[K:NWTS 2/1 (May 1987) 3-19]
Those Protestant ministers whose period of theological training fell within the past few decades and was spent at one of the larger institutions of theological instruction, probably heard lectures in a department of Biblical Theology as a part of their regular curriculum. Prior to that time professors in the older Biblical chairs of theological colleges had been lecturing on the same lines. Nevertheless, even the most devoted friend of this discipline will not attempt to deny its comparative youthfulness. In fact, its up-to-dateness is often exploited as an additional claim to superiority over other and older theological departments, notably over Dogmatics or Systematic Theology.
Under these circumstances it is probable that there are in active ministerial service today many who think of Biblical Theology as a subject on which, with all their miscellaneous reading along kindred lines, they feel a lack of that orderly comprehension and that mastery of method which are rarely attained independently of the classroom or the textbook. Of these ministers perhaps not a few feel a little distrustful of the methods they have come to associate with this discipline. And probably every reader of this Quarterly [Evangelical Quarterly] has at some time or other deplored "results" that have been urged in the name of Biblical Theology.
It is not my purpose to use any of the space allotted to me for this article in a defense of Biblical Theology, or even in a scientific statement of what it is and what are its relations to other branches of theological encyclopedia. My purpose is a brief consideration of Biblical Theology in its relation to the practical work of the minister as a student and preacher of the Scriptures. Such an attempt is not necessarily embraced within the curriculum of even the best equipped theological seminary, for it is one of those things that may fall between two departments and thus easily be missed by both. The teacher of Biblical Theology may not consider it a part of his work to point out the practical application of his subject to the everyday tasks of the minister. And the instructors whose function it is to train the preacher in his practical duties may either ignore the value of Biblical Theology or, even if they themselves appreciate it, fail to incorporate in their lectures any commendation of it or suggestions as to its use.
What is the nature of the subjects commended to the student and preacher of the Word by the phrase "Biblical Theology"?
The sort of themes which this phrase suggests may best be described as either doctrinal or ethical in subject matter, and historical in point of view. Biblical Theology combines the logical and the chronological. Like Systematic Theology it discusses the familiar loci: Theology proper, Anthropology, Soteriology, Eschatology, and the rest, each in its details and ramifications. And, like Biblical Introduction and Exegesis, or Biblical History, it gathers its material from the text of the Scriptures themselves. With Dogmatics it has in common the organization of this material according to the rubrics of a theological system, while in common with the History of Old or New Testament it arranges its material on the principle of progressive temporal development. The former may be pictured as a horizontal plane of thought, the latter as a vertical. Hence each datum of Biblical Theology lies in two planes: a horizontal cross section through it reveals its place in the whole development, through the ages of revelation, of that locus or subordinate topic to which it belongs. Like every star, every such fact has its altitude and its azimuth. Its altitude is its position when measured on the Biblical scale of progressive revelation; its azimuth is its position within the plane of revelation attained in its own day, and particularly by its own individual exponent.
Two such facts may serve as illustrations. Isaiah taught a doctrine of God that emphasizes his holiness. What is the relation of this fact to the doctrine of God taught by Isaiah's predecessors and successors? And, what is the relation of this fact to the whole body of Isaiah's teaching and to that of his contemporaries? That is a fact in the sphere of dogma; let our second illustration be in the sphere of ethics. Amos condemns the oppressiveness of the rich. What is the significance of this fact in the light of other Biblical teaching on the relation of rich and poor? And, what is the meaning of this fact in the light of Amos's doctrinal and ethical views in general, and those of his time?
The rich variety of such themes, which may center in isolated phenomena of revelation, or may embrace a broad area in their sweep, guarantees an inexhaustible fund on which the scholar may draw, while the double face of Biblical Theology lends these studies the human interest of history and at the same time the depth and scope of philosophic thought.
Now there are two distinct things to be discussed concerning these themes drawn from Biblical Theology: first, their peculiar value as a stimulus to Bible study and as a corrective to certain prevalent faults in Bible study; and, second, the place of such themes in the minister's pulpit work.
We submit then, first, the claim that the pursuit of Biblico-Theological studies will act as a stimulus to the minister in his Bible study.
