Preaching with balance
Walking a pulpit tightrope
PREACHING WITH BALANCE
By Donald L. Hamilton
Mentor. 416 pages
This book is intended for those who preach regularly to the same congregation. The author holds the Stephen Olford Chair of Biblical Preaching at Columbia Biblical Seminary. His thesis is that, ‘while perfection in preaching is an illusive dream, improvement is within the grasp of virtually everyone’.
This lengthy book has seven chapters dealing with maintaining balance in theological and personal perspectives, biblical foundations and preaching purpose, sermon variety, content and delivery. It also has four appendices, two covering planning an annual preaching programme and a sermon series and two on sermon evaluation from tape and video.
Helpful questions at the end of each chapter are thought provoking. The book is written from a clearly evangelical standpoint and contains much of help to all who preach. It also presents many challenges with respect to our heart attitudes and motives.
This reader was struck by the author’s highly analytical approach to his subject. So much so, that preaching is treated almost as if it were a science. As more and more material is brought to the preacher’s attention, the ‘preaching’ of which he writes,seems to become less a matter of balance and more a matter of plate-spinning.
As the whole book is about balance in preaching, I was disappointed by the unbalanced attitude towards expository preaching. Only at p.225 do we find expository preaching dealt with. When it is mentioned, it is given less than six sides of 325 pages of text excluding the appendices.
A quote from John Stott included by the author in this section is worth noting. ‘I cannot myself acquiesce in this relegation…of expository preaching to one alternative among many. It is my contention that all true Christian preaching is expository preaching… The expositor prises open what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted and unfolds what is tightly packed.’
The author seems to agree, yet inconsistently continues to treat expository preaching as one of many options. As the Scriptures contain all that we need to be thoroughly equipped for every good work, surely faithful exposition will enable us to have the balance that God intended when he ‘breathed out’ his word.
Notwithstanding the seriously inadequate treatment of expository preaching, there is much helpful material here and several insightful caveats to be found in this book.
senior pastor, Woodstock Road Baptist Church, Oxford