Counseling and Effective Preaching -- By: Frank C. Peters

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 126:502 (Apr 1969)
Article: Counseling and Effective Preaching
Author: Frank C. Peters

Counseling and Effective Preaching

Frank C. Peters

Evangelicals have generally placed great stress on preaching and justification for this they found in the example of Jesus Himself. It cannot be denied that preaching occupied a central place in the ministry of our Lord. Against a background where preaching and proclamation did not occupy a prominent place, Jesus “came preaching.” This task He bequeathed to His apostles who continued spreading the good news among the nations. The book of Acts gives us some cherished excerpts of apostolic preaching.

This is not a lecture on preaching. The task which I have set for myself is to relate counseling to evangelical preaching. It goes without saying that many psychologists see very little relationship between counseling and preaching except, perhaps, that some preaching gives counselors more business. However, I feel that good preaching may take business away from counselors and psychiatrists.

Preaching in order to be healing or therapeutic need not necessarily zero in on specific human problems. There is a real danger in “psychologizing” from the pulpit. Some older preachers have been accused of “eschatologizing” too much when the homiletical cupboard was bare but, I feel, some young prophets have been all too eager to exchange Matthew for Menninger and Romans for Rogers. The first task of the preacher is to bring men face to face with Jesus Christ inviting them to accept that which God through Christ has ordained for man’s salvation. Sound biblical preaching which relates the revelation of God to the exigencies of men is always hygienic.

The evangelical Christian is completely unapologetic about basing his witness not on human insight but upon revelation. The love of God is known only through the self-disclosure of God. Therefore, it would seem to me that it would be a mistake for a young preacher to become overly concerned about the relationship between psychology and the gospel. The result of such preoccupation is often one of giving psychology preeminence over the gospel and thereby implicitly or explicitly denying the authority of the biblical message. The preacher’s first concern should be that of understanding the biblical message and learning to communicate it effectively.

Let us freely admit that not all evangelical preaching is effective. Some is sheer exhibitionism. However, where biblical preaching occurs in the context of faithful pastoral care, it will alleviate much counseling or prepare the way for effective counseling.

I. A Necessary Relationship

Phillips Brooks, lecturing in Yale in 1877, suggested that the work of the preacher and the pastor really be...

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