Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson
Trying to identify one book on preaching every preacher should own is a nearly impossible task – it is a bit like asking you to decide which sunset is most beautiful or which gospel is more valuable.
Nevertheless, if I am forced to choose one book, I turn to one that I require in each basic preaching class I teach: Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson, now in its third edition. I don’t believe any single text has had more influence in shaping the evangelical pulpit over my lifetime in preaching. In many ways, Robinson’s classic volume stepped into the role played for the prior century by John A. Broadus’ classic book On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons.
In fact, in 2010 when we listed the 25 books which have most influenced preaching over the past quarter-century, Biblical Preaching stood atop the list. At that time we observed: “This book stands apart from all the others in terms of recognition by those who study preaching—by far it received the most nominations from pastors and professors. The book was originally published in 1980, 30 years ago, but has dominated the classrooms of evangelical colleges and seminaries in the past 25 years. A revised second edition was published in 2001, guaranteeing that succeeding generations of young preachers would benefit from this outstanding introduction to the task of preparing and presenting biblical sermons.”
Biblical Preaching is the most frequently required textbook used in preaching classes in evangelical colleges and seminaries, and there is a reason: Robinson offers a clear understanding of the nature and value of expository preaching, and provides a step-by-step guide to developing such messages.
One of the most valuable gifts Robinson provides is his definition of expository preaching: “Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through the preacher, applies to the hearers.” In an era when many preachers consider themselves expositors despite a conspicuous absence of attention to the biblical text, Robinson’s definition should be engraved on a brass plaque and placed prominently above the desk in every pastor’s study in America!
The other significant gift Biblical Preaching provides his fellow preachers is the notion of the “Big Idea” of the sermon. The concept of a central idea or proposition for the sermon is not new, but Robinson’s clear and compelling presentation of this approach has given contemporary preachers a tool to help them preach strong, relevant biblical sermons which are true to the text and effectively engage the listener.
Haddon Robinson is now retired from his teaching role at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Through his work at Gordon-Conwell, Denver Seminary and Dallas Seminary, he has taught generations of pastors and teachers, who are helping to shape the evangelical pulpit of today. Every evangelical preacher owes him a debt of gratitude – and not least because of his book Biblical Preaching. It serves a place on the bookshelf of every preacher.
Michael Duduit is founder and editor of Preaching magazine, and founding Dean of the Clamp Divinity School and College of Christian Studies at Anderson University in Anderson, SC.