Preaching and Preachers, Part 2

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching & Preachers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011. 346 pp. $22.99

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This is the second part of a two part review. I split up the reviews because the nature of the new release by Zondervan. It is the 40th Anniversary Edition of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones classic Preaching & Preachers. If you are unfamiliar with the book, it began as a series of lectures that Lloyd-Jones delivered to the students of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. These lectures were held during the spring of 1969, over the course of six weeks. They were published two years later into a single volume which has, since that time, become a classic text on preaching. I will attempt to discover why it became so popular.

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In Part 1 of the review I sought to focus solely on the additions to the 40th Anniversary release. So, part 2 is simply a review of Lloyd-Jones’ book.

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Part 2

If Lloyd-Jones was fearful of the decline in preaching during his day, how much more should we be over 50 years later? Preaching is a calling that is gaining more and more ire from the general public, and is even being pushed to the periphery in our churches–as it was in Lloyd-Jones’ day. So what does this book about preaching have to say to modern preachers and to the act of preaching itself?

Lloyd-Jones begins his series of lectures by stating that preaching is the primary task of the church. And it’s for that reason that he says after many years in the role he is prepared to lecture on this topic because as he says, “to me the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can every be called” (17). He argues for the primacy of preaching because it has fallen out of importance in many of our churches. He spends several pages discussing issues that have contributed to this before defending his view. He executes this defense by walking us through the appropriate Scripture references that testify to the primacy of preaching in the life of Jesus and the early church. Lloyd-Jones then reinforces his argument by calling on Church history.

“Is it not clear… that the decadent periods and eras in the history of the Church have always been those periods when preaching had decline?” So, “what is it that always heralds the dawn of a Reformation or of a Revival?” It is renewed preaching. A revival of true preaching has always heralded these great movements in the history of the Church (31).

Throughout the book, Lloyd-Jones often employs “personal reminiscence” to illustrate examples of the points he is trying to prove. He begins his defense of the sermon this way, by reminiscing, and then sets about to prove wrong “modern” thoughts and assertions that there are better ways of communicating than that of a sermon. Lloyd-Jones felt strongly the preacher was to do something. He wasn’t merely to make a speech. It was more than that, it was interacting with the people. They must go away effected if true preaching had taken place.

As I read through the book it became evident to me why this book has remained a preachers classic. I believe it’s because the book has an element of timelessness to it, as Scriptural arguments should. Though there are topics that Lloyd-Jones addresses that were definitely products of his time, yet he also addresses those topics in a way that seems as though he is speaking directly to us in our day. This is the sense in which this book continues to have a following.

I also became much more aware of why Dever says that he never fails to mention this book “as being the most fun to read” (255). It’s a fun read because the Dr. has many, many stories that he employs to illustrate the points he is making. I have no doubt these stories were much more colorful as the Welshman retold them in his lectures than they are in the book. While entertaining, the frequency of them became somewhat tedious as I worked through the chapters.

Much of what you hear about this book is that it is definitely a book on preaching that should be read. You’re not going to agree with everything, but as previously mentioned this may have a lot to do with when the book was written, Lloyd-Jones, in the informal lecture setting at WTS, was reacting against much that was happening to preaching during his day.

Lloyd-Jones knew what it was to be a preacher. Maybe that’s why this book is important to read. He exemplified the preacher. Staying in one congregation for over 30 years, is a feat very uncommon in our day.

He had much wisdom in those years of experience to glean. Listen and learn.

 

 

Preaching and Preachers, Part 1

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Preaching & Preachers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011. 346 pp. $22.99

9780310331292.jpg

This will be a two part review because the nature of this new release by Zondervan. It is the 40th Anniversary Edition of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones classic Preaching & Preachers. If you are unfamiliar with the book, it began as a series of lectures that Lloyd-Jones delivered to the students of Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. These lectures were held during the spring of 1969, over the course of six weeks. They were published two years later into a single volume which has, since that time, become a classic text on preaching. I will attempt to discover why it became so popular.

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Here’s what I would like to accomplish in Part 1 of this review. I want to focus solely on the additions to this new 40th Anniversary release. Most of the new elements are additions to the physicality of the book itself: the lay-out and reformatting. The other primary additions are textual:a new foreword and essays by modern preachers.

Upon first inspection, the new edition is a nice refresh. Several new elements compliment the original text and I think will be welcomed by the modern reader. Of first significance are essays by what we may characterize as modern-day Lloyd-Jones’. Pastors that have become known for their preaching. They don’t take up the subject of preaching in order to add to the conversation begun by Lloyd-Jones, rather their focus is to relate how Lloyd-Jones (and thus this book) shaped their understanding of preaching. While I wish each of the men contributing essays to this volume would write their own book on preaching, their essays are a nice addition and will have to suffice, for now. I appreciate the insight these men do provide.

