Book Review 21: “Power In The Pulpit” by Jerry Vines & Jim Shaddix

***DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE FROM MOODY PUBLISHERS TO REVIEW***

Jerry Vines & Jim Shaddix wrote a long, informational book titled Power In The Pulpit: How To Prepare And Deliver Expository Sermons. This book represents the fourth book I have reviewed for Moody Publishers. David Platt wrote the foreword to this revised edition of the book (pp. 9-10). Platt urges the reader to “digest and devour” this book that has had quite an impact on his life and ministry (p. 9).

After some prefaces, acknowledgements and an introduction (pp. 11-19), the authors begin part one of this book (pp. 23-135). This part discusses “The Preparation For Exposition.” It has three chapters. The first chapter, titled “Defining The Task: A Philosophy Of Expository Preaching”, explains the roots, definition, journey and rationale of expository preaching (pp. 23-58). Chapter two, titled “Laying The Foundation: A Theology For Expository Preaching”, argues that the Word of God, the call of God, the Spirit of God and the gospel of God all “provide the groundwork for a proper understanding of biblical exposition” (pp. 59-93). In chapter three (titled “Developing The Preacher: The Life Of The Expositor”), Vines & Shaddix explain the various qualities that help with the aforementioned development (pp. 95-135). While the first two chapters are solid, the third chapter takes a bit of a detour towards the end when both Shaddix and Vines’ call The Message, The Living Bible and J.B. Phillips’ paraphrase of the New Testament “good paraphrases” that can help with “new understanding of familiar passages” (p. 123). The Message is an awful paraphrase. Some people (myself included) call it a Herephrase (a heretical paraphrase of the Bible). J.B. Phillips was regarded as a “heretic who denied Bible inerrancy.” Finally, while The Living Bible may not be as bad, few scholars have encouraged its use. Therefore, it is clear that Shaddix and Vines’ labeling of the aforementioned paraphrases as “good paraphrases” shows an alarming and gross lack of discernment.

Part two of this book explains “The Process of Exposition” (pp. 139-247). Chapter four, titled “Studying The Text: The Interpretation Process”, explains the four recommended and successive questions to ask when exegeting a biblical passage (pp. 139-179). Chapters five and six both focus on organizing the sermon (pp. 181-247). These chapters explain the process of unifying, outlining, amplifying, introducing and concluding the sermon. Part two represented the best part of this book; it gave some good information and explained some nice pointers for sermon organization.

Part three of this book (the longest part of them all, spanning four chapters) explains “The Presentation Of The Exposition” (pp. 251-385). Chapter seven, titled “Expressing The Thoughts: The Development of Preaching Style”, gives some ways to help improve one’s preaching style (pp. 251-282). While the chapter has some interesting information, its promotion of imagination, the subconscious mind, dreaming dreams and “seeing visions” was a bit too eerie and manmade for me (pp. 256-259). Chapter eight, titled “Playing The Voice: Proper Use Of The Preaching Instrument”, gives outstanding information on the specifics of the voice and how to protect it (pp. 283-311). Chapter nine, titled “Making The Connection: Preaching With Heart And Head”, explains how one preaches from his heart and head (pp. 313-349). The chapter also emphasizes storytelling and preaching with drama. Finally, chapter ten, titled “Preaching The Word: Keys To Effective Physical Delivery”, offers “guidelines for effective physical delivery of the sermonic message” (pp. 351-385). While the chapter has decent information, it has both a baffling spelling mistake (p. 374) and a poison pill, the latter in the form of twisting 1 Kings 19:12-13 to promote the “still, small voice” false doctrine (p. 356). Nowhere in Scripture are believers told to listen for the “still, small voice” of God. God speaks to us via His Son through the written Word of God (Hebrews 1:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21). The book concludes with a conclusion, some notes, several appendices, a bibliography and two indexes (pp. 387-438).

CONCLUSION

There is no doubt this book gives some good information. There is also no doubt this book exercises mediocre discernment at times. After all, the authors do hold in high regard The Message, The Phillips Bible and The Living Bible. However, none of those paraphrases are good. Furthermore, the authors promote the “still, small voice” doctrine. However, as shown earlier, Scripture shows that we hear God’s voice via the written Word, not something still and small. While the good does outweigh the bad in this book, one would be wise not to “digest and devour” all the stuff in this book blindly. Have your discernment shades handy with this book.

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