The Preacher and Preaching

By Samuel T. Logan, Jr.
Phillipsburg, NJ : Presbyterian and Reformed (1986). 463 Pages.

Reviewed by
2.2 (Fall 1991) : 212-213

Thirty leading Reformed pastors and homiletics professors were consulted regarding their opinion about the primary deficiencies in Reformed preaching. Each chapter was written by an author regarded as the most competent to write on each of the topics emerging from the poll.

The introduction, fittingly written by J. I. Packer, responds to the question "Why Preach?" Surprisingly, Dr. Packer first speculates 214 The Master's Seminary Journal about why so few seem to believe in preaching. This leads him to define what preaching–in contrast to other modes of Christian instruction–is and should accomplish: "Preaching is God's revealed way of making Himself and His saving covenant known to us" (p. 15); "preaching communicates the force of the Bible as no other way of handling it does" (p. 17); "preaching focuses the identity and clarifies the calling of the church as no other activity does" (p. 19); and "preaching has some unique advantages as a mode of Christian instruction" (p. 21).

The book's organization follows the cherished and conspicuous three-point alliterated outline: I. The Man, II. The Message (subdivided into discussions of message content and message form), and III. The Manner.

Lack of extensive footnoting and in some cases little or no footnoting marks the volume as fresh and creative. Each of the contributors draws upon his breadth of experience and years of research. The more technical entries, such as Samuel Logan's "The Phenomenology of Preaching" and Hendrik Krabbendam's "Hermeneutics and Preaching," are exceptions to the sparse-documentation characteristic. Both of these are stimulating and clearly written, and organize discussions that focus on current issues related to their respective topics. Samuel Logan challenges readers to reconsider the issues distinguishing existentialist and more traditional preaching epistemologies; Hendrik Krabbendam discusses the question of intentionality and its implications:

The meaning of the text is to be discovered, recognized and validated by means of the grammatical, syntactical and semantic study of the text, which ought to account for the total linguistic structure in general and for every linguistic component in particular (p. 217).

Careful readers may discover discrepancies between these two furtive entries, but such merely underscores the freedom of conviction permitted by the editor, Samuel Logan himself. Krabbendam pursues the current and not happily-resolved issue of the "exemplary" versus "redemptive" historical methods. Readers may not agree with the either of the authors, but the discussion is stimulating.

To those not familiar with Jay Adams work on sense appeal in preaching, his essay on "Sense Appeal and Story Telling" will be interesting. His suggestions are aimed at correcting the tired, banal lectures too often heard from the pulpit.

David A. Dombek's "Reading the Word of God Aloud" addresses the sadly neglected need for appropriate public reading of Scripture. The embarrassing way in which the Word of God is often read, merely as a warm up for the sermon, is disheartening. Dombek's practical suggestions, particularly the admonition to read interpretively, provides instruction that will inspire public reading of a quality befitting the Word of God.

This volume is enthusiastically recommended to all who proclaim God's Word. Some may not agree with its every detail, but breadth and freshness make this a significant contribution to the field of preaching.