For quite some time, I’ve made it my intention to read a book or two by Al Mohler, but HiNS (He is Not Silent) ended up being my first foray into Mohler-land. I’ve wanted to read Mohler for a few reasons: firstly, he is extremely (and I mean extremely) well read, and well read people tend to have a better perspective on what’s really going on in the world; secondly, I respect the role Mohler has played in turning Southern Baptist Theological Seminary back towards orthodoxy; and thirdly, Mohler comes pretty highly recommend from some people I trust. I can honestly say that HiNS has encouraged me to dig deeper into Mohler’s library of works in the future.
Having just given the book high praise, I will admit that HiNS initially angered me just a bit. The part that disturbed me was the tone of the chapter on preaching as worship. I whole-heartedly agree with the chapter’s thesis, “that preaching should be the center of worship in our churches,” but I just felt like the examination Mohler gave of the current worship scene in Christianity was a little over-negative. The worship (musically and preaching-wise) that I’ve experience from events like the Passion Conferences makes me a little sensitive to negative critique of “this generation’s worship.” I know that Mohler’s intent wasn’t to criticize all modern worship because he states that in book, but never-the-less, the tone of the chapter made me wince a little.
The only other criticism I have of the book is that I personally feel a little more freedom to switch up preaching style than Mohler does. Mohler defines preaching as follows, “reading the text and explaining it – reproving, rebuking, exhorting, and patiently teaching directly from the text of Scripture” (Mohler, 52). Accordingly, if preachers don’t simply “read, explain, repeat,” then it isn’t preaching. However, I think it is perfectly appropriate to begin a sermon with a story or attention-getting technique as long as the content of the sermon is focused primarily on a text. I also believe it is ok to sometimes preach topical sermons as long as they are preached in a hermeneutically faithful way (although I don’t think topical preaching should be the norm).
Having issued these two criticism though (the tone of the worship chapter and the slight rigidity of sermon form) the book as a whole is awesome, amazing, encouraging, definitely worth reading!!!
Quotes I like
I could write a whole lot about the parts of HiNS that I love, but for brevity’s sake I’m going to give you 8 quotes that I loved from the book.
“The sacred desk has become an advice center, and the pew has become the therapist’s couch. Psychological and practical concerns have displaced theological exegesis, and the preacher directs his sermon to the congregation’s perceived needs rather than to their need for a Savior” (Mohler, 20).
“Yet theology is by definition not an ivory-tower discipline. it is not merely a form of academic discourse. When rightly conducted, theology is the conversation of the people of God seeking to understand the Lord whom we worship, and to know how He wills to be worshiped” (Mohler, 24).
“The sermon has not earned its place in Christian worship by proving its utility in comparison with other means of communication or aspects of worship. Rather, we preach because we have been commanded to preach” (Mohler, 39).
“I believe that the central problem in our crisis of preaching today is that…we no longer believe that hearing and responding to the Word of God is a matter of crucial importance. That is the only plausible reason I can offer for why expositional preaching is in decline, or even absent, in so many pulpits. Before the decline in expository preaching, there was the abandonment of the conviction that the Word of God comes as a matter of life and death” (Mohler, 54).
“In preaching the biblical text, the preacher explains how the Bible directs our thinking and living. This brings the task of expository preaching into direct confrontation with the postmodern worldview…we do not want to be told how to think or how to live…Every text demands a fundamental realignment of our basic worldview and way of life” (Mohler, 68).
Speaking of the importance of the meta-narrative of the Bible:
“Even more, the moralistic fables that many evangelicals hear from their pastors week in and week out will not evoke the kind of burning-in-the-heart awe that these two disciples experienced on the road to Emmaus. If we want our people to feel that kind of excitement about the gospel, then they need to hear and know the same sweeping story that Jesus unfolded to these two disciples” (Mohler, 95).
“The idea of the pastorate as a non-theological office is inconceivable in light of the New Testament” (Mohler, 106).
“We will be hard-pressed to define any activity as being more inherently theological than the preaching of God’s Word, for preaching is an exercise in the theological exposition of Scripture” (Mohler, 111).
Fav Two Chapters
Chapter 5: A Steward of Mysteries, The Preacher’s Authority and Purpose
Chapter 6: “Did Not Our Hearts Burn Within Us?”, Preaching the Bible’s Big Story
Read it if you preach!