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Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: Ignoring the Old Testament by Dr. Walt Kaiser Jr.
  1. Six Principles for Preaching Christ from the Old Testament
  2. Possibly Related Articles
  3. NEW! Eerdmans' Preaching Christ from the Old Testament Series
  4. Do we see examples of expositional preaching in the Bible?

On the other hand, it is significant that both McCurley and Achtemeier, who underscore the saving history Heilsgeschichte , fail to give examples in their books of preaching from the wisdom literature. Moreover, how to move from the fact of Heilsgeschichte to demand for ethical living is not at once apparent, though Achtemeier incorporates duties as a response to salvation.

Gowan fares better with regard to both wisdom and ethics. He easily incorporates preaching from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as well as from the legal material of Leviticus. For evangelicals, however, I suspect his method is unsettling. While laws are admittedly given in specific cultural situations, is there not something more absolute to law than a directional movement?

Lack of a theological framework gives to his whole book an existential open-endedness. These four books make it clear that a direction for preaching is set by the way the theological structure of the Old Testament is understood. A second question is how to proceed exegetically in order to discern the message of a given text. Achtemeier merely alludes to the steps. McCurley is the most explicit. In the second half of his book he describes and then illustrates his seven-step method in nine historical and prophetic texts.

This is the most helpful part of the book. However, on another level, in its present setting Sitz-im-Buch , the story shows how God changes people. The preacher decides which of the message levels he wishes to preach. Gowan, like Achtemeier, does not set out a step-by-step procedure.

He relies most on form criticism and tradition history. A distinct contribution of his book is that he takes seriously the Old Testament forms—songs, stories, laws—and instead of asking the general question how to preach from the Old Testament, he asks rather how we are to preach from history, law, short story, saga, prophetic speech, and wisdom.

On a given text the key elements are reviewed and a summary message statement for the text is formulated which is often developed into a full-blown sermon, of which there are ten examples. Because he gives attention to the form of a text, Gowan is able to delimit a passage properly and to be sensitive to the distinctive features of a type. He also tends to focus on personal and social issues. More attention to word studies and to the relationship of the parts of a text to each other would yield abundant homiletical treasures. His sermons, introduced by retelling the text, illustrate his method.

But they do not anchor sufficiently tightly in the biblical text; they do not examine the textual details. One feels that the sermon is a close relative of the text; the preaching is not the text itself but is from the text. Thompson, a professor at Eastern Baptist Seminary, includes in his book a carefully thought-out chapter stressing triad exegesis literary, historical, theological.

Reginald Fuller, an Episcopalian scholar, likewise devotes a chapter to the exegetical method in his sprightly book, The Use of the Bible in Preaching To preach from the Old Testament it is necessary to discern and cross the theological and exegetic bridges that lead from the text to its meaning. A third bridge leads from that meaning to the man and woman in the pew. Implied in this question is another: how does the preacher move from the meaning discerned in the text to the formulation of the sermon? The answers given in recent books are similar but not identical. Kaiser, Gowan, Achtemeier and McCurley use the principle of analogy.


Six Principles for Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

Achtemeier elaborates this best. For her, story is primary; she disdains the notion that a sermon can be summarized in a sentence because the Bible is not to be understood as a book of concepts but as a narrative. To emphasize the story and the analogy, she urges the pairing of an Old Testament text with a corresponding New Testament text. A sermon on the sign to Ahaz Isa. If the text passage in her sermons does not become memorable and vivid, the God behind the text does.

But one also has uneasiness. In the hands of the learned theologian the method is credible and effective. For others, the danger of reducing the story to platitudes or of exaggerating or misrepresenting story parts is real because the method offers insufficient controls.

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While it is good to pair an Old Testament text with one from the New Testament, this writer agrees with C. The flood story helps me to understand myself by bringing to light my fears about a catastrophe. The stories of Daniel and Esther underline the precarious nature of existence mine in an alien culture.

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Interestingly, he holds that those Psalms which are addressed to God are not fit subjects for sermons, since these are already the human existential response. Similarly, Haddon Robinson notes that Christians cannot be directly identified with Israel. We are the same type of people. He is the same God! Certain texts, such as wisdom texts, do make their link with us on the basis of a common humanity.

For other texts, the parallel between an ancient and contemporary people of God is the bridge that will serve. More help still, though not adequate, comes from Gowan, who singles out motifs in the text and converses with the reader about the thinking that goes into shaping the sermon. For a quite different schema Ernest Best is interesting. Preachers, even those who are good exegetes, often flounder at this stage.

NEW! Eerdmans' Preaching Christ from the Old Testament Series

Now to summarize the four main books on preaching from the Old Testament. His book is recommended for its evangelical content and overall framework. The book has no sample sermons and is only indirectly about preaching. The key of tradition history sets a direction for the sermon idea, treats the Bible holistically, and arches quite naturally toward the current situation.

Do we see examples of expositional preaching in the Bible?

Of the three, Achtemeier will give the current preacher the greatest stimulus for sermon ideas; McCurley could be of help to those at sea on technique, though Robinson and Stuart will serve much better; and Gowan would be of help to those already preaching from the Old Testament but desiring refinement of a method and approach. Comment should be made, even if brief, on what it means to be biblical in preaching. The question about biblical preaching is not anymore concerned with differentiating between various textual or expository methods of reading the Bible. James A. But we can see that these definitions are understood in radically different ways when we compare Robinson and Achtemeier.

Robinson defines preaching as the communication of biblical concepts p. In the first, attention is given to detail, to word studies, to correct formulations. In the second, while some exegetical details are included, the emphasis is on the overall story and particularly on God who is the chief actor. How is one to understand the Bible?

Is it a book of concepts? Is it story? Does the truth lie somewhere in between? The sermon form and perhaps even the sermon message are largely determined by the answer we give. In comparing recent books on preaching from the Old Testament with books from former decades, one notes some interesting developments. Contemporary writers are biblical scholars; earlier writers were often homiletics professors e.

Law and Gospel. Leaders and Elders. Lordship of Christ. Love and Charity. Luther, Martin. Means of Grace. New Perspective. Ordo Salutis. Pastoral Ministry. Pauline Studies.

Perseverance of Saints. Philosophy of Religion. Redemptive History. Reformed Theology. Roman Catholicism.

How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth - Christopher J. H. Wright

Seeker Sensitive. Sermon on the Mount. Sermons By Author. Social Justice. Sola Scriptura. Sovereignty of God.