletically move towards contemporary application. BTW "application" doesn't necessarily denote "5 Steps to a Great Marriage" etc. If a person grows in anyway whatsoever, then application has occurred. Christlikeness is always the goal. Progressive Sanctification.
 

Clark-Tillian

Puritan Board Freshman
Now, if by "method" you're signifying "presentation", then there are multiple presentation methods. I like to expound a book pericope by pericope (verse by verse can easily overlook context), then the next series I might do something topical for a few weeks-- like select parts of the Proverbs. I'd find it mind numbing to listen to a verse for verse analysis of Proverbs 1-31. Or I might do a series on the Decalog, as opposed to all of Exodus or Deut. Preaching through a book isn't necessarily "expository" if you stray from the original intent/meaning of the book under view, coupled with a precise grasp of how a pericope fits into the overall frame of a book, coupled with a precise grasp of how the book, and the author, fit into the chronology of God's progressive revelation in Holy Writ. Eg. you can't begin to understand Hebrews if you do not get Leviticus--it's impossible. Now, a novice might preach an orthodox topical message on "faith" using Hebrews 11, in part or in whole. But even if he goes word for word it's not genuine exposition if those meta-contextual elements are either overlooked, or unknown. Overlooking meta-contextualities is, in my view, homiletical misfeasance; one doesn't have to constantly point these out, but they must be made clear. If the meta-contextualities are unknown, then this is simply homiletical ignorance.
 

Clark-Tillian

Puritan Board Freshman
I know he gets slammed on PB, but I learned from Bryan Chapell when he was just hitting his stride--Covenant Seminary 96-00. Do I hear someone calling for an auto de fe? Subtle attempt at humor--which, btw, Bryan generally disdained in the pulpit; he's no Fred Craddock. Mr. Chapell gets a bad rap. Very cordial man. But he was utterly brutal in his analysis of everything a student said. Literally. Every assertion, every illustration, every application had to be proven--without ANY doubt--to have been directly derived from the text at hand; the main points had to have major markers from the text; the sub-points had to be directly derived from the previous main point, which forced you to stay in the text. He put us in a box, and when we strayed he slammed us. Hard. Always graciously though ;). Ask anyone who was there in that time period, and they'll agree. I think that was his greatest strength--get the original meaning of the text and stay there under every circumstance. If you did that then you were being faithful to the text which was always priority number 1--actually it was his only priority. He demanded, yes "demanded", that we prove that we'd been faithful to the original authorial intent of the text. If we strayed we didn't get grace--we got law! And that was reflected in your grade.

He acknowledged that as we grew through the years the "box" would widen and lengthen, but the wood of the box must remain the same. (That's my analogy--I do not recall him using that metaphor in this way). I've heard some, who never studied under him, rail that he's all about the "stories". He wasn't. He hated "stories" for any purpose beside expounding the text at hand. Good night, if you told a tale--even if it made a valid point--and you couldn't prove it pointed to your text, then you got the axe. He pointed out that many a Puritan used vivid metaphors in preaching, and he would classify these as "illustrations". But they would only be valid if they pointed to the original intent of the text, and the Puritans were known for sticking with the text. I preach nothing like Bryan, but I've never forgotten his emphasis on text, text, text, text!
 
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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
I cannot find the reference at the moment, but I have in my notes a Puritan model of preaching that was both expositional and theological. I believe it followed the pattern of text, context, doctrine, application ... so that in each exposition the doctrinal points are intentionally lifted out of that day's passage, not taken for granted. And the application then winds up always as applied theology, rather than using the narrative solely as model for daily life. I want to say Packer wrote an article on it ... someone here may know what I'm thinking of.
Probably one of these contains the thought:
https://www.monergism.com/puritan-view-preaching-gospel
http://www.reformation21.org/articles/a-classical-analysis-of-puritan-preaching.php
 

Clark-Tillian

Puritan Board Freshman
Okay, one last post here. Funny story. During a lecture, in September '96, in Introductory Homiletics, Bryan insisted that you NEVER used a person in an illustration without their prior consent. I muttered under my breath, "What manner of idiot would do that?" Yes, you know where I'm headed. Jump to June '97, and I'm an intern. First sermon, first main point, first sub-point, first illustration and I use the youngest son of the RE in charge of my internship in a humorous way to make a homiletically valid, textually driven, theologically precise point. Everyone was laughing. The Session, the Diaconate, the Mom, the family. Everyone, that is, except the RE who gave me a look that could best be described as "icy". I kind of saw Bryan's apparition in the rear of the sanctuary, rather like Hamlet's daddy, shaking his head saying: "Kevin, what manner of idiot are you?" That RE and I are still great friends. I really should tell Bryan that story.
 

Clark-Tillian

Puritan Board Freshman
If one wants to be "encouraged" to preach better, then Lloyd-Jones is a good encouragement. But I wouldn't use it as a manual.
You aren't going to find anything better out there besides Perkins, VanMastricht, and Vinet. Most of the other works written on Homiletics all look to these 3.
Agreed. A great man used mightily by Our Lord. But, frankly, he did not expound the texts precisely in a consistent manner. Perkins is sublime. Dabney is awfully good, as well. But Perkins is the fons et origo of solidly Reformed preaching instruction.
 

Clark-Tillian

Puritan Board Freshman
I actually think we need less verse-by-verse exposition and more theological preaching. I worry sometimes about how much basic theology any given congregation actually knows. There are some pretty ignorant Christians out there - even Reformed Christians - even though many have sat under verse-by-verse preaching for many years.

Spurgeon, of course, comes to mind. Taking a text instead of going through a book. You can get a lot of good theology from his sermons, plus you can find at least one sermon from almost every book of the Bible (and he's usually careful to give you the context of the verse he's taking before he launches out). How many guys who spend three years grinding through Galatians will be able to say that at the end of their ministries?

I once heard John MacArthur preach a theological sermon. Each point he made was bathed in Scripture, but the sermon was about a specific point of theology. I think we need more of that - a lot more of that.
I'd second that. Good points.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Agreed. A great man used mightily by Our Lord. But, frankly, he did not expound the texts precisely in a consistent manner. Perkins is sublime. Dabney is awfully good, as well. But Perkins is the fons et origo of solidly Reformed preaching instruction.
Dabney is not good, he is astounding. His work on Sacred Rhetoric should be read by every preacher. Yet, what makes him good is that 1/3 of his book is Vinet quoted. <wink>
 
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