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Review: Christ-Centered Preaching, 3rd Edition

Bryan Chapell's celebrated preaching book Christ-Centered Preaching (Baker Academic, 2018), now in its third edition, continues to prove itself as an indispensable resource for beginning and seasoned preachers alike. Chapell sets forth a vision of expository preaching, sermons that are sourced from scriptural themes rather than personal topics. He then describes the process of developing expository sermons, including explanation, structuring, illustrations, applications, introductions, conclusions, and transitions.

In his final chapters, Chapell turns to his contribution to the field of homiletics: redemptive sermons. For Chapell, "Christ-centered preaching" does not necessarily mean mystically finding Christ in every passage but showing how each passage points to Christ's saving work. The "Fallen Condition Focus," as the author coins, is redeemed by the Gospel. It is this redemptive-historical view, also seen in the separate but often overlapping river of the New Homiletic, that allows sermons to be presented not as moralistic or legalistic but as good news.

The third edition of this book is an attractive casebound book with revisions to citations and tightening of sentences for clarity. While a redemptive view of Scripture was revolutionary at the time of the first edition, given the advances in the field of biblical theology, Chapell modifies his message to reflect a now normative approach to hermeneutics. Furthermore, he responds to new trends in homiletics, namely, narrative preaching. He is careful to separate himself in practice but gracefully remind readers that their homiletical theologies may be closer than expected.

The primary strength of Chapell's book is that it is comprehensive and lucid. Frequent examples and graphics make his points easy to understand. Additionally, Chapell devotes much time to integrating secular communication theory in the public performance of a sermon. His suggestions for effective delivery, mostly tucked into the deep appendices, are incredibly valuable. Even those who do not fall into his particular, Reformed homiletical camp will benefit greatly from the practical tips apart from his theology of preaching. This book should be required reading for all seminarians and preachers.

(My thanks is given to Baker for providing a complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review.)


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