Monthly Archives: February 2015

A Word to Those Who Preach or Teach…

I was reading R. Kent Hughes’ commentary Romans: Righteousness from Heaven and came across a list of questions by Donald Grey Barnhouse. The questions were intended to challenge those who preach and teach the Word to examine themselves. Listen to these searching questions:

Have I listened to His voice? Have I laid my own reason in the dust before Him in order to take it again, enlightened by Him, for use in my work? Have I been spiritually alert and dependent upon the Holy Spirit? Have I gone again and again to the Word of God to refresh my own soul before speaking to others? Have I tried to live what I preach? Have I acknowledged my sins when the Lord showed them to me, and repented of them? Have I recognized moment by moment my utter dependence upon the Lord? Have I been lazy? Have I been diligent? Have I insulted the Lord by feeding His sheep with ill-prepared food?

These are challenging questions, and preachers and teachers would do well to ask themselves these questions regularly. God will hold us to a higher standard in regards to the proclamation of His Word (James 3:1), so let us do all we can to faithfully proclaim and live out His Word!

A Reasonable Response by William Lane Craig

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A Reasonable Response is an apologetic book written by William Lane Craig. Craig is a professor at Talbot School of Theology in La Miranda, California. He is also a prolific author and a well-known apologist who has participated in numerous live debates (see his website for a sample of these debates: http://www.reasonablefaith.org). The book attempts to answer some of the questions and challenges pointed towards Christianity.

The book is broken down into six sections. Each section contains multiple topics related to the main theme. The major sections are as follows:

Part 1: Questions on Knowing and Believing What is Real

Part 2: Questions about God

Part 3: Questions about Origins and the Meaning of Life

Part 4: Questions about the Afterlife and Evil

Part 5: Questions about Jesus Christ and Being His Disciple

Part 6: Questions about Issues of Christian Practice

Each chapter contained a question written to Dr. Craig and his response to the question, which kept the book interesting. It almost read like a dialogue. The answers were generally solid without being tedious, and the book will certainly benefit Christians who are interested in engaging unbelievers with spiritual conversations.

I don’t really have anything negative to say about the book. The format of the book (letter and response) is interesting and keeps the it from seeming overly technical. The content of the book is generally solid. Lane set out to address common questions and objections concerning Christianity, and he did this. While not every will agree with his views or accept his answers, he provided what most Christians would consider “a reasonable response” to many objections to Christianity. I would certainly recommend this book to those interested in apologetics and those wrestling with certain aspects of Christianity.

Delivery and Preaching.

Many preaching books focus on the importance of preaching and provide steps to help preachers develop relevant sermons that reflect the meaning of the text and connect with contemporary listeners. It is interesting to note, however, that few books on preaching focus on the importance of delivery in regards to preaching. I recently finished Preaching with Bold Assurance by Hershael York and Bert Decker, which contained a section on sermon delivery. The book reminded me of the importance of sermon delivery. While some might argue that content trumps delivery, ineffective delivery will keep listeners from receiving the message (no matter how great the content is!). In short, sermon delivery matters.

Aristotle has long been recognized as an influential thinker, and his Rhetoric has had a profound impact on communication theory. According to Aristotelian rhetoric, much of the speaker’s success depends on his ethos, pathos, and logos. While logos is related to the content of the message, ethos and pathos are both related to the delivery of the message. The speaker’s character (ethos) and emotions (pathos) come through in his delivery of the message. Therefore, to minimize delivery is to downplay the role of ethos and pathos in communication! For specific suggestions for effective sermon delivery, I would recommend the following preaching books:

Preaching with Bold Assurance by Hershael York and Bert Decker

Power in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix

Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell (I mainly included this book because it is my favorite book on preaching; it does contain an appendix on sermon delivery, though)

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