New book on Calvin: The preacher
I am well aware that Calvin was not perfect but I find criticisms of his preaching style to be misleading. If you read Calvin’s sermons you will see that he is a very clear, powerful and persuasive preacher. In Lectures on the History of Preaching, John Broadus writes that Calvin’s preaching was “practically destitute of imagination” (p. 119). What?! These types of statements have historically cast Calvin’s preaching in a negative light and (in my opinion) makes him one of the most under-appreciated preachers in church history.
So I’m excited to see that Steven Lawson is coming to a defense of Calvin the preacher. In Lawson’s new book he writes,
“Although some think of him as stiff and awkward in his pulpit ministry, [are you ready for this?] Calvin was well-equipped in the creative aspects of effective communication. Although he was certainly not a great orator, he was more than just a skilled exegete. Standing in the pulpit with an open Bible, Calvin skillfully painted with many bold brushstrokes of colorful human language. The resplendent hues of effective communication were on his preaching palette, ready for his use. At his disposal was an array of vivid figures of speech, rhetorical questions, biting sarcasm, compelling language, colloquial expressions, and the like. Such are the tools of the art of vivid preaching, and their effective use often separates mediocre exposition from good and even great pulpit work.”
– Steven Lawson, The Expository Genius of John Calvin (Reformation Trust) pp. 84-85. [Note: The anticlimactic emphasis is mine, as is the bold lettering and special emphasis where both bold and italic are use on the word “creative.”]
The Expository Genius of John Calvin will be published in March by Reformation Trust (Ligonier). Preachers will find Lawson’s principles on exegesis and homiletics very helpful. Thank you Dr. Lawson for this encouraging (and history-straightening) book!
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