Preaching with Accuracy
Randal E Pelton, Kregel Publications (2014)
This book is one of the Preaching with… series, and written by RE Pelton, Senior Pastor at Calvary Bible Church, and a teacher at two Bible colleges in the USA. The book states that it presents a method for finding Christ-centred ‘big ideas’ for biblical preaching, an ability that plays a major role in preaching with greater accuracy.
Randal identifies the first skill as the ability to determine the dominant meaning of the preaching portion, and the second skill as the ability to follow the language or concepts in a preaching portion to the gospel.
The aim of the book seems to be to show a method of preparing sermons which works for Randal, but the book seems to target academics or full-time Biblical students. The method is based on three big idea (bi) concepts:
- Discovering the meaning of a textual preaching portion alone (texbi)
- Discovering its meaning in the light of its immediate context (conbi)
- Discovering the context of the entire Canon of Scripture (canbi)
The problem with the book is the assumption that its readers accept wholeheartedly the ‘accuracy’ of the Bible. Accuracy is defined as precise, exact or correct. This book does not wholly address how different passages may give an alternative focus on what was said or done, and how those differences may be incorporated into sermons using the methodology espoused.
For evidence of whether the method works, the reader is directed to a number of sermons on the Calvary Bible College website, where there are over 300 sermons lasting between 40 and 65 minutes! The method is more attuned to teaching rather than preaching. It is difficult to understand how the methodology takes account of the work of the Holy Spirit in sermon preparation. The Holy Spirit does not operate in a precise, exact or correct way (what is correct for one may not be so for someone else). Therefore it is difficult to see how the texbi, conbi or canbi methodology of sermon preparation is conducive to the inexplicable workings of the Holy Spirit on the preacher.
This is an interesting book, which some may find useful in sermon preparation, but its real niche audience seems those undertaking biblical teaching in a college situation or in a Bible study group; the techniques used are fairly standard methods for lesson or lecture preparation.
There is an impressive bibliography, but why do academics insist on having copious footnotes, which could be included within the main text to make it more easily readable?
Reviewed by Alan Rashleigh