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Earl Marshall

Is Preaching Application?

I have recently been thinking about the nature of preaching and in particular the preaching of various scripture genres.  I have been reading and listening to some who promote the theory that our philosophy and approach to preaching should be dictated by the literary genre of the biblical text. That when presenting biblical narrative we should present it as story and Paul’s epistles would necessarily have a different preaching style.  This would mean that there are various right ways to present scripture as there are styles of biblical literature.  Interesting that form criticism would have such far reaching impact.

If preaching, however, is primarily an act of taking the meaning, big idea of the text, and presenting this applicationally to the audience should not the listening needs of the audience be our primary concern in how we preach the meaning of the text?

If we live in a culture that best listens via story then perhaps we should be considering ways in which we can present all biblical genre as story.  It is undertandable that in a culture that needs story that bibilcal narrative would be attractive.  But instead of placing so much energy on how to present biblical narrative as story (which seems to almost be redundant now that I think of it) we should be "knocking our brains out" trying to figure out how to present the deep theology of Romans as story.  If not we are destined to raise the next generation on biblical narrative and gospel literature and the epistles will fall by the wayside. 

1 Comment

  1. Good post, Earl.
    I love what Eugene Peterson writes:
    “The biblical way is not to present us with a moral code and tell us, “Live up to this,” nor is it to set out a system of doctrine and say, ‘Think like this and you will live well.’ The biblical way is to tell a story that takes place on solid ground, is peopled with men and women that we recognize as being much like us, and then to invite us, ‘Live into this. This is what it looks like to be human. This is what is involved in entering and maturing as human beings.'”
    I think we’ve forgotten that even the epistles take place in the context of the story – both the story of the writer and original recipient, and the story of redemption.

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