Guest Editorial Reflections on Preaching Sin as an Act of Love

I still recall the first time I sang the hymn, God, Be Merciful to Me.
The opening words of the third verse declare, “I am evil, born in
sin.” As soon as the words left my mouth, my soul balked,
accusing the hymnist of hyperbole, even harshness. Sinful? Yes.
Evil? Hardly. But the word lingered, knocking about the back of
my mind, humbling me, as my conscience questioned my
reaction. “Why not call you evil? What part of you shines as holy
as God? Does your heart not also display the corruption of
Adam, your father?” Soon, self-defense turned to self examination,
accusation to prayer, and defiance to repentance. I
too think evil, speak evil, do evil. If “out of the heart come evil
thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false
witness, [and] slander” (Matthew 15:19), then my heart—the core
of my being—is, in fact, evil. The stark, ugly truth, though hard
to hear, forged in me deeper awareness of my own sin, and thus
deeper appreciation for the Christ who overcomes it.
Would you ever stand in the pulpit and say to your sheep,
“You are evil, born in sin?” My experience with God, Be Merciful
to Me has, over time, affected not only my awareness of the
depths of my own sin, but also the manner in which I preach
about sin. I have grown more direct, more probing, more willing
to say hard things. The world, and some Christians with it, label
preaching about sin “unloving.” But I have come to see that
preaching the stark reality of sin, so far from comprising a
loveless act, represents instead a profound act of love.

How Did Lloyd-Jones and Sangster Use Scripture in Their Preaching Responses to the Outbreak of World War II? Trialling Analytical Approaches to the Homiletical Use of Scripture

Both D. M. Lloyd-Jones and W. E. Sangster are distinguished
figures in evangelical history, looked to as examples of men who
used their preaching to respond to the issues of their day, in
particular the outbreak of World War Two. Their sermons in
response to this traumatic event were published towards the end
of 1939, but the preachers’ collections show an immediate
disparity in the amount of Scripture being used. Analysing the
use of Scripture is key when looking at homiletical exemplars in
terms of learning from them. By the nature of any choices being
both linguistic and theological, any approach must be
interdisciplinary. So, in order to move towards establishing a
methodology for analyzing how Scripture is used within the
sermon, this article trials different methods to assess which may
or may not be useful in constructing a way of systematically
learning from successful preachers of the past.
Using the example of Grounded Theory, which advocates
the creation of inductive categories, a new framework enabling
analysis of the use of Scripture within a sermon has been created,
Scriptural Categorization Analytics, and is applied to the sermon
collections of Sangster and Lloyd-Jones in order to investigate the
effectiveness of this technique as a tool for studying the use of the
Bible within sermons.

Why We Should Not Start at the Beginning But Instead Start at the Ending – In Preaching and Teaching the Biblical Doctrine of Man

This paper argues that preaching and teaching on human nature
should not begin at the beginning, with Gen 1:26–28 and the
Image of God––but with the ending––with Christ, the Second
Adam, the true image of God, in whom the redeemed are being
renewed, and in whom the redeemed will finally be glorified. A
method of whole-brain sermon preparation is presented, in
which narrative, conceptual, and visual tools are employed, with
a view to engaging the listener’s mind, emotions, and will.

Theocentric Therapeutic Preaching: Good News During the Covid-19 Pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic disrupted all areas of life
including the worship practices of local churches. It caused
trauma, breaking connections, and shattering assumptions about
the safety of the world and (for Christians) assumptions about
God. Forced to take their worship and ministry online, church
leaders continued to support the wellbeing and spiritual
development of their congregants, including through their
preaching. This research analysed the online worship services of
three churches during the first weekend of Aotearoa New
Zealand’s March – May 2020 Lockdown. It drew on Neil
Pembroke’s work on divine therapeia, exploring the theocentric
and therapeutic messages that preachers communicated to their
attenders. Each church demonstrated an integration between the
theocentric and the therapeutic. The theocentric related to God’s
character and attributes (particularly God’s love, attentive
presence and faithfulness), and activity and power. The
therapeutic was expressed by lamenting and acknowledging
pain, offering words of comfort, and inviting response, including
in care for others. For each church, the goal was towards human
flourishing: shalom, or well-being even amid difficult
circumstances. Three implications for the Church are evident.
First, churches can be encouraged to include space for pain and
lament alongside their talk about God. Secondly, the human
need for personal agency might healthily be expressed in service
towards others. Thirdly, the hopeful sense, experienced by many,
that perhaps our church, community or world could be better
post-COVID ought to be encouraged and explored. Suggestions
for further research are also made.

