Today's Word for Pastors...
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. - Luke 6:38
Today's Preaching Insight...
Ordering the Sermon
In an article on "The Theology of Sermon Design" in the Sept-Oct 2007 issue of Preaching, Dennis Cahill writes, "Karl Barth, in his volume ‘Homiletics,' states, ‘There is no need, then, to consider the problem of what should come first, second, and third. The preacher has only to repeat what the text says' Barth rejects introductions, conclusions, and sermon divisions out of his theological conviction that humanity can do nothing to make the Word of God effective and should not try to do so, perhaps because of his dislike for the artiness of the sermons of his day. For Barth, sermon form only served to obscure the Word of God. Preachers, he argued, need not make much of the issue of sermon form.
The problem with this line of reasoning is that the biblical preachers and writers did have a concern for design. Long argues that the New Testament writers were intentional in their rhetorical design and that New Testament preaching was based on the preaching of the synagogue, which was complex in its communication strategy.
Consider the difference between Paul's sermon in Acts 13 to a largely Jewish audience in the synagogue and his sermon in Acts 17 to a Gentile audience in the Greek marketplace. In Acts 13 Paul's sermon is filled with Old Testament references and theology. In Acts 17 Paul takes a very different approach, appealing to an altar to ‘an unknown God' and quoting from Greek poets, while not using a single quotation from the Hebrew Scriptures. These two sermons reflect different audiences and thus different rhetorical designs. They are designed differently, but they are designed.
Form is inescapable. Even if one simply reads the text, issues of design must be considered."
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