“I will not be a velvet-mouthed preacher”

July 1, 2009

I heard this quote from a Piper sermon on the life of George Whitefield.  It is regarding the accusation that Whitefield was an “actor” in the pulpit.  But more than that, it speaks much to how we should all handle the Word of God.

This is a quote from one of Whitefield’s sermons:

“I’ll tell you a story.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in the last age, was acquainted with Betterton, the player.  You all have heard of Betterton.  One day the Archbishop of Canterbury said to Betterton the player, ‘Pray inform me, Mr. Betterton, what is the reason you actors on the stage can affect your congregation with things imaginary as if they were real, while we of the church speak of things real, which our congregations only receive as if they were imaginary?’ ‘Why, my Lord Archbishop (says Betterton the player), the reason is very plain.  We actors on the stage speak of things imaginary as if they were real, and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.’

Therefore, I will bawl.  I will bawl.  I will not be a velvet-mouthed preacher.”

SOURCE: http://books.google.com

“I’ll tell you a story.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in the last age, was acquainted with Betterton, the player. You all have heard of Betterton. One day the Archbishop of Canterbury said to Betterton the player, ‘Pray inform me, Mr. Betterton, what is the reason you actors on the stage can affect your congregation with things imaginary as if they were real, while we of the church speak of things real, which our congregations only receive as if they were imaginary?’ ‘Why, my Lord Archbishop (says Betterton the player), the reason is very plain. We actors on the stage speak of things imaginary as if they were real, and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.’

Therefore, I will bawl. I will bawl. I will not be a velvet-mouthed preacher.”


Musings on a Sermon by Iain H. Murray

January 27, 2009

Iain Murray spoke to us in chapel this morning and gave a biographical sketch of Andrew Bonar.  And in concluding he spoke of how Bonar never thought himself a great preacher, and complained greatly of his inconsistent communion with Christ and then said something like this:

The less we know Christ the easier it seems to us to preach Christ.  But the more we know Christ the more difficult preaching seems, for we cannot give Him what is due, we are but dust.

May the day never come when we think it easy to preach Christ, but may we always, because of our communion with Him, be aware of our utter dependence on Him to grant fruit in the foolishness of preaching.


Short Review of Michael Fabarez’s “Preaching that Changes Lives”

October 20, 2008

Overall, I really appreciated Michael’s book – though it was quite eclectic, it was a refreshing read and a good reminder of the task that God has given to those of us who are called to preach.

In his introduction, Fabarez gives the reasons for his book, stemming from the fact that “Jesus’ goal in preaching was to produce a ‘life-changing’ experience” (p. xi). How is this seen in Jesus teaching, Fabarez believes in the simple statement, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” But what Fabarez fails to see is he is trying to take statements directed at the listener to be statements directed at the preacher. If anything, Jesus is not saying “Preachers you need to preach for change,” rather, “Listeners, I just gave you the Word, so now the choice is yours, to believe it or not.” Even when Fabarez quotes from James about being doers and not just hearers, again the statement is toward the listeners, but Fabarez makes it out to be to the preacher. Fabarez then back-pedals slightly by saying that “Some of the blame for this failure in preaching can be rightly attributed to the hardness of the pew-warmer’s hearts” (p. xii). He later goes on to say, while Jesus assumed the message being rightly presented in his parable about the soils, “its proper presentation certainly cannot be assumed today” (p. xiii). But why not? Did Jesus get it wrong? Is the message so complex or difficult? I think Spurgeon had it right (in a quote in this book no less!), “It seems to be that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher” (p. 154). Fabarez eventually gets it right, but I think he could have done a better job at making his case for the book.

A second problem I had with the book (I am focusing on problems, but overall, it was a wonderful read!) this statement: “Since effective preaching rarely springs from manuscripts or memorized scripts, there is always a certain amount of spontaneity in one’s vocabulary….Pray that God’s Spirit will govern your words” (p. 74). I really do not think that is true. Many preachers preach from manuscripts – did not Jonathan Edwards read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”? And why must God be limited to directing extemporaneous preaching? Can God not direct the words of a manuscript, hours before the message is given? I do not feel any biblical mandate to never preach from a manuscript, and many times I feel many a preacher would do well to use one, because their thoughts are so jumbled, and their words so vague. I am not advocating that a sermon be delivered without passion, no in fact great passion should be shown, for it is life or death! But whether God can influence the words coming out of my mouth, or the words written on a page is a foolish argument to make a preacher preach extemporaneously.

I was greatly encouraged by Fabarez’s advice to “interlace” (p. 72) prayer into my sermon preparation. To schedule prayer in, as it were, to the various parts of preparation is a wonderfully practical idea, and will be used.


What’s the difference between teaching and preaching?

October 15, 2008

A very clear cut quote by Michael Fabarez in his Preaching that Changes Lives:

“Some have categorized teaching as preaching to Christians, and preaching as gospel preaching to non-Christians.  Others label teaching a non-emotional lecture that speaks to the mind, and preaching as a polished and passionate proclamation that speaks to the heart.  Though there may be stylistic distinctions between modern evangelistic preaching, Sunday school lectures, and the pastor’s sermon, the biblical differences are inconsequential. The words kerysso, euangelizo, kataangello, anangello and didasko, along with a host of other New Testament words, all add to our understanding of the powerful, authoritative, and life-changing oration the preacher is called to deliver to God’s people.”


Preaching: is it lost?

October 14, 2008

A quote from Packer in Michael Fabarez’s Preaching that Changes Lives (xiv):

“Far too many pulpit discourses have been put together on wrong principles….Som have expounded biblical doctrine without applying it, thus qualifying as lectures rather than preachments (for lecturing aims only to clear the head, while preaching seeks to change the life); some have been no more than addresses focusing the present self-awareness of the listeners, but not at any stage confronting them with the Word of God….Such discourses are less than preaching…but because they were announced as sermons they are treated as preaching and people’s idea of preaching gets formed in terms of them, so that the true conception of preaching is forgotten.”