Many a student of the Scriptures must have experienced at some time or other a certain feeling of dissatisfaction with the results which his labors are yielding him. This dissatisfaction is likely to be along one of two distinct lines. Either he feels as though each piece of work was detached: that while, for example, he has faithfully exegeted the third chapter of John's Gospel, he has somehow missed the force of its teaching in the whole development of the doctrine of regeneration and its relation to the "begotten of God" in John's First Epistle. Or else, he feels as though he had been pursuing some topic, such as faith, or prayer, up and down the paths of the Bible, without getting down to any appraisal of the several passages in their setting or to any grasp of their relation to one another; that with all his "prooftexts" for some particular doctrine, he lacks a just estimate of the position the doctrine holds in a balanced system of Christian truth, or even assurance that he has rightly interpreted the apparent evidence for it.
Both these kinds of difficulties lead to discouragement. They certainly ought to, even when they do not, for such discouragement is a more healthy sign than the self-complacency which is too often evident in spite of them.
Now it is precisely the aim of Biblical Theology, as we have seen, to study the temporal, individual and local in the light of that general progress which Bible doctrine exhibits–indisputably exhibits, whether men prefer to call it evolution or revelation. It results, therefore, that both those kinds of dissatisfaction can find their remedy in the pursuit of Bible study along the lines of Biblical Theology. For this shares with "topical" Bible study, so strongly urged in some quarters, the zest of personal discovery; yet without incurring the dangers which generally attend and vitiate that method, too often leaving behind it a distrust of all Bible study and a distaste for it in the minds of the unprejudiced. And on the other hand Biblical Theology shares with exegetical work the satisfaction of interpreting the very words of Scripture and thus reaching a firm basis of conviction as to God's revealed will; and this, without the intellectual dyspepsia and religious myopia that too commonly arise from such study without coordination of principle or method. There would in fact seem to be today a real call for the development, by some expert in practical theology, of a science of the pathology of Bible study, so widespread have abnormal methods become, and so disastrous their effects upon the religious views of multitudes who really want to know Bible truth and regard themselves as Bible Christians. And if such a treatise ever appears, it will in my opinion become evident that the best remedy for such pathological conditions is a liberal administration of Biblical Theology.
Thus we may claim for this discipline not only that it is able to prevent loss of interest and confidence in Bible studies, but also that it can act as a corrective to those faults into which Bible students are often led without recognizing them as faults. What are such faults?
If I mention destructive criticism first, it is not only because of the ravages that it is making among our Bible students today, but still more because this very discipline of Biblical Theology has been perverted by some, to serve the cause of an unbelieving and hostile criticism. To illustrate: the Book of Jonah, it has been urged, cannot have been written until after the Exile, because of its universalistic doctrine of God's relation to non-Jewish nations. Now whether or not Jonah is a post-Exilic production is a question of higher criticism, to be answered only after careful consideration along many lines. But to erect the universalism which it teaches into a criterion decisive of its post-Exilic origin is to pervert the testimony of Biblical Theology, because the true history of the Biblical doctrine of God's purpose of grace for mankind begins at the gates of Eden, embraces the covenant with Noah in its earliest development, and exhibits as pronounced a universalism of grace in the promise to Abraham as it does in the Book of Jonah. There is, in fact, no better corrective for slashing, reckless, subjective higher criticism, than the firm grasp of the orderly, progressive unfolding of Bible doctrine from Genesis to Revelation. The sense of movement here may fairly be said to appeal even to the esthetic faculty of the reverent student, as one marks the same "stately stepping" of our God in his acts of revelation as in his acts of redemption. Just as in redemption a thousand human leaders have conspired through the centuries, often unconsciously to themselves, to effect the divine purpose of the ages, so in revelation we behold a hundred bearers of the divine word producing and publishing the "wisdom of God unto salvation". To him who has once caught this glorious vision there can remain only disgust and disdain for the splintering methods and petty considerations of the naturalistic critic a la mode.
