Item description for Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today by John Stott...
Overview World-renowned preacher and scholar John Stott examines contemporary objections to preaching and sets forth a theological foundation for effective contemporary preaching. Includes a historical sketch of preaching and practical suggestions for Bible study and sermon preparation
Publishers Description In his preface to this major study on preaching by John Stott, Michael Green writes, "Much of the current uncertainty about the gospel and the mission of the church must be due to a generation of preachers which has lost confidence in the Word of God." Perhaps no one is more eminently qualified to address this concern than John Stott whose scholarship and personality have shown generations of believers that he has total confidence in the Word of God and in preaching. "I believe that nothing is better calculated to restore health and vitality to the Church or to its members into maturity in Christ" reflects Stott, than a recovery of true, biblical, contemporary preaching." His book provides precisely those practical guidelines and experienced perspectives needed for such a recovery. After beginning with a historical sketch of preaching, Stott examines contemporary objections to preaching, looking in particular at the Cybernetics Revolution and the influence of television. He then moves on to the theological foundations for preaching after which he examines how preaching can serve to build bridges across chasms of political, social, and ethical controversies. His study then takes on a more practical slant as he discusses how to cultivate and overcome the obstacles to Bible study as well as how to prepare sermons. He ends with a frank yet thoughtful reflection on the preacher's responsibility to live his message through sincerity, earnestness, courage, and humility. Addressed to the head as well as to the heart, this book will encourage and challenge both ministers and laypersons to give themselves more wholeheartedly to their calling -- to make known God s message of salvation to a world in dire need of hearing it."
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 1994
Publisher WM. B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING CO.
ISBN 0802806279 ISBN13 9780802806277
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More About John Stott
John Stott (1921-2011) was rector emeritus of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London, and founder of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. His many other books include The Cross of Christ, Your Mind Matters, and Basic Christianity.
John Stott has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Between Two Worlds (Studies & Documents #45)?
Foundation for Biblical Preaching - Exhaustive Apr 18, 2005
Between Two Worlds is a very comprehensive book that pulls from various resources and compiles a lot of information on the topic of preaching into one detailed book.
Stott shows that the first priority of Jesus among other things was to preach. Preaching was also the first priority to the apostles, as stated in Acts 6. Stott goes on to show how preaching was the greatest priority for the great church leaders of history, and that it was the expounding of Scripture that led the Reformation. He also says that it is when preaching God's truths is neglected that the church falls into darkness and loses its power and spirituality.
Stott answers the objections to preaching in our times. There are three main objections to preaching. The problems are the atmosphere of anti-authority, the "cybernetics revolution" and the loss of confidence in the gospel. It is argued that people do not want to hear preachers talking as if they are the authority on truth and are suspicious of the "institution" or "establishment" because of its "entrenched privilege or unassailable power." However, Stott points out though that Christ himself was somewhat of an anti-establishment figure himself. The environment is different these days because most everybody is educated and has an opinion, and pastors are no longer distinguished by their education. Nevertheless, Stott believes that people actually do want some clear guidance, though they may not want to hear some arrogant person trying to shove their opinions on other people. What they are really looking for is truth that resonates in their soul, that comes from God along and His authority, and convicts their hearts through the Holy Spirit-not just some other person's opinion. What they really need is only found in the authority of God's Word. (This was insightful.) This is a primary reason for why Stott believes expository preaching is very important and still relevant, even in these "post-modern" times. The sermon is supposed to be a revelation of God's message to His people, not merely the preacher's own opinion. He says, "The sermon is by its very nature a revelation, not an exhortation."
Another problem that people see with preaching is its relevance. Many people do not see the gospel as relevant to their lives. In order for it to be relevant to the lives of other people, it has to first affect the life of the preacher and that must be evident. Preachers can be more relevant by answering the questions that people have and dealing with the issues they face in their daily lives.
Stott also describes how the use of technology in communication has made an impact on attention span of audiences. People wonder if preaching is still an effective means of communicating with people. The book is somewhat dated because the Internet revolution had not even taken off when Stott wrote it, but he was perceptive enough to see the effect of computers and technology on communication. However, Stott argues that nothing will ever replace face-to-face communication. Stott argues that the sermon is the only effective way of fulfilling the diving imperative of communicating God's messages to his church in a relevant way. I also agree with his point about how television produces a mass-culture where people turn off their brains and merely accept what is being said, without using the necessary critical faculties. Nevertheless, we cannot take television away and it is here to stay-preachers have to be able to captivate their audience's attention.
The third problem that Stott deals with is the loss of confidence in the Gospel (not to mention the Bible). We need to believe that the Gospel has the power to give people better lives. If the preacher does not believe in what he is preaching, then he should not be preaching.
