America’s Best Sermons

America’s Best Sermons July 28, 2011

An interview of Larry Witham:

OK, preachers, what’s the best sermon you’ve read or heard? [Make it one we can access.]

Trevin Wax: What do you consider to be the most important (in terms of influence) sermon in American history and why?

Larry Witham: We’d probably want to look at sermons that came early in our history, and that were therefore discussed at great length since then. So again – I’ll opt for three!

  1. Massachusetts colony Governor John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” (1630) sermon – actually about “Christian charity” – is seen by many as a charter for the founding of America.
  2. A century later, Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners” sermon is viewed as the most eloquent of all Calvinist arguments (and Calvinism played an immense role in U.S. mental culture until the Civil War).
  3. Finally, to think a bit secularly, Abraham Lincoln’s two addresses – at Gettysburg and especially his Second Inaugural – have been extensively read, asserting great influence on how we see religious-type oratory in the nation.
  4. Well, now I’m going to say four “most important”! This allows me to include Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” which spurred a great social change and, by being on television, first introduced Americans broadly to the cadences of black preaching.

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