Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Book Review: He Is Not Silent

He Is Not Silent
Preaching in a Postmodern World
by R. Albert Mohler
© 2008, Moody Press
174 pages

I received a CBD gift card for Christmas from family. Though I ordered it in early January, the snowy weather delayed it's arrival by a few days. It arrived two days before we left for a Pastors' Conference (and one day before SB43). Though I can barely look at a map in the car, I have no problem reading in a plane (other than staying awake for a 6am flight), so it quickly became my travel companion. I virtually knocked the book out on the flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis and back.

Strong Quotes
Mohler is no mental lightweight, but perhaps the most telling sign of his intellect is his concise and clear use of language. My pages were filled with highlights, underlines and comments in the margin. He is a master of developing a thought throughout a paragraph or page that culminates in one strong sentence or two. Some examples:

The audacious claim of Christian preaching is that the faithful declaration of the Word of God, spoken through the preacher's voice, is even more powerful than anything music or image can deliver.--p 17

The preaching of the apostles always presented the kerygma--the heart of the gospel. The clear presentation of the gospel must be a part of the sermon, no matter the text.--p 20-21

True worship always proclaims the gospel, the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ. It proclaims the work of Christ, and it centers in the cross.--p 35

I realize it might seem bold--and maybe even shocking to some--to say that preaching in the central component of Christian worship. But how could it be otherwise? For it is primarily through the preaching of Scripture that we come to a true vision of the living God, recognize our sinfulness, hear the declaration of redemption, and are called to a response of faith, repentance, and service.--p 35-36

A theology of preaching begins with the humble acknowledgement that preaching is not a human invention but a gracious creation of God and a central part of His revealed will for the church.--p 39

One of the first steps to a recovery of authentic Christian preaching is to stop saying, "I prefer expository preaching." Rather, we should define exactly what we mean when we say "preach." What we mean is, very simply, reading the text and explaining it--reproving, rebuking, exhorting, and patiently teaching directly from the text of Scripture. If you are not doing that, then you are not preaching.--p 52

If you are not confident that God speaks as you rightly read and explain the Word of God, then you should quit.--p 57

The preaching ministry is not a profession to be joined but a call to be answered.--p 71

Of this we can be certain--no congregation will revere the Bible more than the preacher does.--p 73

Every Sunday, far too many preachers read a wee little text, apply it in wee little ways to the people's lives, and then tell everyone to come back next week for another wee little story.--p 89

Every single text of Scripture points to Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all, and therefore He is the Lord of the Scriptures too. From Moses to the prophets, He is the focus of every single word of the Bible. Every verse of Scripture finds its fulfillment in Him, and every story in the Bible ends with Him. That is what our people need to understand--that the Bible is not just a compendium of good short stories, but a grand, life-encompassing metanarrative of God's work of redemption in the world.

Every time we preach a text of Scripture, we are accountable to that text. We must read and explain accurately to our people what that text means and how it applies to their lives. Yet we have another task as well, for we must take that particular text and place it within the larger story of Scripture.--p 96

The pastor who is no theologian is no pastor.--p 114

Instead, our perseverance in the task of preaching must be based on God's promise that He will, by His own power, make the preaching of His Word effective.--p 147

Though the subtitle is Preaching in a Postmodern World, Mohler only spends one chapter (8) looking specifically at the challenges of postmodernity. I think this was a wise decision. Instead, he puts the focus on defining real preaching and where that authority comes from. He also shows how God's people have always grown through the right preaching of the word. Bottom line, if we preach Biblically, it is applicable for modernity, postmodernity or post-postmodernity. The preaching of the Word of Christ truly is timeless.

Mohler is probably better equipped than almost anyone to comment on the conditions of the culture and philosophies of this age, yet this book is not written as a panic manual...calling the church to adapt her ways before she become extinct. No, Mohler simply calls the pastor back to the Word of God. Why were you called? For what have you been called? What have you been called to preach? Why will it work? He reminds the pastor that we did not stumble upon preaching because it works (allowing that someday it may quit working and we abandon it), but instead we have been commissioned to preach, because God has said it works. And it works, because He makes it work! On page 157, Mohler states:
People often ask me, "Are you hopeful?" And the answer is yes, I am hopeful. I am not optimistic. Christians have no right to be optimistic, but at the same time we have no right not to be hopeful. Optimism is a belief that things are finally going to end up happy. Hope on the other hand, means that we know the Lord God of all creation, who sits in the heavens and rules over all the people of the earth. We know His grace. We know His mercy. We know His holiness, His character, and His love. Above all, we know His Son, and thus we live in hope.

This book caused my hope to burn more hotly. I would rate it a must read for any pastor/missionary and a definitely should read for faithful members of a church.

1 comment:

Keith said...

Amen to these quotes !