I like this term, “smooth preaching.” I was just reading about it and resonating with the thought. Peter Jensen uses the term in his chapter on the role of the seminary in the training of the preacher. (Preach the Word, p216.) He writes, “There is a variety of smooth preaching that replicates what it sees as the main theme of a text but does not bring to the surface anything in the text that surprises, contradicts, creates tension.” It is the kind of preaching that rushes too easily to conclusions or fails to spot the points of stress in a text. It is dull preaching that dulls the Word of God.
I suppose some might wish that someone would publish a book, perhaps a New International Textual Stress Points Commentary, or a Passage-By-Passage Jagged Edge Guide. But in reality, there is simple no better way to avoid such smooth preaching than this – spend significant time dwelling in a text, wrestling with the text, allowing the text to wrestle with you, opening your own heart to the text, leaning so close to it that it can draw blood. Close and personal encounters with God’s Word will bring the Bible into real conflict with sin in our lives. It will expose and challenge our pride, anger, doubts, motivations, attitudes, habits, tendencies. If we keep texts at arms length, then we will preach smooth sermons. If we handle texts only briefly before preaching the obvious, then we will preach smooth sermons. If we really prayerfully vulnerably wrestle with a text, and lose, then we will be in a better position to preach sermons with the textual edge bared to make its mark. The Word of God does cut, but smooth preaching will only conceal that edge. Smooth preaching doesn’t mark.