In View of God’s Mercy: Evoking and Invoking Gratitude in Preaching

Although gratitude is sometimes mentioned by homileticians as
a motivator for discipleship, its place in sermons remains
relatively unexplored. This article considers how preachers can
intentionally evoke (draw forth) feelings of thankfulness and
invoke (appeal to) these as the impetus for obedience. This gracegratitude-
obedience pattern may be seen throughout the Bible;
however, recent New Testament scholarship has underscored
the extent to which, in the first century, grace demanded an
active response on the part of recipients. This is evident in Paul’s
letter to the Romans, particularly as he appeals to readers to offer
their bodies to God in view of his mercy—i.e., in gratitude for the
grace described in the preceding chapters. Preachers can follow
his example in their own sermons. However, to avoid moralism,
it is important that listeners are genuinely thankful to God. An
interdisciplinary exploration of gratitude offers a framework for
helping people feel thankfulness that can be used in sermoncrafting.
The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola are
examined as a model for evoking and invoking Christian gratitude
by personalizing God’s love in Christ and calling for an active
response. Finally, practical recommendations are offered,
applicable to a wide variety of models and methods.

The Role of Imagination in Expository Sermon Construction

While expository preaching is a biblically faithful model, this
method of preaching can result in boring recitations of research.
In order to bring life to expository sermons, this article argues
that imagination serves an important and necessary role in
expository sermon construction. First, this article presents an
original definition of imagination as it relates to expository
sermons. Second, a biblical survey of terms relating to
imagination reveals that Scripture advocates for its use, as well
as how to use the imagination. Third, this article addresses
potential pitfalls when engaging the imagination and offers
boundaries to ensure appropriate use. Fourth, this article
addresses the level of importance of imagination to the sermon
construction process. Fifth, every aspect of sermon construction
benefits from imagination, as this section demonstrates. Finally,
the reader will receive practical tips for improving imaginative

Guest Editorial The Comedy, Tragedy, and Ambiguity of Preaching

Included in the purpose statement of our Evangelical Homiletics Society is a line saying we intend “to provide a forum for the identification, study, research, and modeling of biblical preaching.” It is that word “research” that opens up the possibility for all sorts of discussions pertaining to our craft. There is no field of study from which the observant preacher cannot draw some insight that will inform how he or she understands the Bible and the homiletical task. The reason for this has to do with the very nature of God’s revelation. Our God reveals Himself and the truth He embodies in ways both general and special. To find truth anywhere is to discover some aspect of Him. He is the author and sustainer of all life. Life testifies to Him. As biblical preachers, we are called to expound that testimony. Eighteenth-century English writer, art historian, and politician Horace Walpole famously observed, “Life is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy for those who feel.” The Bible looks squarely at life and gives us elements of both and more. The Book itself is a grand comedy. Everything works out right in the end. But it is a comedy interlaced with tragedy. So much goes so desperately wrong before the end comes. It also includes degrees of ambiguity, leaving us to wonder. Preachers who see only comedy in Scripture are apt to deliver sermons that never seem to get at the real pain their hearers experience. They generalize it, though all pain is particular to its sufferer. They gloss it over, dismissing their hearers’ existential distress with talk of their “real” problem that only Jesus can solve. Their thinking is sound enough, but it lacks feeling. Preachers with a keen eye for biblical tragedy are more likely to deliver sermons that are therapeutic or prophetic by nature, depending on their particular personalities and spiritual gifting. They either probe hearers’ pain with great empathy and dispense practical counsel for dealing with it or expose the sin they perceive to lie behind that pain and denounce it with holy zeal. Their feelings are acute, but they can muddle their thinking. Preachers especially attuned to the Bible’s ambiguities deliver more than their fair share of sermons that leave hearers to wonder, looking for meaning and purpose. They walk away pondering, “What did the preacher mean by that? Why do I feel so confused? What am I supposed to do next?” Just as the Bible is a comedy, wrapping a tragedy, and haunted by ambiguity, preaching that is true to Scripture and to life as we know it should be comedic, tragic, or ambiguous depending on a sermon’s text. But how?

