Christotelic Preaching: A Plea for Hermeneutical Integrity and Missional Passion -- By: Daniel I. Block

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 22:3 (Fall 2018)
Article: Christotelic Preaching: A Plea for Hermeneutical Integrity and Missional Passion
Author: Daniel I. Block

Christotelic Preaching: A Plea for Hermeneutical Integrity and Missional Passion1

Daniel I. Block

Daniel I. Block is Gunther H. Knoedler Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He earned his DPhil in the School of Archaeology and Oriental Studies at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. Dr. Block has written numerous articles and books including The Book of Ezekiel, vol. 1 and 2 in the New International Commentary of the Old Testament Series (Eerdmans, 1997, 1998); Judges, Ruth (B&H, 1999); Deuteronomy in the NIV Application Commentary series (Zondervan, 2012); and For the Glory of God: A Biblical Theology of Worship (Baker Academic, 2014).


Lest readers misunderstand me in the end, my fundamental concern in conversations about preaching is that we proclaim the truth of God with integrity and with the passion of God’s own heart. How to bring these two elements together has been a personal challenge, and as I observe preaching in this country I see this is a crucial issue within evangelicalism today. On the one hand, we have preaching in which the content is true to the word of God, but the divine passion is utterly missing. Sermons are crafted as running commentaries on biblical texts or as lectures on theological topics, and often presented without passion, except perhaps to display the brilliance, wide reading, and rhetorical ingenuity of the preacher. On the

other hand, we have firebrands, whose passion ignites the emotions of the audience, but whose presentation is at best a trivial pursuit of biblical truth, and at worst an exercise in empty demagoguery.

How do we resolve this issue, and in so doing end the famine for the word of God in the land (Amos 8:11) and nourish our people with food that transforms and yields life? In my view the answer is Christotelic reading of Scripture and a Christocentric proclamation—or more accurately a Jesuscentered proclamation. This may appear to some as mere semantics, but to me there is a significant difference between Christocentric activity— whether hermeneutical or homiletical—and Jesus-centered activity.

I have been trying to teach and preach the truth of the whole Bible for more than five decades. But academically I have been primarily engaged in teaching the First Testament (my preferred designation for the Hebrew Bible—what you call something matters; ask the publishers). I grew up in a humble place, Borden, Saskatchewan, the ninth of fifteen children in a humble farm family. My parents were very godly people. I will forever h...

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