Variety in Biblical Preaching. By Harold Freeman. Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1987. 214 pages. Hardbound.
This book meets a real need for the busy pastor of a busy church. It is easy for the preacher to fall into the habit of preaching the same kind of sermon, service after service and Sunday after Sunday. The people tend to become over-familiar with the form or structure of the sermon, and in their familiarity become bored.
This book suggests that there is a possibility for variety in sermon form and presents some possible varieties. The author does not feel that he has presented every possible innovative type of sermon, but he has presented some that will add attractiveness to the pulpit ministry. The book is based on several assumptions. One, preaching is essentially biblical in substance. Two, the preaching is or can be relevant to life. Three, preaching can be innovative and interesting.
Chapter Three is of special interest to the preacher who wishes to achieve biblical relevance in preaching. The author believes that it is possible for one to be a responsible preacher of the biblical revelation and at the same time relate his preaching to the contemporary experience. He is specific about the ways that this can be done. He suggests that you eternalize the text, asking it the question, “What in this text is always true?“; that you universalize the text answering the question, “What in this text is true for all people?”; you principilize the text, asking “Is there a principle behind the particular statement of the text?” Of the sermon, you contemporize the sermon by answering the question, “What in this text is true now?” You personalize the sermon by answering the question, “What in this text is true for you?” And, you particularize the sermon by answering the question, “How does this principle apply to particular situations now?” Out of such earnest and intense study of the text and the contemporary situation it is possible to preach a sermon that is both biblical and relevant.
The book is helpful as a “how to” book. The author in discussing the monologue sermon, the dialogical message, the narrative message, and then several other forms, makes specific suggestions about how to do each kind of message. He suggests different ways in which each message can be done in such a way that it leaves the door open for a world of creativity in the development of sermons.
This book is needed by the busy pastor. He needs to vitalize his preaching by different approaches in his method of preaching. He will preach the same eternal message that he has always preached but he will couch the message in different forms in such a way as to speak interestingly to the contemporary situation.