Stott's chapter on the theology of preaching was my other favorite chapter. The idea of preaching is based on several convictions. The first conviction is that God is light and truth and wants to be revealed. The second conviction is that God has taken the initiative to reveal himself through the course of history. The third conviction is that God has not merely communicated through nature, but that he has actually spoken through his Word. Stott believes that God's historical action and explanatory words go hand-in-hand. It is only because God has given us a message that we can speak with authority and not of our own opinion.
There are three convictions related to Scripture that serve as a foundation of Biblical preaching. The first is that God has spoken through Scripture. Even though they are not his direct words, the Bible claims that God inspired the writers of the Bible and they wrote what they learned in their own words. Jesus quoted from the Old Testament showing that he also believed in the authority of Scripture. We must believe that the Bible is not merely a "good book" but that it is an authoritative source of Truth that helps us understand God and the world around us. The second is that he still speaks through Scripture. We must also believe that Scripture is still relevant to us today, and that it has power to change lives. How does it have power to change lives? Because truth is a mighty force, capable of starting and stopping war when nothing else is as powerful. This is fundamental to the Christian faith. The Christian church depends on the authority of Scripture. When we preach, we are to preach with the authority of God by expounding on His messages as revealed through Scripture written by humans. Preaching caused the Reformation and the greatest spiritual revivals.
The pastor's role is as a shepherd who is responsible for guarding the spirituality of the church congregation and keeping them connected to God. As shepherds, they are responsible for the spiritual nourishment of the congregation through teaching and preaching.
Stott defines preaching as bridge building. It builds a bridge between the past, historical context and the truths contained in Scripture, connecting it to the present times in a contemporary context, thus the importance of exegesis and hermeneutics. He goes into the subject of Biblical exegesis and expository preaching. For a book that deals with preaching based on properly interpreting the Bible, see my review on "Biblical Preaching" by Robbinson. (ISBN 0801022622) The chapter on preparing sermons was mostly review for me.
We also must come to Scripture with expectancy-a hope that we will find something that God will speak to us through. However, Stott is concerned about preachers who spend all their time in their study without some practical real-world experience. He says that we should also study other things besides the Bible so we can know how to connect the Bible to modern-times.
Stott goes on to emphasize the importance of sincerity and earnestness. People want to know that we are honest, real people who really care about what we are talking about. He mentions that humor, when used properly, can be a powerful tool for breaking down defenses and connecting people on an emotional level. Finally, Stott talks about the need to be courageous in speaking about issues that may not be popular.
Bridging the Chasm through Preaching May 13, 2004
Stott's modern classic, Between Two Worlds, argues that there is a chasm between the biblical world and the modern world. This chasm is bridged through the preaching and proclamation of the Word of God. It is the preacher, empowered through the Spirit, who stands in the gap between these two worlds. It is through preaching whereby the world of the Bible is brought into the world of modern hearers and modern culture is confronted with the Bible.
Stott begins by briefly surveying the history of preaching from Jesus to the 20th-Century. He continues by answering three objections, which are commonly leveled against preaching. First, he confronts the anti-authority mood of our culture by arguing that preaching should be dialogical - preaching is not a monologue but a conversation. The second objection is the ever-growing problem with the technological dominance of our culture. God is a speaking God and Christianity is very much a culture of the written and spoken word. How then is one to be heard in an ever-increasing culture of images? Stott shows that the sacraments are visual and most necessary our lives must visually reflect the message we proclaim. The last objection is the loss of confidence in the gospel. Founded upon strong conviction, Christian preaching, must regain confidence in the truth, relevance, and power of the gospel.
The heart of the book is found in chapters three and four. Chapter three highlights the theological foundations for preaching. One must have biblical convictions about God, Scripture, the Church, the pastorate, and preaching. We must allow the text to be master and preachers must recognize that they are servants to Scripture. In chapter four he proceeds to make the case that preaching is bridge-building. Modern people often question the relevance of ancient Scripture. It is the task of the preacher to show them Scripture's relevance and demand on their lives. Therefore preachers are to be men of the Word and men of the world.
In chapters five and six Stott offers help on the task of preaching. Chapter five deals with the roll of study in the life of the pastor. We are to study the Bible and the world and in doing such the purpose is not to gain intellectual knowledge but to learn to think and live more Christianly. Chapter six deals with the preparation and construction of sermons. He points to the necessity of noting the dominant thought of the text and using this as the basis and proposition statement of your sermon. Around this thought - the main point of the scriptural text - is to flow the entire sermon.
The final two chapters deal with the character of the preacher. Stott stresses that the preacher must the balance of sincerity and earnestness, courage and humility. The purpose of preaching is to both comfort and disturb the congregation. The preacher is to declare the sinfulness of humanity and the hope of the gospel of Christ. In doing so the preacher must speak to both the heart and the mind - the whole person is to be in view. Christian preaching is to be done in the humility of our human frailty yet in the power of the Spirit of God.
