Review: Preacher and Cross by Resner

resnerPreacher and Cross:
Person and Message in Theology and Rhetoric
Andre Resner, Jr.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.

Although the first two chapters of the book are very dry, one must plow through them because the rest of the book is worth it. On the issue of the first two chapters, I understand what Resner was trying to do ... paint a backdrop as to the history of how homiletics and homiletical theory arrived at where it is today.

However, I truly believe Resner could have made his historical points in a much more precise fashion. Were I not required to read this entire work, I most likely would have never made it past the first two chapters. They are simply too technical and dry.

Having stated this, Resner moves then to the preaching of Paul. His insights are enlightening as to how Paul viewed the personality of the preacher in the message of the preacher. I agree with Resner in that preaching cannot be separated from the personality, or personal character, of the preacher. No, the person of the preacher is not central to the preacher’s message; but, one must take an illustration from the very nature of inspiration here in that Scripture was not written around the writer, it was written through the writer! If Scripture was inspired through the writers, then Phillips Brooks was on to something in preaching when he defined preaching as “truth communicated through personality.”

I further agree with Resner that the message, not the hearer, must set the agenda for the preacher. This point is ever important in today’s preaching circles in that many of today’s pulpiteers are creating messages that are more focused on behavioral psychology rather than the central to the claims of Scripture.

Whether one agrees more with Barth, Buttrick, Aristotle, or any other great homiletical mind, I believe any preacher who takes preaching seriously will admit that the preacher is not central to the message but he is nevertheless some part of it. Preaching is, whether we like it or not, whether we desire it or not, truth delivered through personality.