Again, the study of Biblical Theology is the surest means of curing infatuation with fads and catchwords. How common such infatuation is may be discovered by frequenting the ordinary Bible class in Sunday Schools, associations and conventions, and by reading the "helps" put out by some of our largest publishers by such classes. Let me illustrate again. Some years ago I remember listening to Professor George T. Purves in a series of remarkable popular expositions of selected Epistles of Paul. They were delivered to great audiences at one of our American summer assemblies, and, as is commonly the practice, questions from the audience were in order at the close of the lecture period. At the close of Dr. Purves' last hour an old minister arose to express his dissatisfaction with the lecturer's exposition of the epistles, particularly with the lecture just delivered on the Epistle to the Philippians. A lifelong student of the Word, he said, he had missed from Dr. Purves' exposition the essential point of each of the books expounded. Each of Paul's epistles was written, he went on to explain, with the purpose of glorifying some particular Christian virtue or to emphasize some one doctrine. He proceeded to mention the catchword that was the only true key to the understanding of each epistle, and declared that Philippians was the epistle of Joy: no one could interpret Philippians rightly who did not know that the words "joy", "rejoice" and the like, were used so and so many times in that epistle. He objected on this ground to Dr. Purves' characterization of Philippians as the epistle of the Christian's heavenly citizenship, and subsided only in great heat because the lecturer was not ready to admit that the note of joy, so obvious on the surface of the epistle, was also the occasion, the theme, and the purpose of its composition. This was to my mind a tragedy. This venerable lover and student of God's Word had had no appreciation of the masterly penetration of the lecturer to the very heart of Paul, nor of his analysis of the situation of the church at Philippi, nor of his grasp upon the statesmanship of that greatest of Christian leaders, simply because he could hear nothing in this epistle but "joy"–that catchword which for him must perforce be the starting point for all further study.
It is too obvious to need extended argument, that the student of Biblical Theology is led out above and beyond such prepossessions and trivialities, by being compelled to follow the traces of God's own progress in revelation, and to observe the laws according to which this progress proceeds–always in vital relation to the agents and recipients of his revelation. He therefore will see in Philippians not merely an exhortation to "rejoice always", and in the imprisoned Paul an example of how to bear affliction with joy, but beneath these surface features the marks of a great charter of Christian citizenship, called forth indeed by the situation in which the author then found himself placed and by the peculiar nature of Philippi, the Roman colony, yet developing for Christians of every age the circumstance and nature of their heavenly calling and the realization of their heavenly destiny. Only he who studies Philippians in the light of Paul's entire development of doctrine is either likely to discover that, or to approve it when it is discovered to him.
Briefly I should like to call attention also to a third fault of much present day Bible study, for which Biblical Theology is adapted to furnish a corrective. This is the fault of desultory study. No doubt there is a certain advantage in seizing the enthusiasm of the moment, when attention has been drawn to some particular theme and the delight of discovery or recognition lures the scholar on to further study along the opening path. Yet it will not do, in the long run, to depend for this enthusiasm upon the chance of the hour. How much better to uncover for oneself these fresh leads, to beat up methodically the covert that conceals so much game! Variety need not thereby be sacrificed. There is variety without end for the man who sets himself to investigate, for example, the conception of sin and grace in the Psalms, and then compare them with those of the several prophets. The Epistle to the Hebrews will open up almost the entire Old Testament, step by step, to the student who examines its attitude toward God's progressive revelation to Israel. And as each old familiar fact is looked at from this new angle, it will take on new meaning, it will fall into its true place of importance relatively to the whole, and all collectively will interpret and supplement one another in a fashion unattainable by the desultory study of Bible portions or of Bible topics.
What remains for our further consideration is an estimate of the value of Biblical Theology for the preacher. We are to consider the minister now, not as the learner at work in his study, but as the Christian teacher in his pulpit. Can we be preachers of Biblical Theology? Are our results available for use in discharging our supreme function as interpreters of the Word to the people?
Our first answer to these questions must be of a negative character: it will not do to preach just what we obtain from these studies. It is surely unnecessary to disavow any intention, in making this statement, of advocating a suppression of the truth. Neither suppression, nor perversion, nor misapplication of the teachings of Holy Scripture is ever justifiable. We are to be preachers of the whole truth, as well as of nothing but the truth.
But there is a sense quite different from this, in which the above answer is intended. The purpose in the minister's mind is not the same when he is studying his Bible as it is when he is preaching his Bible. To be sure, there is a sense in which every thought, every heartbeat, every volition of the good pastor belongs to his people. He is their willing servant for Jesus' sake. And especially is his probing of the Word of God a service in which he must do for them what they cannot or will not do for themselves. Every nugget of pure gold that he finds and carries off must be by him minted and put into circulation for the enrichment of these wards of his spirit. He is "a debtor both to the wise and to the unwise".
