“A Solemn Thing” John A. Broadus’s Homiletical Theory, Pedagogical Method, and Contemporary Impact

John Albert Broadus writes, “It is a solemn thing to preach the
gospel, and therefore a solemn thing to attempt instruction or
even suggestion as to the means of preaching well.”1 While many
contemporary preachers may not be familiar with Broadus,
modern evangelical preaching is largely shaped by his
homiletical influence. For example, Fasol in his work, With a Bible
in Their Hands comments, “Generations of preachers—Southern
Baptist and many others as well—have stood and now stand on
the shoulders of John A. Broadus.”2 Broadus’s broad shoulders
have held up preachers through his influential homiletical work,
A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons (1870). As
Thomas R. McKibbens argues, “He was a Baptist of international
stature, to be held above all others in his influence on preaching
from his day and well into the twentieth century.”3
This article will argue that the solemn thing of Broadus’s
preaching theory is an intersection of ancient rhetorical elements,
Reformational/Post-Reformational homiletical methodology,
and the expository preaching tradition that is sensitive to the
history of preaching. Thus, Broadus serves as a bridge between
an older preaching methodology and the modern expository sermon model.