Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Preaching with Profound Simplicity

Great counsel from Prof. David Murray in "A Plea for Profound Simplicity", wherein he criticizes those of us who preach with a little "too much"...
  1. Too much material
  2. Too many words
  3. Too many long words
  4. Too many long sentences
  5. Too long arguments
  6. Simply too long
  7. Too many headings
  8. Too much logic, not enough like Jesus
  9. Too many quotations
  10. Too much clutter
  11. Too much reading
  12. Too much doctrine
Ouch! I recognize myself in several of Murray's criticism, so I am grateful for his Gospel-centered remedy:
The spiritual solution is a love for souls. That old-fashioned phrase must become a modern day reality in our pulpits. If we love our hearers and want to see them live better here, and also prepare for life hereafter, we will do everything to simplify our sermons for their benefit. If we keep the spiritual welfare and eternal destiny of our hearers in front of us at all times, making ourselves understood will become a life-or-death matter.

It’s wonderful that God is calling preachers with huge brains into the ministry of the Word. But huge brains need huge hearts if they are to lovingly and sympathetically serve God’s less gifted (but maybe more-graced?) children.

Now, back to seeking the love of souls through Micah 5.


  1. eh, can we ever really have too much of #12?

  2. Yeah, good observation, Sharon; I tend to agree. Though Murray explains it as, "they [systematic theology]should not be imposed on a text."

    I believe his point to be refraining from using every passage to expand upon the entire theology in the background. What can happen if this is done with too much frequency is that each individual text loses its real and original meaning. If every part of the Bible simply means the whole Bible then no part of the Bible actually means anything!

    In short, we must allow each individual passage to contribute to our systematic theology - let it speak with what it says, rather than having the passage die in the mouth of the preacher with a thousand qualifications. As an example, we would not want to qualify every exhortation to believe with an excursus on God's sovereignty in election, neither Jesus nor the Apostles did that (e.g., Acts 16:31)!

    Admittedly, it is a matter of degree, rather than "either / or," as every passage must be exposited in its biblical and theological context! It is an issue of prayerful wisdom and discernment on the part of the preacher.