Major sections of Scripture are biographical. The Holy Spirit's use of biography to communicate the Truth is a high recommendation for this source of sermon illustrations. Of course, the major difference is in who's handling the material.
Biography is defined as the "reconstruction in print or on film, of the lives of real men and women." The genre has a long history, dating from inscriptions on palace walls of Egypt and Assyria. In the second century, Plutarch wrote The Parallel Lives, comparing and evaluating the morals and achievements of four individuals. Every era of history has included some biographies that were more fantasy than fact, usually trying to enhance a life in support of a cause or an institution. In 1791 James Boswell wrote The Life of Samuel Johnson, described as "the first definitive biography." Biographies are now a staple of publishing and also television's History Channel.
The use of biography applies truth to real people and heightens listener response. People are always more interesting than things. Preaching the truth includes working with propositional statements, but these truths live when illustrated in the lives of others. Craig Larson wrote, "The average church attender finds People magazine more engaging than PC User. Listeners identify with people's emotions, thoughts, opinions, and weaknesses. While illustrations drawn from nature, mechanics and mathematics can help clarify, people illustrations are more likely to stir emotions. They are alive." Biography is a rich treasure for... people-centered illustrations. However, every kind of illustrative material has limitations.
(To read the entire article, "Illustrating Sermons with Biography" by Bill D. Whittaker at Preaching.com, click here)
Today’s Pastoral Resource...
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