The Imperative Of Preaching: A Theology Of Sacred Rhetoric -- By: John Carrick

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 001:2 (Jul 2004)
Article: The Imperative Of Preaching: A Theology Of Sacred Rhetoric
Author: John Carrick

The Imperative Of Preaching: A Theology Of Sacred Rhetoric

John Carrick

(Edinburgh, UK: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002),
reviewed by Earl M. Blackburn1

Preaching the Holy Scriptures is a most wonderful but difficult task. It is primarily the work of one who is divinely called of God and ordained and installed into the office of minister or pastor by the church. It is wonderful in that it is the work of proclaiming to fallen creatures the wonderful works of the triune God and how to be right with Him. It is difficult in that, of all the callings God has given to men, it is the most arduous. Why? Because it requires exactness, precision, and the complete giving of oneself physically, mentally, psychologically, and emotionally, if one is to be faithful. The toll preaching exacts from a man, not counting the long hours of preparation preceding the event and the drained effect after the event, can be quite high. It is not without reason that ministers (i.e., preachers) are considered one of the highest risks by insurance companies today and why most ministers take Mondays as their rest day off.

In the postmodern days of movies, multimedia presentations, cantatas, drama, skits, and other manmade insertions into the worship of God, preaching has fallen upon hard times. There are those pundits who deride preaching (i.e., rhetoric) and say that it has outlived its usefulness. John Carrick argues the imperative of preaching. He points out in his Introduction, which is actually chapter one, that during the Middle Ages “rhetoric constituted, together with grammar and logic, the so-called trivium and was thus also one of the seven liberal arts” (2), pointing out “.. .it is clearly the preacher’s duty to persuade men concerning the truth of Christianity” (3).

Not only does he argue with those who would do away with preaching, he interacts with those who have abused it in one form or another. He counters that “the abuse of a thing does not invalidate the proper use of it” (Abusus non tollit usum) (4). Carrick’s central thesis of the book is that the indispensable pattern which God has utilized in the proclamation of New Testament Christianity is the indicative-imperative method of preaching. To drive home this theme, the author seeks to do four things: 1) to define the four categories of preaching (i.e., indicative, exclamative, interrogative, imperative); 2) to illustrate and exemplify them from the Scriptures; 3) to illustrate and exemplify the exclamative, the interrogative, and the imperative from the sermons of “five of the most outstanding preachers” in the history of the church; 4) to consider the significanc...

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