Introduction to Homiletics

By Donald E. Demaray
Grand Rapids : Baker (1990). 215 Pages.

Reviewed by
2.2 (Fall 1991) : 204-204

The author is currently Professor of Preaching at Asbury Theological Seminary with over twenty years experience in teaching homiletics. The present volume is a thoroughly revised version of his previous work with an updated bibliography and supplementary readings for each chapter. The author draws heavily from history's gallery of preachers and their experiences. A plethora of brief discussions is arranged sequentially under the headings "the preacher," "the sermon," and "the delivery."

An example of the book's numerous helpful correctives occurs in its discussion of illustrations. In asking the question "Do my illustrations persuade?" the author warns against the potential for abuse with illustrations: "Stories can prove, refute, dissuade or persuade. Make certain your depictions do march toward real persuasion of authentic truth" (p. 147). The tendency to use an illustration as evidence in support of an apologetical or polemical point is an all-to-common preaching abuse that should be avoided.

A helpful but controversial contribution is the book's view of pictorial description. The author argues, "Preaching communicates best by pictures" (p. 14). The example of Jesus's teaching as related to left-brain/right-brain research, supports the notion that people think in pictures. "Abstractions deaden; cinema enlivens" (p. 14).

"Growth Sheets" provide the reader with a self-help opportunity to develop more skill in homiletics. Convinced that beginnings and endings are of utmost importance, the author gives substantial practical advice on how to write them. The book concludes with a generous and fairly current bibliography and a topical index.