Monday, June 15, 2009

Preaching Diagrams

As our "sermoneutics" class is winding down, I presented the following illustrations to instruct about preaching.

The Frustration of Preaching

Many people falsely use the Shema as a tool to dissect man into three compartments.* Then, after severing the man into pieces, the preacher is left to figure out "where" he is to aim. Does he aim for the mind and preach intellectually? Does he aim for the heart and preach emotionally? Does he aim for action and preach motivationally?

And that's just thinking about one member of the audience! Consider also that within any congregation, you're going to have people who also say these three things:

      "I come to church to learn. I want to be fed."
      "I come to church for worship. I want to feel."
      "I come to church to change. I want to be told what to do."
So, what is the preacher to do? Simply preach according to his own giftedness? If you're more intellectual, emotional or motivational, simply preach in that way. Do you evaluate the audience? Figure out which demographic you have and preach accordingly. Does the text determine it? Perhaps the passage determines where you aim.

Or, is the preacher called to try to do all three at once, every time? Yet, clearly this can effect how crisp and sharp the message truly is.

* Many assume that Moses (and Jesus here was breaking man into three parts. However, this formula--which most people are familiar--is not based upon these words, but upon Greek philosophy. One can quickly see that these words do not mean three separate parts when one considers Jesus occasionally added a fourth dimension. A quick scan of Scripture will also show that God speaks of the mind and the heart in much the same way throughout the Bible.


David Mohler said...

What's the difference in your frustration if the person is bipartite rather than tripartite?

Does that reduce the problem by 1/3, or eliminate it altogether?

danny2 said...

as you probably remember from my comments on the article you wrote, i just don't simply believe the divisions are as easy to make:

Shema: heart (Spirit?), soul (soul?), might (body?)

that seems easy enough...but what about Jesus' statement that is linked in the post:

heart (Spirit?), soul (soul), mind (?) and strength (body?)

this however, is a minor issue, for i see solid theologians on both sides of that fence.

a greater annoyance is the man who sees the heart and mind as totally segregated and makes it an issue of emotion, intellect and volition...without seeing these tightly woven together.

therefore, as this post points out, some men think you either preach to a man's intellect OR to his emotion OR to his will OR rapid-fire-shotgun-style approach to all three.

i think there is a different way, which i plan to show in the following posts.

David Mohler said...

OK, but I want to know if there a difference in the preacher's frustration if he views the person as bipartite rather than tripartite?

In other words, does bipratitism reduce the frustration of preaching by 1/3, or eliminate it altogether?

danny2 said...

i'm not sure my frustrations can be quantified in decimals, fractions or percentages.


would bipartite preaching only deal with mind/emotion or application?

that's still pretty frustrating!

Darby Livingston said...

You guys have an interesting discussion going. I avoid it altogether by preaching to the pancreas.

danny2 said...


only you would have the "gall" to do that!