Another new feature that general editor Kevin DeYoung points out in the foreword is that subheadings have been added to further aid the reader through the chapters. The next addition is a formatting change that I do not care for. The addition of “quote emphasis” boxes on the pages of text makes no sense to me. I really do not understand the purpose of these in a full-length book. It seems that all they do is distract from the flow of reading and take up space. It’s repetitive text, and is essentially a huge highlight that someone else chose for you. These may make sense in magazines or short publications, but I don’t understand the function of them in a book such as this. Finally, there is the addition of discussion questions at the end of the original chapters. This should help guide aspiring pastors or small groups through the book. Though, once again, I still question these types of additions.

So, that’s a little of what to expect when you pick up this new edition. Nothing too surprising if you’ve read a book in the past few years. It’s probably best summed up by simply saying, industry standards. As for the new edition, I would probably stick to the old copy if you’ve already got one. Definitely try to read the new essays at some point, but I’m not sure it’s worth buying a brand new copy.

 

*This book was provided by Zondervan as a free review copy. I am under no obligation to write a favorable review.*

Real Preaching

This series of articles by Tim Keller commenting on Lloyd-Jones book Preachers and Preaching has been very good.

I wanted to quote some out of his recent post. First,

In other words, though Lloyd-Jones often warns against being too adapted to the culture, in the end the Doctor argues strongly that preaching must not be dry and intellectual but profoundly life-related, that the preacher’s tone must not be affected and “parsonic” but genuine, passionate, and transparent. If you listen to the Doctor’s evening sermons in particular, you learn that he was always referring to current events and intellectual trends, often expounding Scripture in order to answer the questions posed by the culture. So the preaching must not be just a “running commentary” or an overly cognitive explanation of the text, but must have shape and passion and connect forcefully with the heart and life of the congregant.

This is definitely an important and true concept. In fact, I have often noticed that I enjoy preachers who do this in their message. Specifically I think Keller and Dever to this well. However, this concept needs to stay away from the humorous, anecdotal type of preaching. “Addressing the whole man” as he says does not call for a reduction in quality or intelligence of your message. It simply needs to ring true to the hearers, which for pastors this means you have to understand the culture you are in.

Secondly, the primacy of preaching:

In conclusion, I believe that Lloyd-Jones has made his case. I too am willing to affirm the “primacy of preaching” though I think there are many conservative evangelicals who take that to mean that preaching is essentially the only thing a minister has to do and everything else takes care of itself. That is a disastrous mistake. A man who is not deeply involved in personal shepherding, evangelism, and pastoral care will be a bad preacher. A man who can’t lead his church well, forming it into a cohesive community, will find (as we noted above) that his church can’t really benefit from his preaching. To say that preaching is primary in the church is correct. To make it virtually solitary in practice is not.

The preacher has to be the shepherd, evangelist, preacher and so on. It’s a complete calling. Often in today’s churches niches have been carved. Especially in very large churches where the pastor can no longer practically shepherd all of his congregants. This would be an argument against “mega churches”, but I don’t think it resolves it. There are exceptions and models where it does work.

Grateful to Keller for his thoughts.

Advent Preaching

Here is a helpful set of posts to pastors about the question of preaching through the holidays if you’re currently working through a particular book of the Bible, or taking time to break from your series to preach dedicated Christmas sermons. Here is the original question:

Do those of you who carry the main preaching load at your church depart from your regularly scheduled programming to preach advent texts at Christmas? Or do you just keep right on going through whatever book you’re in at the time?

And the responses:

Hallmark Calendar by Jim Hamilton

An Ambivalent Hallmark Calendar Guy by Michael Lawrence

Preaching Christmas Sermons? by Michael McKinley

One Year Is As Seven Months to the Preacher Using a Hallmark Calendar by Thabiti Anyabwile

Calendars and the Rape of Dinah by Greg Gilbert

and the wrap-up

How the Calendar Questions Resolve for Me (this year . . .) by Jim Hamilton

I think this is a great example of instructional and healthy dialogue between pastors. I hope more pastors are networked with a close group of men around them that they can have a healthy dialogue with regarding the ministry of the Word.

Let that be our prayer for our pastors.

Interview with Phillip Jenson

I stumbled across this interview while looking up the newest release from Matthias Media The Archer and the Arrow. It’s an hour long video of Mark Dever interviewing Phillip Jenson, one of the authors.

Mark Dever interviews Phillip Jensen – full version from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

I haven’t read the book yet, but if broadens my thoughts on preaching, as much as The Trellis and the Vine did on discipleship, then I’m sure it is another great contribution.