Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Doctrinal Preaching

The great Welsh preacher of the last century, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this, "I would lay down a general proposition that preaching must always be theological, always based on a theological foundation." That is to say, preaching must always teach. And what is to be taught is biblical doctrine.

This conviction is clearly seen in the preaching of the Puritans of the seventeenth century. After introducing the theme and direction of his sermon it was common for the Puritan pastor to set forth his exposition of the text under the heading of "Doctrine." Only after this were applications (called "Uses" or "Rules") made. J. I. Packer explains the Puritan approach to doctrinal preaching,
To be a good expositor...one must first be a good theologian. Theology - truth about God and man - is what God has put into the texts of Scripture, and theology is what preachers must draw out of them. To the question, "Should one preach doctrine?", the Puritan answer would have been, "Why, what else is there to preach?" Puritan preachers were not afraid to bring the profoundest theology into the pulpit if it bore on their hearers' salvation, nor to demand that men and women apply themselves to mastering it, nor to diagnose unwillingness to do so as a sign of insincerity.
Packer appropriately summarizes the importance of this approach by noting, "Doctrinal preaching certainly bores the hypocrites; but it is only doctrinal preaching that will save Christ's sheep. The preacher's job is to proclaim the faith, not to provide entertainment for unbelievers - in other words, to feed the sheep rather than amuse the goats.

Thomas Ascol, The Pastor as Theologian, The Founders Journal (Issue 43 Winter 2001), p.7


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