It is humbling that the sovereign God of the universe chose to redeem sinners with the precious blood of His Son. Adam’s fall was not the end of man, but the beginning thread of a rich redemptive tapestry that would reveal the Messiah.
Christ must be proclaimed from the Gospels and Epistles, but the Law and Prophets look forward to His coming and proclaim Him as well (Lk 24:27). What does it mean to preach Christ from these? Him We Proclaim by Dennis Johnson seeks to answer this question by drawing from the insights and disciplines of the apostles (2). Rather than focus on homiletics, the author provides a theology of preaching. Since God is sovereign over history and His Word is an inspired unity, the author contends that preachers should emulate the apostles’ doctrine and hermeneutics (often called redemptive-historic) in their preaching (9-11).
Johnson is a professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California and an associate pastor at New Life Presbyterian Church. Firmly planted both in academia and pastoral ministry, he has provided a work worth consideration. Him We Proclaim should receive a warm reception among those who see great continuity throughout God’s Word. For those, such as this reviewer, who see a bit more discontinuity than Johnson, his work may raise concern.
Him We Proclaim is divided into two major parts starting with: “The Case for Apostolic, Christocentric Preaching.” Johnson’s includes an overview of contemporary homiletic emphases followed by a study of the apostle Paul’s preaching. A survey of hermeneutic controversies throughout history and an examination of objections complete his case.
Johnson submits three purposes for preaching: to convert, to edify, and to instruct (27). He observes in chapter two that preachers tend toward one of these three purposes. For instance, Bill Hybels emphasizes preaching to convert, whereas Jay Adams preaches to edify. The author offers Tim Keller as an example who seeks to convert, edify, and instruct (54-61).
Chapter three anchors the author’s case in an excellent exegetical study of Colossians 1:24-2:7. Paul preached to convert, edify, and instruct. He knew the needs of his hearers as he proclaimed Christ. He sought to teach and admonish, knowing the price to be paid as a minister. His authority and empowerment came from God (64-65). Johnson provides bullet points at the end of the chapter, observations that help define apostolic preaching (95-96).
Authors: Gary Gilley