Engaging a World Homiletic

The theme of this conference to which I will address is,
“Engaging a World Homiletic.” The world is a big place. With a
population of 7.9 billion in seven continents and consisting of
nothing less than 3800 cultures, the world is enigmatic and a big
assignment to comprehend.1
Yet, God loves this world and the
people in it. We are commissioned to go into the world, preach
the gospel and make disciples of its component nations. Paul’s
words in Acts 17:24-28 is very profound: “The God who made
the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth
and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not
served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he
himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From
one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the
whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history
and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they
would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him,
though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and
move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said,
‘We are his offspring.’”2
From the passage above, there is an indication that God
was deliberate in situating every human being where they are
and for a purpose: seek, reach him, and find him. The task of
preaching and of a preacher stand between these divine designs.
Paul later asks in Romans 10:14-15: “How, then, can they call on
the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in
the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear
without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone
preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are
the feet of those who bring good news!” The preacher, therefore,
becomes the connector between men and women in their divine
location and the vision of God to see them seek him, reach out for
him and find him.
A “world homiletic” presupposes that God has placed
humans in their different locations in the world and within their
cultural and other contexts. He has also raised preachers (and
continues to call in places where they do not have one) who
would preach to them and ultimately lead them to salvation in
the holistic sense.
To prosecute this task, I will discuss the basic assumptions
in homiletics and Christian preaching. I will examine preaching
from an African context and perspective since that is my root. I
will situate African preaching in a global context and offer a few
considerations to put in place if one is to engage a world
homiletic. The idea of “engaging” as we are attempting to do is
“to give attention to something” and possibly “participate” in it.3
It is to seek to understand it, to know how to handle and probably
involve in it.

How to Split a Bill: Is there a Transcultural Homiletic for all Peoples, all Places, all Times?

In the Asian culture, when you eat out with your friends, you
never split the bill. One person offers to pay for everyone else.
This sounds great. But you’re also supposed to fight that person
for the bill. In the Anglo culture, in contrast, you always split the
bill. But if one person offers to pay for everyone, you happily let
that person pay. You’re not going to fight them.
I am Asian-Australian. I can choose when to be Asian. I
can also choose when to be Anglo. So, when an Asian friend
offers to pay for the whole bill, that’s when I choose to be Anglo.
I gladly let them pay.
Culture is everywhere. It affects how we split a bill. It also
affects how we preach—for both the preacher and the audience.
The aim of my article is to explore how culture affects our
homiletics. Is there a transcultural homiletic—one that
transcends all cultures. Or will it be necessarily enculturated—
with cultural distinctives?

Homiletic of Belonging

Transformation is a major goal of evangelical preaching, but how
might people with intellectual disabilities be spiritually
transformed through evangelical preaching? One might look to
models of disability for answers, but medical models and social
models of disability can be problematic for people with ID. Gaps
in disability models bring into focus a need that homiletics might
address: Belonging. The concept of belonging figures prominently
among disability and practical theologians like John Swinton,
Brian Brock, and Hans Reinders and in the empirical research of
Erik Carter. Interacting with their work, the concept of belonging
will be explored as a homiletical model that may contribute to
the transformation of listeners with intellectual disabilities. The
homiletical goal of transformation among people with
intellectual disabilities might be served by a homiletical model of
belonging in which 1.) through the preaching of
counternarratives, preachers contribute to the transformation of
non-disabled parishioners by pointing them to the value of
friendship with the intellectually disabled and to the inherent
worth of people with ID from creation and in the body of Christ.
2.) by preachers knowing these listeners as friends.