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.

May “Flights of Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest” My Reflections on the Speech of King Charles III

Queen Elizabeth II was the longest reigning monarch in British history. After serving her people well for 70 years, on Thursday, Sept. 8th, 2022, at the ripe age of 96, Queen Elisabeth II passed away at her summer home, Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Immediately after her passing, her heir, Charles, the Prince of Wales, ascended to the throne, becoming King Charles III. In this momentous historical context, fraught with sorrow over the queen’s passing and laden with questions about the future of the British monarchy, one of the new king’s first responsibilities was to deliver a speech. It would be a speech that could make, break, or damage his reign and the future of monarchy. The delivery of the new king’s speech was no light matter. The long historical arc of communication has taught us
that some speeches outlive their delivery, impacting people for good for years and for generations to come; the Gettysburg Address, delivered by Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States in 1863, and the I Have a Dream speech, delivered by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist Minister, 100 years later in 1963, serve as classic examples.
With so much at stake in this moment, what would the new king say? What would be the content of the speech? Would he use vivid verbs and robust nouns? What imagery would he employ to make clear his ideas and thoughts? Will he speak in such a way that the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and the world will listen? I watched the video of King Charles III speech several times. In my professional judgement, the speech was wonderful, powerful—well delivered. As I watched and listened, I concluded before God that biblical preachers and communicators could learn a number of important lessons from the new King’s speech. In the remainder of this editorial, I will
focus on two lessons.

“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.

When the Levee Breaks: J. Gresham Machen and “The Good Fight of Faith”

In this article, I rhetorically analyze J. Gresham Machen’s final
chapel sermon at Princeton Theological Seminary entitled “The
Good Fight of Faith” to reconstruct and situate a watershed
moment in the American church. Machen, although unknown to
many rhetorical scholars, was one of the most important
evangelical voices in the cultural shift that occurred at Princeton
theological seminary during the early twentieth century. As the
threat of Modernism overtook the conservative orthodoxy of the
school through a scientistic discourse, Machen vigorously
defended the boundaries of historic Christianity both in his
speaking and writing. In this final sermon before the seminary’s
reorganization and his resignation, Machen employs a rhetoric of
orthodoxy to clarify the reformed faith’s doxa and thus draw
distinctions between historical Christianity and Modernism.
“The Good Fight of Faith” uniquely demonstrates the ritualistic
nature of celebrating orthodoxy and how, in doing so,
interlocutors can be called to stand and struggle for the
continuation of tradition. Such research also calls for a renewed
interest in the intersection of rhetorical tradition and homiletics
in lieu of their profitable relationship for drawing boundaries,
maintaining orthodoxy, and advancing the gospel.

What Ezra 2 Has to Teach Us About Biblical Lists

Lists of names in the Bible can often be a stumbling block for
many preachers. This article is an attempt to help preachers read
and preach biblical lists by using Ezra 2 as a case study. First, this
paper will provide a series of questions to ask the text in an
attempt of exegeting it. Questions such as, why does Ezra use a
list in chapter 2? What are the names included in the list? What
is highlighted or downplayed in this list? How are the people in
the list arranged? How is Ezra 2 connected to the surrounding
narratives? Second, attention will be paid as to how we as New
Testament believers should understand Ezra 2. Third, we will
transit from the text to a sermon, where suggestions will be
offered as to how a sermon can emanate out of our study of Ezra
2. This paper will argue that Ezra 2 is more than just a list of
unrelated names. Rather, it encapsulates a powerful message that God is using you and me to show the world that he is in the
process of bringing his restoration in Jesus.

