“Preaching” is a book written by Timothy Keller with the intention of helping to demystify the art of preaching. The book is loaded with information that could be helpful to the seasoned minster. However it’s not for everyone. His writing and ideas may not be accessible to those new to preaching.
Timothy Keller is an erudite man and a well-known voice in Protestant Christianity. He is also an astute cultural critic of the intersections between post-modern morality and the West’s Christian lineage. Keller spends time unwinding our cultural conceits and shows ways that a preacher can subtly push back against secular modern messaging—helping the hearer to make room so that the gospel message can find a foothold. This is an interesting concept: a pastor can sprinkle his sermon with statements and arguments designed to make the secularist in the audience rethink their atheism or cultural relativism.
One of the things that Keller emphasizes is the need for every sermon: regardless of Biblical narrative- to circle back around to the gospel story (the death, burial and resurrection of Christ) before the close of the sermon. For example– if the purpose of the sermon is on the promise made to Abraham, the sermon can arrive at the endpoint by saying that Christ made the ultimate promise.
Keller urges preachers to be authentic, and to beware of “gatekeeping”—using language that reaffirms faithful believers but that does not engage the concerns of others (such as visitors, skeptics, etc.)
Those interested in the history of preaching and the development of its methodology will find more to read in the detailed notes section (68 pages) at the end of the book. I particularly found interesting how Keller asserts that early preachers used expository preaching (a practice that came from Judaism) while later preachers were influenced by classical rhetoric. Also useful is Keller’s step-by-step process of finding exegesis in a text in preparation for expository preaching.
There’s a lot here to utilize but also a lot to reject. There are Apostolic distinctives to preaching such as the anointing, the gifts of the Spirit and the leading of the Holy Ghost. Keller is Presbyterian and (presumably) does not believe in these the way Pentecostals do. His theology is not Apostolic. Also many preachers lean into their “own style” of what works for them in the pulpit and so the advice contained in the book may not be equally applicable to every minister.
(I give the book two stars out of five.)