Stott's book is both a theological and practical argument for sound preaching. The chapter on the history of preaching, although terribly short, certainly serves to whet one's appetite for a deeper history on the preaching of God's Word. For filling in the blanks one should consult Hughes Oliphant-Old's magisterial The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church.
The book shows its age in dealing with the contemporary objections for another transmitter of information and images is the Internet. Between the Internet and TV the preacher has his work cut out for him. How is one to make the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments interesting and exciting for those who have the Internet and hundreds of television channels? It is truly a great and daunting task.
The section in which Stott makes suggestions in dealing with controversial issues is helpful. He suggests making good use of your congregation. Listen to your people and hear their opinions and ideas on such difficult questions. Let them speak and listen to their thoughts and ideas. Seek to know their hearts and minds and then preaching through the more difficult waters will be more safely charted.
The role of the preacher is a high and lofty task. Not only is he to know the Bible but he also must know his congregation and the world in which they exist. He is to be a man of the Bible and a man of the newspaper. The task of preaching is to bridge the chasm, which exists between the Biblical world and the modern world. It is a difficult yet great calling. Stott's book is a great guide to this end. It will benefit both the seasoned pastor and the preacher in training. And may this book serve as a call to reclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in our preaching and ministry. To him be all the glory!
There are better books out there than this Aug 10, 2003
Stott believes that preaching is indispensable to Christianity, for in the act of preaching God himself is speaking though the Word to the congregation. There is, however, a cultural divide between biblical and modern culture that must be bridged if effective communication is to take place and the preacher has the awesome responsibility to bridge the gap.
In the best tradition of the reformation, Stott emphasizes the centrality of preaching. In doing so, he is taking a stand which is increasingly lonely as the contemporary church is stressing worship, often at the expense of preaching. Like Chapell, he is somewhat suspicious of new forms of proclamation (narrative, drams, etc). The church, he states, stands or falls in preaching and preaching alone. Unfortunately, he does take quite a while to make this point.
The book is very dated filled with illustrations and studies from the 1970's. His projections how life will be by the year 2000 are way off the mark (Colonies on Mars and CB radios in every car and home are two of the more ridiculous examples). Often, Stott will drift off his subject into excessive social commentary. His long discussion on the influence of television on children is a prime example His advise to encourage debate with liberal Christian scholars misses the point- These scholars do not have the same world view we do, what's the use of a debate?
If this book was not required reading, I would have not completed it. It's too "British" for my tastes. Despite the helpful advice Stott does give, I believe that there are other books out there that can do a better job.
More than Preaching Apr 16, 2003
John Stott is a preacher of great renown so it is both enlightening and encouraging to read about his struggles with preaching as well as the advice he gives after a lifetime in the pulpit. Throughout the book he inserted small parentheses which seem minuscule but are very helpful to the aspiring preacher. Another delight in reading Stott's book is his thorough scouring of many homiletical books of others. In reading this book, one gets the sense they are reading somewhere between 8-10 books since Stott is culling information from them. This book is a far cry from being a shot from the hip. Stott has researched his topic well. I found this book to be more than just an homiletics book but also a history book and a spiritual formation book. With the modern crisis in preaching of preachers who are ignorant of the history of preaching and more importantly impotent in their spirituality, I can hardly criticize Stott for giving more attention to these matters. Since I enjoy Church history a great deal, I was pleased to read the perspectives many of the great preachers had on the form, power and content of preaching. This bred a great deal of understanding in my own mind toward the task of preaching. I was also greatly encouraged to see the effects of God's Word as it has been preached from faithful vessels with God's glory in mind. If there is one thing I would want to communicate to others about this book it would be its emphasis on the mandatory spiritual life. From cover to cover Stott is emphatic in separating God's Word from man's word. Since the preacher is not preaching his own ideas but rather God's, it is imperative that the preacher not impede the power of the message with his own shoddy character. The preacher is first of all a man of God and secondly a receptacle and a distributor of God's Word.
A Good Balance of Theology and Practice May 3, 2001
I just finished this book (English edition "I Believe in Preaching") and, though I had a number of quibbles, I think this is one of Stott's most classic books. Churches throughout the world have systematically abandoned expository preaching and taken hold of secular business growth strategies. While growth in numbers may occur, the depth of faith is not there because the preaching is not from the Bible. Stott's book is a reminder that preachers should not preach what the audience wants to hear, but what they need to hear. What Stott really pushed for me was the notion that preachers should engage both the intellect and the emotion. Preaching which is merely intellectual is dry and uninteresting, no matter how true it is. Preaching which is merely emotional has little substance to it. True Expository preaching (the systematic preaching through books of the Bible, rather than topics or themes or hobbyhorses of the preacher) engages both the head and the heart, the intellect and the emotions, the ancient world (of the Bible) with the modern world of today.