Speaking of the pastoral task of preaching Theodore Beza says this, “The Lord does not want only that we believe, but he wants us to believe from the heart. . . . [N]ever will a man be recognized as a Christian before God, unless he believes inwardly and shows it clearly on the outside.” I don’t have the responsibility of providing a weekly sermon but I am sure that it is safe to assume that this is the goal of many pastors, that their parishioners believe from the depth of their innermost being. Such belief enters the mind then affects the heart and herein lies the challenge. To preach to the mind of believers in such a way as to impact the heart so that it shows clearly on the outside.
That is the sub-title of Joel Beeke’s book, Reformed Preaching (RP): Proclaiming God’s Word From The Heart Of The Preacher To The Heart Of His People. This is exactly what Beeke successfully conveys. He begins by explaining the pitfalls of opposite extremes. On the one hand, there is preaching that attempts to impart knowledge, nothing else. That kind of preaching results in a mind that is puffed up and not very suitable for the Christian life. Conversely, there is the emotionally driven form of preaching that lacks the substance to sustain an actively obedient Christian life. To this Beeke opts for a third approach which is to preach from the head to the heart. This approach seems to make sense because what truly stirs our heart is the information received by the mind.
Part two of RP is a fascinating read. Here Beeke presents preaching as its been done by some of the most notable preachers in Church history. It is fascinating to read about historical preachers like Zwlingli, Calvin, Beza, Bunyan, Edwards, and Lloyd-Jones. It stands to reason that a book on Reformed preaching would look to the bright lights of the past as models for preaching today. Here Beeke discusses topics such as preaching styles, habits, and processes. As the reader, you gain an intimate understanding of these historic figures and how the preached experientially.
In the final section of RP Beeke discusses the principles of part 2 and applies them to contemporary preaching principles that can be used in our world. This is where Beeke discusses what it means to be an experiential preacher today. Overall RP is a very good and accessible read. Even if one is not interested in the subject the historical readings are fantastic. It is quite interesting to read how these faithful preachers handled the text and why they did things the way that the did. While RP is a good book for preachers I think its interesting for the laity as well. My personal rating is 5 out of 5 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”