Review: Preach the Word, edited by Leland Ryken & Todd Wilson

Subtitle: Essays on Expository Preaching in Honor of R. Kent Hughes (2007)

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Kent Hughes is a name I have been aware of for many years, but honestly I have never heard him preach or read any of his books.  Still, this book of essays written in his honor caught my attention.  Collections of essays in honor of individuals of spiritual stature range in quality from excellent to extremely ordinary.  Sometimes their quality of production falls far short of the person’s life and ministry they are intended to honor.  Not so in this case.  This book is a quality production from Crossway and a decent collection of essays from an impressive list of contributors.  This book is worthy of our attention.

Divided into four parts, the book contains sixteen essays, culminating in a gracious and encouraging biographical essay on the life and influence of Kent Hughes.  By the end of this book, you will have greater motivation to pursue the exposition of God’s Word, and a greater passion to expand that ministry by influencing the next generation.  Not a bad legacy to honor Kent Hughes’ ministry.

The first part is concerned with Interpretive Principles and Practices.  The book begins with a call to expository preaching from David Jackman.  John MacArthur offers a sound although very basic introduction to inductive Bible study.  Paul House considers the preaching of Old Testament narratives with a focus on three sermons from Acts.  Wayne Grudem offers a helpful chapter on rightly interpreting the Bible.  The only chapter to surpass Grudem’s contribution in this section is the excellent offering on “The Bible as Literaure and Expository Preaching” by co-editor, Leland Ryken.

The second part focuses on Biblical and Historical Paradigms.  Bruce Winter helpfully considers Paul’s approach to warfare in reference to the thought processes of his listeners – how to preach to minds not fully renewed.  Duane Litfin’s chapter on Paul’s kerygma foolishness in 1Cor.1-4 is superb.  In my notes I remarked the book was worth the price for this chapter alone.  Wallace Benn moves the book into church history with a straightforward summary of Richard Baxter’s classic, The Reformed Pastor. J.I.Packer then adds another heavyweight and inspiring article (in power, not in density), a delight of a chapter on Charles Simeon.

The third part concerns Contemporary Challenges and Aims.  Here you find Phillip Jensen and D.A.Carson’s more engaging lecture on contemporary challenges in ministry.  Philip Ryken then offers a very good call for expository preaching that is evangelistic, doctrinal and practical.

The fourth and final part focuses on Training and Example.  Peter Jensen considers the seminary setting, where he rightly wishes that expository preaching were the primary goal of the entire faculty.  Jon Dennis offers a detailed list of eight principles for multiplying ministers from 2Tim.2:2 and its surrounding context.  David Helm brings in British church history again, in an engaging article that looks for a generation of preachers to be trained.

This is a solid book, well worth buying and reading.  The essays are all decent and worthy of their place, although it must be recognized that the offerings of Leland Ryken, Duane Litfin and J.I Packer (perhaps with David Helm’s historically birthed effort attached to Packer’s consideration of Simeon) – these stand out as especially worthy of note and worth the price of the book!

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2 thoughts on “Review: Preach the Word, edited by Leland Ryken & Todd Wilson

  1. I have just finished reading the first part (first 5 chapters). Ryken’s essay is indeed the best in this section. Its the only thing I’m rereading.

    I hope to be back here after reading the second part. But it may take a while. I’m a slow reader.

  2. I am still in part 1 of this book and frankly, what got my attention right away was the importance that preaching and teaching is given.

    Here is a sample of what has caught my attention for the rest of the entire book:

    “The Pulpit Leads the World

    These are tumultous and indeed unsettling times. As the rising tide of post-Christian secularism threatens to capsize the evangelical church and as many foul breezes rip across her deck, it is the pulpit that should be out in front, leading, navigating, warning of danger, signaling hope. Regrettably, however, it is the pulpit that is all too often relegated to the rear, pastors choosign instead to lead with all the rest. As a result, many churches are left adrift in a sea of moral and theological confusion, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Furthermore, as the pulpit recedes from the prow of many ministries, the church of Jesus Christ forfeits her divinely appointed means of brining sinners to the Savior–and the world suffers.”

    That was from the introduction and the introduction ends with one of the famous five solas “Soli Deo Gloria!”

    AMEN! For me, that excerpt caught the whole problem of the Church today. Modernism, humanism, and secularism creeping in even through the brethren. Here’s another excerpt that caught my attention:

    “The hostility ofthe culture has always been a “given,” but the skepticism and rejection of sound biblical teaching at the heart of the local church’s life of minitry–from within the conregation itself–is perhaps a defninig aspect of the current crisis. It is, of course, evidence of the world’s waves swamping and threatening the very viability of the church’s boat. A worldly church is always going to reject the clarity of biblical revelation. such people “will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim.4:3-4)”

    I could go on but the reason why I put these excerpts is because they catch the core of the Church crisis today, and the need for the rise of more teachers and preachers to “make the pulpit the prow of their ministries” and therefore lead the church in all sound doctrine and fortifying knowledge which the congregation can not only learn, but apply in their ministries and lives and therefore create new and more generations hungry and thirsty for the truth and the truth alone.

    I strongly recommend this book, which I have barely begun to read, to not only aspiring pastors and teachers, but to any Christian out there seeking to be aware of the crisis today and be a loyal subject of the truth of God.

    SOLI DEO GLORIA!

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