A Book Review of The Preacher’s Portrait
John Stott is an Anglican Clergyman and author of The Preacher’s Portrait. This book offers a transcription of a series of 5 lectures that Dr. Stott delivered in the 1960s. Although Dr. Stott’s opinions on the roles of men and women within the church are not ideal, his views on preaching could not be better. In his five lectures, Dr. Stott analyzes five aspects of the Christian preacher as revealed in Scripture: the preacher as steward, herald, witness, father, and servant.
Dr. Stott’s exegesis of certain biblical passages is superb and well-delivered. Consider what Dr. Stott remarks of the preacher’s stewardship: “The expository preacher is a bridge builder, seeking to span the gulf between the Word of God and the mind of man. He must do his utmost to interpret the Scriptures so accurately and plainly, and to apply it so forcefully, that the truth crosses the bridge” (p. 28). I cry with Dr. Stott, “May God make us faithful stewards!” (p. 32).
Dr. Stott then concludes rightly in his final chapter that “sermons are not intended to be ‘enjoyed’. Their purpose is to give profit to the hearers, not pleasure. … A sermon is never an end in itself, but a means to an end [which is the end of] ‘saving souls’” (p. 102). That statement was applicable in the 1960s; so much more so is it applicable now! Rather than give in to the world’s demands for less-than-biblical expository preaching, the minister’s “manner must conform to his matter; he must deliver God’s Word in God’s way” (p. 119).
Nowadays, preachers are largely discouraged from taking a biblical text and explaining it verse-by-verse. There are notable exceptions to this—notably John MacArthur and Mark Dever, to name two—but by and large, biblical preaching has fallen on hard days and even harder ears. This is a large problem, and one that Dr. Mohler tackles in his book, He Is Not Silent, which will most likely be the next book I review this summer.