Yet with full consciousness of all this we can still repeat that the minister's purpose in study is not his purpose in preaching. There are doubtless many useful pastors upon whom the "homiletic habit" has so grown, that they have become incapable of hearing or reading anything without an immediate reference of it to their homiletic function. More to the point for our present thought, there are some pastors–not so useful, we fear–who have reached the stage where nothing appeals to them but what they can turn to immediate use in sermonising. In vain for them do poets sing and artists paint, orators plead and philosophers reason, if they–"can't preach that!" Worse still, they have no interest in those portions of Holy Writ which they believe they cannot turn to sermons. "What is the use of studying Ezekiel? Nobody can preach Ezekiel and hold an audience." Tell them that this same Ezekiel is a pivotal figure in the development of Old Testament doctrine, and you will arouse in them no new interest: they "can't preach Ezekiel".
It must be quite clear now that the difference of purpose in study and pulpit, of which we speak, is a difference that centers in the minister himself. The question of how far conscious self-culture, in a broad sense, is advisable as an end in itself for the Christian and particularly for the minister, is undoubtedly a debatable question. But this at least we are justified in taking for granted: that in his situation as a purveyor of divine truth to his flock, the pastor is quite as two-faced as the ancient prophet. If he is to be a mediator between God and man in any sense, he must have a face toward God and a face toward the people. The prophets clearly distinguish between themselves as recipients of divine revelation, and as deliverers of this revelation to their hearers. So too the minister. On the manward side he is the preacher, making known what he is led by the Spirit to impart to those who wait upon his ministry. But on the Godward side he is the student of the Word, eagerly drinking in all he can obtain from this fount of living waters. What he gets makes him what he is. And from it he delivers what he is impelled to give for the refreshment of God's people. "Would God all the Lord's people were prophets!"–but as long as there are "diversities of gifts" even with "the same Spirit", so long will there be need for the ministration of the spiritually cultured to the spiritually crude, the mature to the babe, the wise to the unwise.
Now the success of such ministration will depend, so far as its substance is concerned, upon the thoroughness with which the purveyor of truth fills his own barns with store of truth, and then upon the skill with which he "divides the word of truth", that "each may have his portion in due season." Of the latter condition for success we are about to speak presently; at the moment we are concerned with the first of these conditions. And our aim is to stress the value of systematic study of the Word, independent of any immediate homiletic purpose.
In spite of all that has been said and written to this same intent, how few are the ministers who are actually pursuing such study habitually and unflaggingly! It is not by chance that what comes to my mind as I write these words is the counsel of that same eminent teacher and preacher to whom I have already referred, Dr. Purves, when he used to urge his pupils in private conversation not to spend their whole week–that is, the study hours of their whole week–in the preparation of the next Sunday's sermons; but to use the entire first half of the week in Bible study quite unhampered by pursuit of material for the approaching Sabbath. From the store so obtained and constantly swelled by fresh accretion, he assured his young auditors out of his own successful experience, there would issue ever fresh themes, together with the breadth of view and the wealth of material to handle them with power and profit. The man who gave that counsel was one whose sermons have been described as "didactic orations of which the substance was yielded by studies in Biblical Theology". Yet this same man was so far from merely rehearsing in the pulpit what he had gathered in the study, that his biographer says of him that "only the most reflecting of his hearers quite realized that they were being carefully 'indoctrinated' as they were being powerfully aroused to religious emotion and action."
The caution voiced in this first and negative answer to our question is the more necessary, just because of the range of studies in Biblical Theology. The scholar is required to use now the telescope and now the microscope, as he gathers and compares his facts. There is nicety of detail work, and there is a sweep from eternity to eternity.
All this is full of promise to the preacher, but woe to the preacher who tries to realise on this promise without paying the premium! As hard work and as sound judgment are necessary in adapting his results to the pulpit as in obtaining them for himself. It is for this reason that we give as our second answer to the question, Can we be preachers of Biblical Theology?–yes, if we mould the results of our studies in accordance with certain considerations. And although these considerations apply to all homiletic material, that apply with such peculiar force to the preaching of Biblico-theological material, that they deserve separate mention here.
The first thing to be considered is the capacity of the hearer. And let me call attention at once to the fact that this is not the same as the culture of the hearer. Both individuals and congregations differ in culture and differ in capacity; but the two scales of difference by no means coincide. It is a truism of Homiletics that the "full age" which is able to bear "strong meat" is a maturity reached not through books and classes, curricula and commencements, but through a tuition in which the Spirit of God is the Teacher and the Word of God is the staple. Many a humble attendant upon divine worship Sabbath by Sabbath is better able to grasp and appreciate the "deep things of God" than those who are far more gifted with the graces of manner and attainments of learning that make up what we commonly term "culture". And there has been many a parish in Scotland, Holland or in America, with its "sermon-tasters" and its Hiram Golfs, where the roster of church members was short and every one of them labored with the hands in field or shop or home, yet where the fruits of the minister's studies were more keenly savored than in the great city church with its shifting, heterogeneous and often shallow crowds. When therefore we speak of the "capacity" of a minister's audience, we mean by that their ability–special and acquired–to assimilate that "solid food" to which Christians are invited to advance who would "go on to perfection".
