Pulpit preaching, Peter the Apostle, and modern day sermonizing. What is the rub?
Previously, I have been writing on the issues related to prepared sermons and whether or not you can justify modern day pulpit preaching by examining the messages delivered by Peter in the book of Acts. Several of the issues that arise when such a comparison takes place are the validity of preparation, systematic exposition, employed rhetoric, and a professional delivery to a captive and willing audience.
In part one of the series we evaluated the original presentation of the dilemma. I asked if Peter was preaching or sermonizing in the book of Acts. The post responds to the assertion that today’s sermon is an extended lecture on a biblical text or theme, prepared in advance, and delivered orally to a group. My premise and burden were based on the ideal that the biblical data refutes this position and provides better evidence for an extemporaneous form. It was also my conclusion that New Testament preaching is not equivalent to 21st Century sermonizing, although the definition itself has become blended, the bible does not support this.
In part two of the series I argue that Peter’s message was indeed prepared, but not in the form of that one would for a contemporary sermon. Today pastors and lay persons alike can spend forty plus hours preparing for a forty-five minute lecture on Sunday mornings. The result is a demonstration of the orators experience and time with the Holy Spirit. This method seems impractical. The conclusion of this post demonstrates that Peter’s preparation was in obedience to Christ and his ability to articulate this vocally was through sight and physical experience. Peter walked with Christ, professed the Christ, and pronounced the Christ. It
In part three of the series the systematic nature of Peter’s message is revealed. We learn that Peter systematically capitalized on a miracle, as performed in the name of Christ, and the reason for its validity. Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, and ascent to the right hand of the Father were all primary characteristics of Peter’s preaching in Acts. This evidence proves that Peter was not sermonizing but responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. His credibility as a witness was important and the messages he gave to the Jews and Gentiles rested on what he saw, what it meant, and how one is to respond.
Part four was a combination of two posts. The first and second entries illustrate the structure of the messages. Each message was unique in it’s own right but the comparisons showed in these post help illuminate the consistency of each message. In reality, the message Peter proclaimed was one worth dying for. Ultimately, preaching cost the apostles and many like them their lives. Relegating the proclamation of the gospel to rhetoric doesn’t bode well as something I or the early Christians would die for. The final question we should be asking ourselves after reading these posts is simple. Should we call sermon delivery preaching?
I hope this series has proved helpful for you. It is in my own study that the truth of scripture usually has more to say than what my theological construct wants it to say. The church at large has spent a large proportion of its existence forcing contemporary traditions back into an ancient text and saying, “See, that’s what we are supposed to do!” Here’s to working more diligently to foster an environment that facilitates the employment of all the saints and their gifts.
This post is part of a series.
- Peter the Pulpit Preacher: Intro – Part 1
- Peter the Pulpit Preacher: Obedience – Part 2
- Peter the Pulpit Preacher: Systematic or Consistent? – Part 3
- Peter the Pulpit Preacher: Worth dying for – Part 4a
- Peter the Pulpit Preacher: Worth dying for – Part 4b
- Peter the Pulpit Preacher: Summary and Conclusion – Part 5