Preaching: Conversational Stand-up or Serious Gospel Exposition?

A typically provocative word from Carl Trueman on the legacy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the “Doctor” (HT: JT):

We have leaders with a lot of swagger and `street cred’; Lloyd-Jones had gravitas and did not care to be cool.  Lloyd-Jones may have been less than clear on what he wanted in 1966, but he always had complete clarity about the gospel and little time for trendy diversions.  We have leaders whose politeness too often creates an atmosphere of ambiguity and uncertainty; Lloyd-Jones spoke on doctrinal issues with unerring clarity.   He was obviously a serious man of conviction with a seriously convicting message.  And, for the record, I would take five minutes of his serious gospel exposition over an hour of the conversational stand-up of today’s cutting-edge preachers any day.

Read the whole piece.  I, for one, am with Trueman; though I appreciate some humor and personality in the pulpit, I prefer “serious gospel exposition” to a running comedic monologue loosely based on a passage.  I think we could stand to have more of the former and a bit less of the latter.  Young preachers–emulate figures like Lloyd-Jones.  Decades later, we’re still engaging his sermons and profiting hugely from them; the fluffy stuff will blow away like chaff.

Preaching to my mind doesn’t mean the snuffing out of personality.  But it does mean that the text has center stage, and not the wit/charm/candor of the preacher.  I’m thankful for the example of a figure like MLJ, who spoke with great power yet made clear that the sermon was an exposition of the sacred text.

  • Jonathan

    false dichotomy

  • owenstrachan

    Not if your preaching could be characterized one way or the other, and I would say that unfortunately, this can be true of us. There’s a temptation today to be funny, winning, charming, tell stories, and not really dig into the text.

    You call it a false dichotomy, Jonathan, but I’ve sat under and heard such preaching.

  • John

    It isn’t only the preacher-jokester that should be restrained. Vague preaching clothed in soft pastels and heart-string tugs needs to keep its place, too. And the “save the people” emphasis – been done, now we just need to proclaim it as Gospel rather than politics. Preach the Bible – nothing else matters in the long run, anyway!

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