Last time we asked something along the lines of "What is effective preaching?" We saw several different approaches, each having significant and biblical strengths. But we never got down to the real question, "What is the effect that preaching is supposed to have?" That's what we're after in our review of chapter 3 of Him We Proclaim.
He starts off by saying,
"We cannot evaluate our strengths and weaknesses in preaching, nor our progress in strengthening strengths and minimizing weaknesses unless we know what preaching is supposed to do, what purpose it is to accomplish." (p. 63)
So the author sets off on the lofty goal of answering what "preaching is supposed to do" by exploring the Apostle Paul's theology of preaching from a paragraph of his letter to the Colossian Christians. (This where the title of the book comes from too!)
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
From this text and its surrounding paragraph, Johnson detects 7 interwoven themes that undergirded the Apostle's preaching and should undergird ours as well.
- The purpose we pursue: "to present everyone mature in Christ."
- The listeners we address: "to make known…among the Gentiles."
- The content we preach: "Him we proclaim."
- The communication tasks we perform: "warning and teaching…with all wisdom."
- The price we pay: "suffering …Christ's afflictions…toil, struggling."
- The power on which we rely: "all his energy…within me."
- The office we fulfill: "minister according to the stewardship from God."
This chapter is worth reading, re-reading, and re-reading again. What I love most about it is that our friend doesn't just pull this stuff out of the air, but right from the man himself, the apostle Paul. And he doesn't even have to pull together a bunch of Paul's random thoughts from all of his letters. He piggybacks off of Paul's reflection on his own task as a preacher.
Next time, well take a look at these 7 themes of "apostolic theology of preaching."
- What other passages would you go to form a 'biblical theology of preaching'?
- What effects should our preaching have: on us, on our listeners? In other words, what should preaching do?
- How would you state (in one sentence) the purpose of preaching?