Skip to main content

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.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Trinity Without Hierarchy

Some recent evangelical trends have insisted that the Son is subordinate to the Father. It is in response to such complementarian theologians that the contributors to Trinity Without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology (Kregel Academic, 2019) write. Edited by Mike Bird and Scott Harrower, sixteen respected theologians from around the world have come together to rescue the doctrine of the Trinity and reclaim the Nicene position, that all persons of the Trinity are co-eternal and co-equal.

The first essays introduce the doctrine of the Trinity from a New Testament standpoint, followed by a set of essays that trace Nicene Trinitarianism through church history, from Athanasius to the Reformers to Pannenberg. Although written with varying levels of difficulty—from introductory surveys to advanced theological treatments—each essay is short and digestible. The implications of the doctrine of the Trinity meet the challenges of modern evangelicalism, particularly su…

Review: Practicing the Preaching Life

Most preachers burn out. So claims celebrated homiletician and preaching professor David Ward. Ward contends that, while preaching is a life-giving activity, most practices of it lead to exhaustion and life waste. In his new book, Practicing the Preaching Life (Abingdon, 2019), Ward sets out to paint a practical theology of preaching that spiritually forms preachers and brings renewal, not only to preachers, but to their listeners as well.

Ward, as a student in the New Homiletic, draws heavily on Augustine and Aristotle, who view preaching as a means to embed virtues within the preacher. He begins by establishing a correct theology of preaching: what makes good preaching "good"? What are the offices of the preacher? From there, he moves toward practical applications, including weekly sermon preparation routines and sermon forms. Ward's approach to preaching practice, however, diverges from traditional books that either offer homiletical theory with little application, o…

Review: The Significance of Singleness

In this much-needed book, theologian Christian Hitchcock develops a vision for singleness and the church. Recent evangelical tendencies, argues Hitchcock, view singleness as a problem rather than an asset, a curse rather than a blessing. Drawing from her own experiences as a single Christian woman, Hitchcock skillfully combines personal reflection, historical evidence, and biblical-theological support to claim that single persons are themselves a theologically significant group.

Hitchcock begins by tackling the problem of singleness head-on. She describes the perception of the “problem of singleness,” from pop culture to the Marriage Mandate Movement. In her view, American evangelicalism views marriage as the most desired social institution, under which nothing can compare. Most of her examples come from her experience as a student and professor at small Christian colleges, which have a notorious tendency to inflate issues of marriage. Hitchcock then turns to three figures from churc…