Biblical theologies are all the rage these days, and I’ll be the first to admit that I am quick to jump at reading anything that claims that topic. I am also, by vocation, a preacher. When you combine “biblical theology” with “preaching,” you will peak my interest. So I was very interested to read and review Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason C. Meyer. Yet I had some other reasons to read this book. Beyond the fact that Meyer has written another book I really enjoyed (The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology), he also stepped into some big shoes: Jason is the Pastor for Preaching & Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church. In other words, Pastor Jason has transitioned into the role that was filled by John Piper for thirty three years. Those are big shoes to fill, regardless of what you may think of Piper.
Preaching is broken into five parts with twenty-three chapters. In addition, there are three appendices that make the book a grand total of 368 pages. This is a comprehensive collection of ideas and arguments serving to underlie Meyer’s agreement with Martyn Lloyd-Jones that “preaching is the highest calling and the greatest need for the church and the world.”
The first part, “The Big Picture: Biblical Theology of the Ministry of the Word,” covers the what of preaching, the how of preaching, and how Scripture functions in our preaching. There’s also an interesting chapter, “Paradigm Shifts of Stewardship,” that discusses the progression of the biblical story through the different kinds of stewards of God’s word.
The second part, “A Survey of Paradigm Shifts in the Ministry of the Word,” builds on the previous chapter and is, essentially, the biblical theology that Meyer is providing. Over eleven chapters, Meyer works from Adam and the Patriarchs to the Judges, Kings, and Prophets until he reaches Jesus, the Apostles, and pastors (along the way he also discusses the psalmists and scribes).
Meyer’s third part, “Expository Preaching Today,” includes three chapters that basically make a case for expository preaching being extremely important for the church of today. Post-modernism, according to Meyer’s argument, has not brought about a need to change this method of preaching.
The fourth part, “Sounds from Systematic Theology,” helpfully discusses how different theological disciplines (i.e., systematics) functions in the application of preaching. Furthermore, the chapter “Topical Preaching: Friend of Foe?” does a great job of arguing for good topical preaching and pointing out what many of us find questionable about what often passes as a topical sermon. Anyone who preaches topical sermons should consider Meyer’s ideas and it was nice reading that Meyer is not antagonistic against topical sermons and even preaches them. Based on the previous chapters, I found this somewhat surprising, but a welcome surprise!
Finally, the fifth part, “Conclusions and Applications,” includes only one chapter, “Stewardship of the Word Today.” In this last chapter, Meyer ties up some loose ends and helps point readers to the importance of applications and avoiding the danger of making a big deal of ourselves rather than making a big deal about Jesus.
The three appendices will be of interest for homiletic nerds (which I am) because it gives the background to the book, why it’s different, and a survey of the different books on the subject of preaching that are often used in evangelical circles.
Evaluating Preaching isn’t very difficult. It’s robustly biblical, thoughtfully theological, and with some reflection, highly applicable. Meyer is that rare breed of pastor-scholar, so his ideas are big and bold and should be read, I think, slowly. There is much to consider.
His biblical theology is not the same type of biblical theology that others are advancing, but it’s interesting nonetheless. To take the topic of preaching and look at it through all of Scripture is admirable and I think he, more often than not, builds on themes that certainly exist and ideas that connect. I’m not convinced that all of his arguments work or that all of his views are as “biblical” as he obviously thinks or always helpful for the global church, but my criticisms are so minor that they hardly require mention. Perhaps it’s better to say that Meyer’s Preaching is like any great book… lots to learn, lots to agree with, and a few things here and there that you might have questions about.
Overall, Preaching is a great addition to the world of homiletics.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review*