Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason C. Meyer
The mantle of leadership has been passed from the steady hands of John Piper to the young preacher/scholar in Jason C. Meyer at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This new book, Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason is a winsome book devoted to the awesome task of preaching God’s word to His people. Rather than a prescript-filled resource, Jason’s main concern is to “steward and herald God’s word in such a way that people encounter God through his word” (21). The stewarding aspect of preaching is primarily about the managing of the faithful words of Scripture so that the clear truth of the word is evident as we preach and speak. Heralding concerns the tone of the preacher and his delivery even as the authority of the preacher is a derived one (23). What we find in the largest section of the book, Part II is a rendering of paradigm shifts in the ministry of the Word from Creation to Apostles, and finally the pastor. Parts III-V hint at expository preaching, systematic theology, and application. The great benefit of this book is its clear organization and razor sharp focus on the transformative nature of Scripture.
Jason brings out the supreme connection that words play in the early narrative of Genesis 1 and the covenant of creation. He writes, “The implications are already on display in Genesis 2:16. God speaks and warns that if his life-sustaining words are not followed, death in inevitable. Satan knows that if he can cut off their connection with God’s words of life, death will surely follow.” (77) We know that death wasn’t immediate for our first parents but it did come to pass. The significance that Jason brings to the surface is the dynamic between God’s words as truth and the distortion of these words leading to physical, moral, and spiritual consequences. If there can be a breach between the effect that the words from God have upon the relationship between Adam and Eve, then there can be a distrust altogether between the two parties. Jason goes onto mention that Satan’s questions were rebuffing God’s word and not necessarily his works (77).
Second, Jason moves ahead with a concept that is very important for the people in our congregations concerning calling and equipping. He writes, “Second, the calling of Moses itself stresses that God does not call Moses because of Moses’s ability. God does not call the equipped; he equips the called. He calls Moses and stresses that he, God, would enable Moses to fulfill the call.” (104). Moses was able to steward God’s law not on account of his brilliant scholarly bent in Hebrew, but because God equipped him to do the job he called him to. Jason wisely over and over again mentions that at every point in the Scriptures, the characters of the Bible steward and herald God’s word in many different ways that serve to edify, nurture, convict, and challenge people made in the image of God. Jeremiah, Moses, and many others were concerned that they were not capable of speaking God’s word to the people, but God was faithful to give them his words to speak.
Jason forcefully argues for irony beyond a mere sociological function in the Gospel of Mark with vigor and wit. He posits that ‘irony forces readers to decide if they are going to reject Jesus (as virtually everyone else in the narrative does) or affirm God’s hand behind all of the events.’ (196) From the disciples fleeing Jesus side in Mark 14:50-52 to the silence from anyone defending Jesus at his trial, the irony is apparent in Gospel account to bring readers to a dilemma. I would add that one could also see the irony forcing the readers, at least the early readers, to choose to decide if they are going to follow Rome (read political power of the day)or take their turn of the wheel of suffering and possibly persecution.
There was not much here that I didn’t agree with in the book. However, I would like to point a few areas in which I think Jason addressed minimally. Topical preaching was given a positive review for Jason but under the aim and power of expository preaching. I hope Jason would’ve addressed the appropriate distinction between topical sermons on what the Bible says on a given subject and topical sermons on a given theme, issue, or point of contact with the culture. Furthermore, I found it overwhelming at times to try to fit what the Bible says on a given topic into a slot of 25-35 minutes well. Yet, I think with a lot of practice this might work. Secondly, I think some writing on the nature of the preacher and communicating with the people would’ve been helpful. For instance, how might a expository sermon look with aim towards a more dialogical approach to the people?
I hope you get this book. This was a real winner in my book because it sang of a deep love of the Scripture and an eye towards the congregation and their reception of the word.
Thanks to Crossway Publishers for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.