Such capacity, obviously, will vary among the members of the same congregation. Nevertheless it is the minister's duty to diagnose the state of his hearers in this respect, and so to order his preaching from week to week that all may be indoctrinated in "the first principles of Christ", and may be invited to accompany their spiritual leader as he accustoms them to higher flights in heavenly airs. If then his theme be one that deals with God's progressive revelation of himself through successive ages along some particular line–such, for example, as his beneficent purpose in trial–the minister must himself be the judge as to how far he dare presuppose in his auditors any background of knowledge of the history of God's people, or how far he must adjust his own findings to their meager acquaintance with the great stadia of revelation and redemption. But there is no need for any pastor to despair of an ultimate growth of his flock in capacity to "bear" this sort of preaching. If only there be a heart right with God, he may have the joy of seeing it expand with the larger views of divine truth he affords it, and its appetite "grow with that it feeds upon", until by God's grace he has developed a congregation of Bible lovers, who will never again be satisfied with the bran and husks that may once have been their weekly diet. But the success of such a campaign of education depends, under God, upon the minister's skill in judging the current state of his people's capacity, and in moulding his Biblical material to suit it.
The second thing he must consider in so moulding the results of his own studies, is the need of his auditors.
Here above all is the point of intersection of the minister's pastoral and preaching duties. Through his intimate personal intercourse with his people he has to discover just those phases of Christian doctrine and morals which need most emphasis at the moment. But if this is true of all homiletic material, such judgment of values is especially necessary in preaching the history of revelation. There are questions of the day (made such, perhaps, through the latest popular novel, or the inroads of some religious sect) that call for treatment from the pulpit, thorough, convincing, reasoned through by the speaker with his hearers, and that can be lifted above the petty plane of present and local conditions in no way better than by an appeal to history, to the canonical documents of the faith. For example, what better antidote for the poison of Eddyism [Christian Science], should the pastor's diagnosis reveal the fact that the need of the hour is to counteract its virus among his people, than to show them God's ever broadening and ever deepening revelation of sin and guilt and of the divine means of atonement therefor, pursued through Old and New Testaments in a series of sermons that need not at all be advertised as such but that must inevitably have a collective and cumulative effect?
When the results of the studies we are advocating are to be carried into the pulpit, there is yet one more consideration that should guide the minister in the selection and use of them. May one venture, without too much risk of being misunderstood, to call this, his own sympathy with his results? I am aware that we are treading on dangerous ground here. We have already had occasion to disclaim any approval or advocacy of a suppression of the truth. And there seems to lie in the dictum, Preach that with which you are in sympathy, an implication that the text of preachable truth lies in the soul of the preacher and not in the objective revelation of the Word. Is not this an abandonment of the basic principle of the Reformed Theology for Quakerism or some other phase of religious subjectivism?
By no means. For surely this is no negligible distinction: the distinction between preachable truth in general, and truth that should be preached by just this man at this time. The most zealous advocate of the Scriptures as the seat of authority in religion ought not to object to the simple proposition, that for its maximum effect the preached Word requires as the medium of its communication not only a mind to understand, but also a heart that loves, and a will to propagate, the truth proclaimed. There is no question of authority here. It is a question of the sanctified personality, aglow with the enthusiasm of faith and love, that has been ordained of God as the regular and ordinary means of propagating his gospel. Is that sort of an agent at the disposal of the divine Spirit, if the agent, for whatever reason, lacks the requisite light and heat? I do not here deny those extraordinary operations of the Spirit, wherein he has at times used unregenerate and even wicked men as the vehicles of his saving truth. This he can do, for he has done it. But I am simply allowing for that imperfection–culpable, no doubt, in every instance, though in varying degrees–with which all God's messengers perform their task. We who are ministers should be the last to deny or minimize this culpable imperfection, for we who say, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel!", cry also, "Who is sufficient for these things?" and, with a more profound abasement, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips".
