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Doctrinal Preaching, Part 2

26 October 2007

Previously, I quoted from an interview with Dr. Wayne Shaw. Dr. Shaw has been associated with Lincoln Christian Seminary in Lincoln, IL for over fifty years. He served as academic dean there for 25 years.
PreachingToday.com: Are there any other challenges we have to overcome as we’re dealing with doctrinal preaching?

Wayne Shaw: Probably the ones we have to overcome the most are the sermons we have heard that purport to be doctrinal and the way doctrines have been handled in the past.

The preachers who have tried doctrinal preaching in the past often preach sermons as though they’re doctrinal lectures stood up on their hind legs. They’re taken from a book or from college notes, with the smell of the lamp on them. They’re not related to life.

It’s what someone called “a two-pocket universe”—carrying our doctrines around in one pocket and then living out of the other one. That has to be corrected if doctrinal preaching is to be helpful at all.

I particularly highlighed that last paragraph. Early on in ministry, I can specifically remember taking Dr. James VanBuren’s Christian Doctrine class notes from Manhattan Christian College and making them the outline for numerous sermons. And as I listened to other student (or early graduate) preachers, i recognized the sermons as basically class notes from “Dr. Van.” The same could be said of my notes from Dr. Beuford Bryant’s New Testament Introduction classes from Emmanuel School of Religion. In looking back on them 30 years later (wow…30 years) they are basically good outline notes, but they are definitely not sermons nor really in any shape to be sermon outlines. I may want to glean a point or a scripture from the notes, but they seem as lifelike as a skeleton hanging in a doctors office–the outline is there, but it is lifeless and has no meat. It is even a little gruesome. It is useful in studying how the skeletal system works, but there is much much more to how the body works and even more to understanding how to make it live.

Doctrinal Preaching

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