Preaching for the Church

Jesse Northcutt  |  Southwestern Journal of Theology Vol. 2 - Spring 1960

Preaching for the Church. By Richard R. Caemmerer. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959. 353 pages. $4.50.  

There are few creative and fresh approaches to homiletics. Consequently it is a rare occurrence when a book on homiletics is published makes a new contribution to the field. Preaching for the Church by Dr. Richard R. Caemmerer is such a book.  

Christian preaching is related by the author to ه definitely stated theological principle: “preaching is Cod’s word in Christ to people.” It is the intention of the author that the connection between preaching and this basic theological principle should not be lost sight of. He does a remarkably consistent job of adhering to his basic theological principle.  

In the succeeding sections of the hook Dr. Caemmerer discusses: Preaching and God, Preaching and People, Types of Sermons, preparing the Textual Sermon, Delivering the Sermon, The Topical Sermon, Sermons in Courses, Accents in Preaching, Routines of Preaching, Self-Criticism, Growing as a Preacher, and Preaching and the Ministry.  

The book has at the end some suggestions for further reading and appendices dealing with such subjects as Planning and Preparing toe Textual Sermon, Service Themes for the Christian Year, Biblical Modes of Depicting the Atonement, A Chart for the Critique of a Recorded Sermon. This is all very helpful supplementary material.  

Preaching, so Dr. Caemmerer says, (1) describes God’s goals, (2) alerts to God’s judgment, and (3) speaks God’s gospel. Thus, preaching is directed (1) toward a goal, (2) from a malady, (3) through the word of the cross. This is true not only of preaching generally but of each sermon. This helps to determine the true content of preaching and also the approach to the people 

In his section on types of sermons he classifies them generally as sermons preached in worship and preaching outside of worship. This may be a rather unfortunate division. It results in Dr. Caemmerer’s discussion of evangelistic preaching as that which is done outside of worship. Consequently he appears to define evangelistic preaching as done mainly by radio or through evangelistic enterprises. Perhaps it may be said to his credit that he so defines the content of preaching, “the preaching of the cross” that even that done in worship will be good evangelistic preaching.  

His distinction between textual and topical sermons is not the usual distinction made between the two. The sermon is textual or topical depending on whether or not toe sermon began in the preacher’s mind with a topic or whether it began with a text. His stages in the preparation of a textual sermon are very significant. 1. Getting the meaning of the text. 2. Planning the persuasion. 3. Outlining the material. 4. The working brief. 5. The first draft. 6. Rework. This section of the book is worthy of very serious study by every preacher.  

This book has one or two slight limitations. It may be too long for popular reading. In its multiplicity of “chapters” it is possible for the reader to lose his sense of the relationship of ideas. Dr. Caemmerer speaks out of a distinctly Lutheran context. In some instances this colors what is said and toe manner of his discussion. We would not ask him to do otherwise, but readers of other faiths will occasionally find the atmosphere and language a little strange.  

The book however has particular strengths. The author’s theological convictions are apparent and affect his conception and discussion of preaching. This is good, particularly in view of the conservative quality of these convictions. The approach to preaching is new and different. This gives to the book a freshness and vitality often lacking in books on homiletics. There are many useful and practical suggestions that will be a particular help to toe preacher in his preparation of sermons. The style is clear, interesting and very readable. The book is worthy of careful reading by every preacher.  

Category: Journal Article

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