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Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today

by John R. W. Stott

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1,41959,698 (4.1)5
In his preface to this major study on preaching by John Stott, Michael Green writes, "Much of the current uncertainty about the gospel and the mission of the church must be due to a generation of preachers which has lost confidence in the Word of God." Perhaps no one is more eminently qualified to address this concern than John Stott whose scholarship and personality have shown generations of believers that he has total confidence in the Word of God and in preaching. "I believe that nothing is better calculated to restore health and vitality to the Church or to its members into maturity in Christ" reflects Stott, "than a recovery of true, biblical, contemporary preaching." His book provides precisely those practical guidelines and experienced perspectives needed for such a recovery. After beginning with a historical sketch of preaching, Stott examines contemporary objections to preaching, looking in particular at the Cybernetics Revolution and the influence of television. He then moves on to the theological foundations for preaching after which he examines how preaching can serve to build bridges across chasms of political, social, and ethical controversies. His study then takes on a more practical slant as he discusses how to cultivate and overcome the obstacles to Bible study as well as how to prepare sermons. He ends with a frank yet thoughtful reflection on the preacher's responsibility to live his message through sincerity, earnestness, courage, and humility. Addressed to the head as well as to the heart, this book will encourage and challenge both ministers and laypersons to give themselves more wholeheartedly to their calling -- to make known God’s message of salvation to a world in dire need of hearing it.… (more)
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The strengths of this book are both many and varied. Stott argues that 'preaching is indispensable to Christianity' and to the health of the Christian church. As the title suggests, Stott discribes the work of the preacher as one of bridge-building. Because of the distance and the complexities of the ancient/Biblical world, carefully planned bridges must be built for God's Word to be loudly related to those in the modern world. To do this, the preacher must be a student of each of these respective worlds. It is difficult for me to imagine that one could improve upon such a comprehensive treatment to the nature of the task of Christian preaching in few pages that Stott did. With hundreds of assorted quotes, Stott brings a remarkably wide range of reading to the table. Though the author made apology for the inclusion of so many quotes in the introduction (p 10) bibliophiles like me will ooze with envy and delight in the breadth of his reading. Though "Between Two Worlds" was not a preaching method, it provides the reader with a variety of bits of wisdom and antidotes from several humbling decades of preaching at All Souls' Church in London. Though given only cursory treatment, the author does not fail to acknowledge the role of rhetoric and communication in preaching and argues quite practically that all sermons should have a 'single point of persuasion.' Using his broad scope of reading, Stott uses many delightful quotations from sources likely to be unfamiliar to most readers, to make numerous practical suggestions for how to craft illustrations, introductions, and conclusions. These benefits are accompanied by a warm and humble, pastoral tone that encourages aspiring and current preachers to strive for excellence in the both the pulpit and the study. For this reason, I can eagerly recommend this book to anyone who aspires to speak the Word of God to His people. ( )
  nathan.c.moore | Oct 1, 2012 |
Stott's excellent and engaging book comes to climax in chapter 4: Preaching as Bridge-Building. In it, he attempts to articulate his conviction that preaching has two aspects – the exposition of the Bible, and communication, the application of Biblical truth to today's world. His metaphor is that of building a bridge from the Bible to the modern mind through preaching. He has much wise counsel here, and concludes with this sharp bit: bridge-building preaching “will be authoritative in expounding biblical principles, but tentative in applying them to the complex issues of the day.” 178. Having previously quoted an author who describes the fourfold task of the shepherd as feeding, guiding, guarding, and healing, it is easy to correlate exposition with feeding and guiding with application. A healthy balance between the two worlds keeps the preacher faithful and relevant. ( )
  cjsdg | Oct 20, 2011 |
Utilizing “bridge-building” as his central metaphor, Stott commissions the preacher to connect the first century text with the twenty-first century audience in such a way that is faithful to the former and relevant to the latter. While Stott’s treatment is very broad (stretching from the philosophical to the practical), he provides an outstanding introduction to the rationale and task of Biblical preaching. A ( )
  bsanner | Jul 20, 2008 |
The binding was weak when I bought this book new, so I have the spine cut off and a comb inserted to make it functional and useful. Stott's wok is unmached in its usefulness and training! ( )
  temsmail | Dec 22, 2006 |
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In his preface to this major study on preaching by John Stott, Michael Green writes, "Much of the current uncertainty about the gospel and the mission of the church must be due to a generation of preachers which has lost confidence in the Word of God." Perhaps no one is more eminently qualified to address this concern than John Stott whose scholarship and personality have shown generations of believers that he has total confidence in the Word of God and in preaching. "I believe that nothing is better calculated to restore health and vitality to the Church or to its members into maturity in Christ" reflects Stott, "than a recovery of true, biblical, contemporary preaching." His book provides precisely those practical guidelines and experienced perspectives needed for such a recovery. After beginning with a historical sketch of preaching, Stott examines contemporary objections to preaching, looking in particular at the Cybernetics Revolution and the influence of television. He then moves on to the theological foundations for preaching after which he examines how preaching can serve to build bridges across chasms of political, social, and ethical controversies. His study then takes on a more practical slant as he discusses how to cultivate and overcome the obstacles to Bible study as well as how to prepare sermons. He ends with a frank yet thoughtful reflection on the preacher's responsibility to live his message through sincerity, earnestness, courage, and humility. Addressed to the head as well as to the heart, this book will encourage and challenge both ministers and laypersons to give themselves more wholeheartedly to their calling -- to make known God’s message of salvation to a world in dire need of hearing it.

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