On the Willows We Hung Our Harps: Preaching the Lament and Hope of Psalm 137

A genre that poses particular difficulty for preachers is
imprecatory lament. Psalms that call for vengeance are often a
mystery as we plan and prepare to preach. Yet if we are
committed to preaching the whole of the canon we must be
willing and able to preach these hard and sad texts to our
listeners. This paper will explore imprecatory lament for
preaching, first considering different lenses for their
interpretation and adoption in worship, and then working
through one of the most violent, Psalm 137, in a covenantal
context as an image of how we might engage these texts for
proclamation. We can faithfully preach the terrible beauty of
Psalm 137, and other imprecations, by aligning with the
psalmist’s pain and anger within the context of God’s indelible
faithfulness. This is timely as we are inundated with news of
tragedy, injustice, and pain in areas such as pandemic deaths,
racial division and violence, mass shootings, and war. The
lament and hope of Psalm 137 gives the preacher something to
say in the midst of tragedy as he or she seeks to bring hope to the

Book Reviews (22-2)

The God of the Dangerous Sermon, Frank A. Thomas (Reviewer: Lawrence E. Aker III)
How Women Transform Preaching, Leonora Tubbs Tisdale (Reviewer: Caroline Smith)
The Bible Expositor’s Handbook: Old and New Testament, Greg Harris (Reviewer: Drew Tillman)
The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative, 2nd ed., Steven D. Mathewson (Reviewer: Will Wilson)
The Ministry of Women in the New Testament, Dorothy A. Lee (Reviewer: Bearett Wolverton)
Preacher Girl: Uldine Utley and the Industry of Revival, Thomas A. Robinson (Reviewer: Heather Joy Zimmerman)
Preaching Second Corinthians, James W. Thompson (Reviewer: Meghan Bishop)
Unspeakable: Preaching and Trauma-Informed Theology, Sarah Travis (Reviewer: Joshua Peeler)
Her Preaching Body: Conversations About Identity, Agency, and Embodiment Among Contemporary Female Preachers, Amy P. McCullough (Reviewer: Nathan Wright)
Galatians. From Commentaries for Christian Formation, N. T. Wright (Reviewer: Todd H. Hilkemann)
Writing for the Ear, Preaching from the Heart, Donna Giver Johnston (Reviewer: Kristopher Barnett)
Hiding in the Pews: Shining Light on Mental Illness in the Church, Steve Austin (Reviewer: Field Thigpen)
Sermons that Sing: Music and the Practice of Preaching, Noel A. Snyder (Reviewer: Ken Langley)
The Manifold Beauty of Genesis One: A Multi-Layered Approach, Gregg Davidson and Kenneth J. Turner (Reviewer: Gregory K. Hollifield)
The Parables: Jesus’s Friendly Subversive Speech, Douglas D. Webster (Reviewer: Russell St. John)
Sermon Listening: A New Approach Based on Congregational Studies and Rhetoric, Enoh Šeba (Reviewer: Jeremy Kimble)
The Third Room of Preaching: A New Empirical Approach, Marianne Gaarden (Reviewer: J. David Duncan)
The Rhetorical Approach to 1 Thessalonians, Ezra JaeKyung Cho (Reviewer: Derek Kitterlin)
Revival Preaching: Twelve Lessons from Jonathan Edwards, Ernest Eugene Klassen (Reviewer: Paul A. Hoffman)
Making a Scene in the Pulpit: Vivid Preaching for Visual Listeners, Alyce McKenzie (Reviewer: Dave Bland)
Preaching and the Thirty-Second Commercial: Lessons from Advertising for the Pulpit, O. Wesley Allen and Carrie La Ferle (Reviewer: Cameron R. Thomas)
The Return of Oral Hermeneutics: As Good Today as It Was for the Hebrew Bible and First-Century Christianity, Tom Steffen and William Bjoraker (Reviewer: Eric Price)
Paul and the Hope of Glory: An Exegetical and Theological Study, Constantine R. Campbell (Reviewer: Greg R. Scharf)
Topical Preaching in a Complex World: How to Proclaim Truth and Relevance at the Same Time, Sam Chan and Malcolm Gill (Reviewer: Reginald D. Taylor)