Pace, R. Scott. Heath A. Thomas, Editor. Preaching By the Book: Developing and Delivering Text-Driven Sermons (Hobbs College Library). Nashville: B&H Academic/Oklahoma Baptist University, 2018. 123 Pages. Cloth. $19.99. http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/products/preaching-by-the-book
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+/When this Lutheran book review journal editor requested Preaching by the Book, we knew it would have a Baptist flavor. Chapter 7 on Invitations is as expected, though not overt. (What of John 15:16? What of Joshua 24 in context? How is "Decision Theology" consistent with Romans 2 or Psalm 51:5? Our human will is not strong enough to "decide." Does Scripture not say that we are dead in sin and enemies of God?).
What I wanted our readers to know is the state of training in preaching at a place like Oklahoma Baptist University through one volume of the Hobbs College Library (21-volume set, Commendation Page). One volume in a new series, Preaching by the Book focuses on Developing and Delivering Text-Driven Sermons. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis or Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne will be used to more theological rigor, more guidance, and a more solid Christological foundation than this book. For example, I have no doubt that the author of this book and its editor know the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It should be more clear and more central to the book.
All Christian preachers (and their hearers) could benefit from a proper distinction between Law and Gospel. Usually considered a Lutheran distinctive, it shouldn't be. Consider this brief new video summary: [https://youtu.be/GxVi5qKS3pM].
This title is concise, usually to the point, and well-written for its intended audience. Reading as an experienced preacher, I can hear specific advice and counsel in the book as helpful for the students it was written for. Reading as a Lutheran, I see different solutions for common problems. Use of an historic lectionary solves my problem of Selecting a Passage (10). Historic vestments solve my problem with how to dress for worship (15).
The seven-point Process of Sermon Development (18) would greatly benefit from the proper distinction of Law and Gospel. As is, it could lead to a textual and biblical sermon that would leave Jesus out. Such a sermon would not be Christian and would have earned me an F in my homiletics courses.
I appreciated the Investigation chapter's paragraph urging awareness of "historical lapse," both between the events and the record of them as well as that Bible time and today (25). Transitions are important. Don't Grind the Gears (76ff). The advice on visual aids is well taken (87). I would counsel against them as a crutch, would warn about the potential of overuse, and would agree that some could be too distracting, overwhelming, or unhelpful.
The Conclusion was my favorite part because the concluding passage from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 spoke so clearly about Christ, the true subject of our preaching. Yes, we should carefully discern what theological truth is taught in any passage. We should also look for Christ. Preachers, give your hearers Jesus!
+The Rev. Richard A. Bolland brings his decades of pastoral experience to his accessible, deep, and hopeful title, The Church Is One: Recapturing the Lost Unity Christ Intended for His Church on Earth. When we confess one holy Christian/catholic and apostolic Church, we do so as a confession of faith, not a description of what we see in fallen world, a valley of the shadow. Bolland points us to Christ and His Word, exemplified by the Foreword of the Rev. Daniel Preus and his reference to John 17:17, where Jesus says, "Your word is truth" (8).
I agree that our creedal confessions should include the word catholic (not Catholic). To his discussion (22) I would add what I was taught, that the pre-Luther German word "christlich" was an acceptable translation of the Latin "catholica" and that German-origin Lutherans ended up with "Christian" in English for historical reasons and not only anti-Roman reasons.
LBR readers know that we love clarity. Consider page 24: Permit Me To Make My Thesis Clear. Unity in doctrine and practice is divinely intended for the earthly, visible Christian Church. Division and disunity are marks of Satan's activity within the earthly gatherings of God's people. Therefore, any aspect of an institutional church body's activity or behavior that lends itself toward unity in doctrine and practice is Godly, and any aspect of a church body's activity or behavior that lends itself toward division and disunity is of the Devil and results in hindering and obfuscating the Gospel of Christ.
For the author's definitions of Church, Sect, and Cult, see 42ff. For his helpful description of the difference between fides qua creditor and fides quae creditor, zoom in on 51-52. An illustrative list of the errors of the Roman Church by date is found on pages 57-63. The Lord's Supper and its celebration in a local congregation is often a flash point of conflict and misunderstanding. I appreciate the author's bluntness: "Thus, the Lord's Supper is no place for any kind of division. It is no place for variance of views respecting what the Lord's Supper is and what it accomplishes. It is no place for multiple choice doctrine and it is certainly no place for contradictory practices…" (82)
Speaking of which, catechesis can be a medicine to differences in teaching and practice in our LCMS. Neglecting catechesis has disastrous consequences: "If people wish to join a Lutheran congregation, but retain non-Lutheran doctrine, practice, and worship forms; then this will be the end of the Lutheran character of that congregation" (108).
I agree with the author and Dr. Luther that the use of one translation is beneficial for the Church (128). If I were to re-word one sentence in the book it would be the last sentence of the first full paragraph on 128. Instead of "Officially adopted hymnals would be the sole source of liturgies and hymnody among us." I would say, "Doctrinally pure hymnals would be the sole source of liturgies and hymnody among us." The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 does not have the same official "adoption" granted to Lutheran Worship (1982) and Lutheran Service Book (2004/2006).
Focusing on The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod yet of benefit to all Christians, The Church Is One points readers to Christ and His Word, faith in His Word instead of unbelief or human innovation, and unity in the Word of Christ.
Designed with the "youngest kids" in mind, The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible, by Jared Kennedy and Illustrated by Trish Mahoney, will be appreciated by its intended audience and their parents. Art and design on cover and inside pages is inviting, creative, and edifying.
The Old Testament is introduced as "Promises Made" in 27 stories, with "Promises Kept" being the overall theme for the remaining New Testament Stories, 52 in all. The stories included are technically paraphrases, which means interpretation and hermeneutics come into play.
Issac's name is reinterpreted as happiness rather than doubt (compare 24 to Genesis 17:17 and 18:12-15).
Repentance is defined as a "turn away" or "TURN AROUND" (187).
Pages 245-27 introduce "communion" as a memorial meal. Lutheran parents would need to reaffirm Jesus' own words:
I understood the question "Have you ever asked Jesus to forgive you for your sins?" as interpretable in a good way by Lutherans, yet also in a "Decision Theology" way by others (253).
"Trust" can be a helpful age-appropriate synonym for faith, given further instruction as children grow (277, passim).
We've reviewed material from the author's congregation before (http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2012/03/hymnody-resurgent-kentucky.html). This story Bible would not be my first choice to recommend to Lutheran parents, yet they could certainly use it in an edifying way for their children.