Now one of the most obvious forms which this imperfection takes is a onesidedness in our comprehension of the truth and sympathy with it, and another is a transitoriness of zeal for even the portions of the truth we have mastered and embraced. In the light of this reprehensible but indisputable fact, are we not justified in saying that, whatever might be true of the ideal prophet of God, it is the duty of the preacher, being what he is, first to prevent his people, as far as possible, from suffering through the shortcomings that make him what he at present is, and, second, to strive to make good those shortcomings as he may? With this second duty we have no concern at present: that belongs to the study and the prayer closet. But with the former we are concerned. How can the preacher best prevent his people from suffering through his own realized imperfections as a medium of communication between God and his church?
Will it do to answer, Let him go on and preach the Word indiscriminately, without regard to his own faulty apprehension and appreciation of its truths, striving to feign a zeal he feels not, and to transfer the tones of a convinced mind and the accents of an ardent heart from the doctrines that are inexpressibly dear to him to themes that have no grip upon his spirit? There are, of course, any number of possible situations conceivable, as soon as one launches out upon the sea of casuistry. But the principle, at least, may safely be enunciated, that the best way to safeguard the people from the preacher's prophetic shortcomings is for him to preach that with which he is in sympathy. What this truth shall be, must be bounded by that which alone he is commissioned to preach–God's revealed Word. But within these vast limits, let his preaching on this day, and the next, and any given day be determined (as one of its principles of determination) by what he then and there holds in solution in a mind clarified by study and heated by the flame of reverent enthusiasm. And even if he cannot, like the Apostle at Miletus, claim within the space of "three years" to have declared to his people "the whole counsel of God", at least he will resemble Paul in having declared what he did declare "with tears"–or their modern and occidental emotional equivalent!
For such preaching Biblical Theology affords incomparably greater promise than, say, a chapter-by-chapter exposition of Jeremiah or of Romans. As the minister in his study pursues the unfolding of the mind of God through his successive agents of revelation, and thus attains an ever broadening and deepening grasp upon divine truth, he ought to find that his attitude toward this entire body of doctrine is both progressively sympathetic, and sympathetic with an ever growing pervasiveness and thoroughness of detail. As his life's ministry advances, one of the joys of its fruition should be an ever decreasing embarrassment about this question of sympathy. If it prove contrary, let him examine himself, and mistrust that something somewhere is radically wrong. But as long as he "has not yet attained, neither is already perfect", it is clear that the preacher ought to name, on the list of considerations that govern his dispensation of the truth to his people, this consideration: am I myself in such a state of preparedness of heart, that I am able "to make manifest the mystery of Christ as I ought to speak"?
In the prayers that Paul tells his Christian converts they should offer up for him and for all who preach the Word, there is a high significance, which I fear is often missed, in the climacteric order in which those three petitions are arranged that are put into the mouth of the praying church, Colossians 4:34. The church is to pray, first, for "an open door for the Word", so that it may have free entrance to men's hearts; second, for the faithfulness of the messengers to their message, "the mystery of Christ"; and, thirdly (yet not as an anti-climax following its supreme concern for what is to be preached, but as a true climax, which infinitely exalts for all time the homiletic art), the church is to pray that these messengers may make their message known "as they ought to speak it".
In that little word "as"–in the manner of delivery of the message–how much is included!–all that enters into the effect produced upon the hearer, which is not due to the bare facts rehearsed. The circumstance that God has ordained preaching to be the chief means of propagating his gospel, already sufficiently indicates the high value he sets upon the accompaniments of the gospel in its impact on the human soul. Saving truth, when seen glowing in the transformed life of a Christian personality, illustrates at once its own meaning and its own power. All the sentiment that breathes in the spiritual friendship of a new convert for the teacher who has shown him Christ; all the imitation, conscious or unconscious, whereby the younger and weaker believer is moulded after the likeness of his Christian exemplar; all the force of conviction that arises through seeing salvation wrought out in a renewed person–all these moments enter into that complex effect which the preached Word makes upon men's souls. And all these moments belong to the "how to speak" of Christian Homiletics.
With the above considerations governing his preaching from week to week and year to year, the Christian minister may pursue these studies in the history of revelation, or Biblical Theology, which we have advocated, assured that there is no other study in which he can engage that will so well repay his labors, either by bringing him into sympathetic understanding of revealed truth, or by supplying him with interesting, vital and coordinated material for the indoctrination and edification of his people.
Originally published in The Evangelical Quarterly 2 (January 1930):
70-84 and reprinted here with the kind permission of
The Paternoster Press, Exeter, England.