Preaching should include doctrine, spur right living, Southern prof says

Communications Staff — March 9, 2004

Preaching should be both doctrinal and expository and must explain how a believer is to live in light of biblical truth, a professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said during a recent address.

Gregg Allison, associate professor of Christian Theology, said doctrinal preaching is all but lost in a modern-day church that is more often driven by an entertainment culture than a commitment to expounding the truths of Scripture. Allison addressed the James P. Boyce Society, a student organization at Southern Seminary, on the topic of doctrinal preaching.

“There are many reasons for this (loss of solid doctrinal preaching): the entertainment industry and its influence on the church, our therapeutic culture, our pragmatism have all conspired together to undermine our doctrinal preaching and orientation…We have a situation in which our culture, including our church world, is doctrinally lite.”

Scripture itself argues for the necessity of doctrinal preaching, Allison said. In the pastoral epistles, Paul admonishes Timothy and Titus to be faithful in teaching sound doctrine. Allison said ministerial students must realize that one of their main concerns is to follow Paul’s words and teach biblical doctrine from the pulpit.

“Sound doctrine is a keystone of a healthy church,” he said. “One of the marks of the true church must be sound doctrine. This is particularly important for you as current and future leaders of the church because church leaders must be about the business of sound doctrine…If you are going to be qualified for the office of elder, you must, as the overseer or bishop or elder, you must be able to teach this sound doctrine.”

“We teach sound doctrine [to] encourage people and then we also must be able to refute false doctrine when it appears in our churches.”

Allison proposed what he termed “expository-doctrinal preaching” that addresses a doctrine by summarizing systematically the relevant texts of Scripture and bringing them to bear on the question “What are we to believe, do, and be today with regard to [this] doctrine?”

Doctrinal sermons should integrate biblical, systematic and exegetical theology, while considering church history and philosophy as it relates to the doctrine being expounded. Such sermons must also show the difference the doctrine is to make in believer’s lives, he said.

Allison pointed out that doctrinal preaching is not to be substituted for the verse-by-verse teaching and preaching of Scripture that should be the staple of every pastor’s preaching fare week in and week out. Doctrinal-expository preaching should supplement it, he said.

In addition to preaching and teaching doctrine during the Sunday morning sermon each week, the pastor should seek other opportunities to teach it, Allison said. Allison recommended that ministers teach doctrine in Sunday evening sermons, Sunday school classes, Wednesday night and small-group Bible studies.

Allison said expository-doctrinal preaching should have three effects on individual congregation members: It should create sound belief and thinking in them, it should form godly practice in them that goes beyond mere external conformity, and it should built in them a character of impassioned integrity.

“This is not only about thinking rightly and acting correctly, but the believer’s passions and affections should be turned toward seeing the supremacy of Christ,” he said. “When this happens, I have made this particular doctrine my own.”

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