Review: Preaching? Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching

Alec Motyer, Christian Focus, 2013, 148 pages, 3 of 5 stars

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-1-49-40-pmThe renowned British scholar Alec Motyer passed on to glory a few months ago. For all of his academic accomplishments, his book on Bible proclamation shows he was first and foremost a preacher.

Why have a book on preaching anyway? Aren’t preachers born, not made? Motyer says most sermons are poor because they are muddled (“muddle is the characteristic mark of the ill dressed window, the careless baker, and the bad sermon”). So a preacher can improve if only he learns to be plain and unmistakable. Not everyone can be a good preacher, says the author, but no one need be a bad preacher.

A FEW PROS AND A CON

The wise, old Motyer gives plenty of insightful thoughts on preaching. Use didactic, not descriptive headings. “Make them do something.” Above all else, a good sermon is a clear sermon. And don’t be afraid to preach a sermon more than once. He recently had preached a sermon for the nineteenth time he originally prepared in 1967.

His missteps were few. Motyer is not a fan of “you” preaching, suggesting “we” is superior, but I doubt the NT examples would support this. Elsewhere he says Christ is “in” all the Scriptures and ultimately all Scriptural preaching is about Christ. He never supports this with Scripture, however, instead suggesting a sermon on obedience he heard on Psalm 95 with no mention of the gospel was still about Christ.

EXCERPTS

  1. “The reason for preaching is the will of God…the content of preaching is the Bible…the objective of preaching is application…the art of preaching is presentation.” (Loc. 989)
  2. “Alliteration is often a good servant, always a bad master.”
  3. “The question we preachers should constantly ask ourselves is not ‘Am I getting a response?’ but ‘Am I being clear?'” (Loc. 1194)
  4. “Unprepared prayer is as great a menace as unprepared sermons!” (Loc. 1271)
  5. “It is not the most able who are blessed in their ministry, but the most holy.” (Loc. 1478).
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