So a lot of people endorse Haddon Robinson’s Biblical Preaching but seem to miss the prize jewel in the book – the Big Idea. They may use the language, but many miss the point. We’ve thought about the Big Idea in terms of communication, and in terms of biblical studies. One more:
The Big Idea in terms of the Holy Spirit – Just as part 2 overcame an objection to part 1, so again does part 3 for parts 1 and 2 (that’s a level of confusion not befitting a series of posts on Haddon Robinson’s teaching!) The Biblical studies post clarified why this approach is not some sort of communications theory imposition on the text. Likewise, I want to point out that the role of the Spirit keeps this from being some sort of forced approach to the preparation and delivery of sermons. Robinson’s definition of expository preaching not only clarifies the hermeneutical approach that the preacher uses in both preparation and delivery, it also points to the role of the Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that takes and applies the central concept in the biblical passage, “first to the preacher, then through the preacher, to the listeners.” This is not a mechanical approach that guarantees cookie-cutter sermons when the process is rightly applied. Robinson points out in words what is obvious in his ministry – this is a God thing. The preacher studies the text as a believer in God, prayerfully open to the work of the Spirit in his or her life, responding in application first, before looking to God to enable others to benefit as the passage is preached through him.
Again, I’ve heard some refer to the rigidity of Robinson’s approach – a critique of professionalised mechanisation of preaching. Nothing could be further from the truth. Robinson teaches an almost no-rules approach, an approach that is free of formulaic expectation, but full of faithful expectation that God has communicated and does communicate through His Word. It is God’s ability as a communicator that drives the Big Idea preacher to study the text, respond to it and preach it to others. No need to add a standard sermon form. No need to make it my clever message based on the dry ingredients of the text. No need to “make it relevant.” No, it is God’s nature as a highly effective communicator that should stir us to seek to be the best communicators we can be – which will nudge us toward a Big Idea approach to preaching, since all effective communication is Big Idea by design. God’s design in inspiration. Man’s design in authoring. Our pursuit in preaching.