Preaching?: Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching by Alec Motyer
“The Word of God is the constitutive reality at the heart of the Church” (p. 18).
There are as many ideas about how to grow a church as there are books on the subject. There are books that focus on meeting felt needs, worship strategies, small groups and a myriad of other ministries that can be maximized to grow your church. However, what many of these books fail to recognize or address is that the bedrock of growing a church is the ministry of the Word through preaching.
With a biblical focus on the Word of God at the heart of a church Alec Motyer has written Preaching?: Simple Teaching on Simply Preaching. As the Old Testament editor for The Bible Speaks Today series, Motyer has turned his pen to writing on preaching and has written a book that addresses both the biblical-theological aspects as well as some practical issues.
The first five chapters address the nature of preaching. These chapters are exegetically grounded in various passages of Scripture. Motyer defines good preaching as that which has a “sense of being plain and unmistakable” (p. 11). Preaching that is good is to be expositional, that is, “the restatement of a Scripture” (p. 30). Motyer wants to impress upon his readers that preaching is the ground upon which the whole church grows and functions. All ministry grows out of the Word and the preaching of the Word. His exegetical work deals with many NT passages that provide us with the nature and task of faithful biblical preachers. His observation, especially of the book of Acts, is that it is the ministry of the preaching of the Word that drove the growth of the early church. Surely there were other attending contributions, like the work of the Spirit through the Word, but it was always the Word that led the way and was responded to.
The second half of the book addresses several issues surrounding sermon prep along with some discussion on application and the spiritual life of the preacher. For sermon preparation, Motyer discusses five aspects: examination, analysis, orientation, harvesting and presentation. These deal with knowing and understanding the resources available for good exegesis, doing the task of exegesis itself and extracting the heart of a text for presentation. On the preachers spiritual life, Motyer turns to the lives of Paul, Ezekiel and Isaiah to draw practical encouragement and direction as the preacher does his divine task. In chapter thirteen, Motyer continues this focus on the life of the preacher as he highlights Paul’s words in Acts 20:28 to “take heed to yourselves.”
Preaching? is exactly as the subtitle states, a book that has simple teaching on simply preaching. Motyer does not break new ground on the nature and practice of preaching. What he does is give us a good reminder of the preachers responsibility as a minister of the Word of God. This is a great primer on preaching for preachers young and old.
Alec Motyer was formerly principal of Trinity College in Bristol, England. He is well known as a Bible expositor and from an early age has had a love for studying God’s Word. He is the author of several books, and he is Old Testament editor of IVP’s commentary series, The Bible Speaks Today. He has written several volumes in that series.
Theology of the Reformers 25th Anniversary Edition by Timothy George
At the end of his life, Augustine wrote what has become a very misunderstood book, especially by those who have not read it or any of his previous works. The book was titled Retractationes which literally means “re-treatments.” Augustine retraced his works and addressed many of the things he had already written by way of clarifications and some changes. Augustine was not recanting of the things he wrote but rather coming to them once again as a more seasoned believer and theologian.
In 1988, while teaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Timothy George wrote Theology of the Reformers, which, unbeknownst to him, would become a standard work on the subject and would be translated into several languages. Twenty five years later George has come back to his first book, not to retract from his original work, but in some ways like Augustine, to revise and expand his work from the vantage point of a seasoned historian of theology.
Recognizing that some today would balk at a book of its nature, George defends his original work, and its now revised edition when he states:
Theology, when it is given any truck at all, is usually given a quaint form of belles lettres, which the Reformation is generally perceived as having lost much of its explanatory valence as a coherent term of historical understanding. This book assumes the contrary on two accounts: theology matters, and the Reformation of the sixteenth century is a critical, even essential, epoch for our understanding of the Christian story then and now. (1)
The original work focused on the theology of Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin and Menno Simons. The new edition includes a chapter on William Tyndale. The rationale for discussing these five reformers over others is that “each of these figures stands at the headwaters of a major confessional tradition in the Reformation.” (17) Luther with the Protestants of the Augusburg Confession, Zwingli and Calvin with the Reformed tradition, Tyndale with the English Reformation and as a translator of Scripture, and Simmons with the Anabaptists. The historical, cultural and political climate these Reformers faced, provides the backdrop through which their theological beliefs emerge and which forms the primary focus of the book. George shows the reader that the questions and issues facing the Reformers still face the church today.
Theology of the Reformers 25th Anniversary Edition is a welcome continuance of George’s original work. Lovers of the original book, the Reformation and its history and new students of Reformation theology will love this book. I highly recommend it!
Timothy George has served as dean of Beeson Divinity School since its inception in 1988. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, George teaches Church History and Doctrine. He serves as senior theological advisor for Christianity Today and is on the editorial advisory boards of First Things, Harvard Theological Review, and Books & Culture. A prolific author, he has written more than twenty books and regularly contributes to scholarly journals.
Craig Hurst received his BA in Church Ministries from Clearwater Christian College and his MA in theology at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He currently lives outside of Grand Rapids, MI and attends Grace Community Church, where he serves as a volunteer youth worker (along with his wife), and teaches some elective classes. He blogs at Theology for the Road.