Wit and Wisdom from John Hannah (12)

These are loose quotes from two of John Hannah’s lectures on (1) Edwards’ preaching and (2) Edwards’ work entitled A Treatise on Grace.  The latter was tremendously helpful to me in understanding the nature and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  But as you may suspect, not all of these quotes are just about preaching or just about the Holy Spirit.

Typical church service in Edwards’ day:  The typical service began with 45 minutes of pastoral prayer, where everyone caught up on the news, just like we do today.  The sermon would go on for an hour or two.  At the end, 15 minutes of prayer.  Then an elder would critique the sermon.  You didn’t get away with much in those days.

Goal of preaching:  You’re not stirring up a discussion.  You’re stirring up a decision.

Evaluating people:  If your perspective on people is from a distance, it will be distorted in proportion to how far away you are.

Regeneration:  Why does Edwards stress the non-gradual nature of regeneration?  Because it’s a miracle.  Edwards has ripped away man-made moralistic strivings after redemption.  There is certainly preparation, but that preparation does not account for the event of life-giving regeneration.

Uncomfortable in the world:  When God saved me, He turned a trick on me.  The world which was comfortable to me has become uncomfortable.  Because there’s a new world in my heart which is more real to me than the one in which I live.

Simple power in preaching:  Edwards learned from Locke that the mind thinks in simplicity, not complexity.  He didn’t depend on gestures.  He depended on the power of his words to form an image in the mind of his hearers.  He wanted to lead them to truth so that they could deduce it themselves and therefore own it.  The question in preaching is: How do I get them to own my idea?

Terror sermons:  “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is an example of a “Terror” sermon, though it is not Edwards’ best.  Take a look at “Torments of Hell Are Exceedingly Great.”  You don’t want to read this one at night.  Read this one on the beach in broad daylight.

Edwards’ mental power:  He’s not showing off his mind to show off.  He’s using his mind to create a response by revealing beauty.

Edwards’ preaching:  This guy could come after you, and he would never let up.  He would overload your mind with images and you would either surrender or run.

Growing up in a Christian home:  God has no grand-children.  Growing up in a Christian home may vantage you, but not redemptively.

Application in sermons:  I think that sermons today are too applicational.  They leave people out.  They’re too specific.  Allow God to apply the truth to His people.

Persuasion, manipulation, and self-authentication:  As a preacher, I struggle with the line between persuasion and manipulation.  The only way to deal with this is to talk to yourself and to ask, “What is my motivation?”  For Edwards, the issue in any motivation is always the same: motive and object.  You know when you’re trying to get results just to authenticate yourself.  I don’t need results to get affirmation as a minister.  A large church is no evidence of my godliness.  Derelicts have both small churches and large ones.

Reactionary theology:  We always frame our theology based on what we’re reacting to, and therefore it’s wrong on all sides.

Christian IQ:  Redemption doesn’t cure IQ.  Once dumb, always dumb.  That’s why we go to school — to hide it.

What people will remember:  People won’t remember what you said.  They’ll remember who you are and what you value, without you telling them.  They’ll read you like a book.  They’re smart people.

Responses to preaching:  When you throw a stick into a pack of dogs and one barks, you know which one you’ve hit.  Same is true in preaching.

Part 1 – Monday’s quotes
Part 2 – Tuesday’s quotes
Part 3 – Wednesday’s quotes
Part 4 – Thursday’s quotes
Part 5 – Friday’s quotes
Part 6 – Saturday’s quotes
Part 7 – Quotes from biographical lectures (1)
Part 8 – Quotes from biographical lectures (2)
Part 9 – Quotes from lectures on Edwards’ early writings
Part 10 – Quotes from lecture on Religious Affections
Part 11 – Quotes from lecture on Edwards’ Trinitarianism


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