Angles of Preaching

This edition of the Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society is a
demonstration of the various angles by which to understand and
appreciate the breadth of approaches to the field of homiletics.
The articles are from around the globe, including authors
from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the
United States. The diverse contributions cover the use of
scripture in the sermons of Martin Lloyd-Jones and W.E.
Sangster at the outbreak of World War II, an analysis of
theocentric preaching during the COVID-19 pandemic,
imagination in expository sermon construction, preaching and
teaching and the doctrine of humanity, and evoking and
invoking gratitude in preaching. In addition, a guest editorial,
and the appreciable gallery of book reviews, which includes a
new feature—voices from the past.

A World Homiletic

The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Evangelical Homiletics
Society was held at Moody Bible Institute 13-15 October 2023.
The annual scholars gathering featured the theme, “A World
Homiletic.” In planning for the event, the Evangelical Homiletics
Society governing board wanted to reflect the worldwide
influences of the field of homiletics as the society embarks on the
next phase of growth. The intention was to look beyond North
America to a global perspective on homiletics. Hence, invitations
were issued to two homiletics scholars from two different parts
of the world, Ezekiel A. Ajibade from Nigeria, Africa, and Sam
Chan from Sydney, Australia. These scholars provided plenary
session presentations and served on a panel to engage questions
from those in attendance. This issue of the journal includes both
Dr. Ajibade’s and Dr. Chan’s thoughtful and challenging

Reflections on the Future of the Evangelical Homiletics Society

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., former president of Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary used to quip, “I’m not a prophet, nor the
son of a prophet, but I work for a non-profit organization.” I
stand before you today not as a prophet, but more as a prompter,
someone who’s at the side or even out of sight reminding people
of things they already know.
Twenty-five years ago, the first Evangelical Homiletics
Society was held on the Hamilton, Massachusetts campus of
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. We were a smaller
group then, maybe about twenty-five persons—men and women
looking to set a new direction for evangelical homiletics.
Ten months before that first founding meeting of our
society, Keith Willhite and I bumped into each other at an
Academy of Homiletics meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We
proceeded to map out a plan for an organization that more
appropriately met our needs theologically—and would open the
door not only to professors of preaching in seminaries but also
those who taught homiletics in Bible Colleges, as well as pastors
who taught preaching adjunctively. We shared this vision with a
The Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society 107
few others who were with us at the meeting, including Timothy
Warren, Endel Lee, Grant Lovejoy, and others.
Keith Willhite (1958-2003) and I divided up the work and
contacted professors of preaching in evangelical seminaries and
Bible Colleges, setting our sights on gathering in October of 1997
at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Desiring wise
guidance, we enlisted the distinguished evangelical leader, Dr.
Vernon Grounds (1914-2010), at that time Chancellor at Denver
Seminary as one of the plenary speakers for that inaugural
meeting. He set the tone for the gathering speaking on “Some
Reflections on Pulpit Rhetoric.”1
My intention for these few moments is not to bore you
with the lore of the long ago and far away beginnings of our
society. Instead, as a prompter, I want to remind us of what and
who we are as a society as we look to the future.
Let me remind ourselves of who we are:
The Evangelical Homiletics Society is an academic society
formed for the exchange of ideas related to the instruction
of biblical preaching. The purpose of the Society is to
advance the cause of biblical preaching through the
promotion of a biblical-theological approach to preaching;
to increase competence for teachers of preaching; to
integrate the fields of communication, biblical studies, and
theology; to make scholarly contributions to the field of
This statement was carefully crafted in 1997 by those who
attended the first meeting—and it is the guide-star for our future
as well. This purpose statement will shape my promptings to all
of us as we consider the life and work of our society in the coming
years. As we look back on twenty-five years, we look forward to
God’s intended future for us, and I am here to remind us of who
we are as we set our sights on the future.

Sermon: The Sides of Preaching

Have you ever worn anything inside out? Sometimes we’ll put
on a sweatshirt inside out because we like it that way, or it has
paint or spots on the outside, so we wear it inside out. At other
times, we wear articles of clothing inside out unintentionally.
That happened to my sister, Jeanine. She got herself
dressed for a day of grocery shopping and general errand
running. She didn’t realize until she got home later that day and
looked at herself in the mirror that her blouse was inside out.
Over the course of the day she ran into her former mailman,
Scott, at the grocery store. She saw some neighbors and other
friends—all the while wearing a blouse that was turned inside
out. “Everybody could see the raw edges of the blouse because it
was turned inside out,” she detailed. “I didn’t know when I
dressed myself in the morning that in the afternoon, I’d find that
I had made my rounds with a blouse that was inside out.”
Inside out and outside in—that’s how we live our lives,
and that’s how we live our lives as preachers, isn’t it? People—
even our listeners—can see who we are on the outside and who we are on the inside. They can see the raw edges of our lives or
the smooth seams of God’s grace in how we live and who we are.
This was Paul’s message of encouragement to Timothy as
he was eager to navigate life as he served as preacher at the
church in Ephesus. Paul reminds Timothy that church at Ephesus
wasn’t an easy church to pastor. There were heresies and
resistances that Timothy would have to engage with wisdom and
grace. Paul was reminding Timothy that as their preacher, the
church was exposed to his inside and outside self.
We may not realize it for ourselves, but we have—our
preaching has—an outside and an inside feature to it. We see this
displayed in the text this morning. Please turn to 1 Timothy 4:11-
16, that’s 1 Timothy 4:11-16. As I read the text, try to find with me
the outside and inside dimensions of preaching. That’s 1 Timothy
Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look
down on you because you are young, but set an
example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in
faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the
public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through
prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them,
so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life
and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do,
you will save both yourself and your hearers.
What does this text tell us about the sides of preaching? It tells us
that preaching is outside in.

The Preacher and the Text

For homileticians, there is the preacher and the biblical text.
Without these there is no mouthpiece, but, more importantly,
without the text there is nothing to preach. The preacher needs
the text and the texts needs a preacher. The two are integrally
intertwined. Paul reminds us in Romans 10:14, “And how can
they hear without someone preaching to them?” Yet, as we
know, God empowers the Word itself to speak, even to preach to
people in far-flung places where the flesh of a mouthpiece is
absent. We’re told that the Lord’s word goes out from his mouth:
“It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Is. 55:11).
These are reassuring words. God’s Word read or preached
accomplishes the purposes of the Lord in the lives of men and
women, boys and girls. And, amazingly, the Lord uses the
preacher and the text to achieve his desired intentions. This
edition of The Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society both
preacher and text are explored.

Preaching Plus

There might be variations of homiletical math. In my teaching of Haddon Robinson’s philosophy of preaching I instruct my students that to get the idea of a passage one uses the following homiletical math formula: S + C = I. That is, subject question plus the complement answer equals the exegetical idea.
But it strikes me that we can apply homiletical math to other areas of preaching. We could call this formula “preaching plus.” That is, preaching can be considered as an addition to a given area of study. For example, preaching plus history directs us to discover how and if preaching has had an impact in historical development in any culture or context. Preaching plus psychology may help us to discover how preaching intersects with the field of psychology. Further examples may come to your
mind. But the point here is to help us to see that the intersection of preaching with other fields and situations or contexts is far-reaching.