"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Preached Word: What is required for a sermon?

Robert L. Dabney wrote a book in the 1800s that many accepted across denominational lines as presenting what was required of all sermons preached to the church, every time a sermon was to be preached. These qualities included unity, textual fidelity, Instructiveness, Movement, Point, and Order as well as:

"The next property of the good sermon I have named evangelical tone. This is a gracious character, appropriate to the proclamation of that gospel where 'mercy and truth meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other.' ... We cannot better describe it than in the words of the apostles, when they so frequently speak of their work as 'preaching Christ,' or 'preaching Christ crucified.' We do not conceive that they mean to declare, the only facts they ever recited were those enacted on Calvary, or that they limited themselves exclusively to the one doctrine of vicarious satisfaction for sin. The abstracts of their sermons, recorded in the New Testament, show that this was not true. But we find that these facts and this doctrine were central to their teachings. They recurred perpetually with a prominence suitable to their importance. More than this, they were ever near at hand, as the focus to which every beam of divine truth must converge. The whole revealed system, with its doctrines and duties, was ever presented in gospel aspects. The law, when preached as a rule of conviction, led to the cross. The law, as a rule of obedience, drew its noblest sanctions from the cross. Such being the method of the inspired men, I would willingly define evangelical preaching by the term scriptural. Let the preacher present all doctrines and duties, not in the lights of philosophy or of human ethics, but of the New Testament. And for enforcement of this quality I cannot do better than refer you to the apostle's declaration, that when he came to preach among the Corinthians (1 Cor 2:2) he 'determined not to know anything among them, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.'"

-Robert Dabney. Sacred Rhetoric (renamed in reissue: Evangelical Eloquence) pg 114-115.

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