Friday, December 7, 2012

What "Good Preaching" Does

I hope you found the Stephenson sermon on St. Nicholas of some use. Sometime ago my partner here at Redeemer, Rev. Michael Frese, said: "When I hear really good preaching, it makes me want to preach." I'd never heard it put quite that way before, but I'd felt it. He is spot on. I think we need to spend some time cultivating good sources for this inspiration. Luther's and Walther's postils fall pretty flat for me. Pius Parsch and Patrick Henrty Reardon, neither of whom are Lutheran, do more for me in this regard. What do you read, besides the Bible itself, that makes you want to preach?

I spent November in serious study and analysis of Dr. Norman Nagel's published sermons. It made me want to preach. I am now waist deep in Franzmann. Here is a little Franzmann gem you may not have seen, since it is not included in the single collection of Franzmann sermons Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets!. It is the sort of thing that makes me want to preach: Who Is a God Like Thee? by Martin Franzmann

As flat as Luther tends to be in the Postils, I do find the Genesis lectures and the late sermons from Volume 51, particularly On the Sum of the Christian Life (p. 259) Sermon in Castel Pleissenburg (p. 303), Baptism of Berthold Von Anhalt (p. 315) make me want to preach.

What else?


  1. Luther's postils, as it happens, especially the House Postil. But I benefit particularly from hearing good preaching. As a Finn in exile, I regularly listen to a couple of the very gifted pastors of Luther Foundation Finland (, and am much edified, and they make me want to preach.

  2. I agree that the Postils often fall flat. They are actually better read in PD Pahl's *Luther for the Busy Man.* He pulls the best lines from them and reduces each sermon to seven small pages. Probably 1400 words total.

    You've hit on the preachers that I love already. And I think we have also mentioned in this space Giertz's What the Bible Says. The big fathers on the big days are usually very good as well: Augustine, Chrysostom (any of his commentary's on Pauline epistles, too), Chrysologus, Bernard, Leo the Great, etc.

    For non-Lutherans: Capon, Craddock (I know! But I heard him in person once, and he really is good at a certain type of sermon, think Nagel but UCC, if such a thing were possible), Lewis (usually found in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses).


  3. Fr. Petersen,

    Thank you for the Stephenson, which I immediately had to share with my American-Saxon wife a couple of days ago. We were blessed. My sceptical attitude towards the Emperor has flipped about some 180 degrees. I'll take Stephenson over Gibbon.

    The short meditations found in the very Lutheran Every Day I Will Bless Thee are edifying and provoking; they truly make the heart burn, with the insights which open the Scriptures (and indeed, the way of Emmaus. Can they stimulate good preaching? Well, I have no office to preach; but frankly the insights, upon sharing, can make one something of a big-shot in the Bible class. Highly recommended!

    The book, I mean; not the striving to appear as a big-shot.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor

  4. The problem with the Church Postils is that they are not so much Luther, as Luther edited by a peer, and refined, and then published AS Luther with Luther's blessing.

    But the House Postils are unfiltered Luther. That explains why the House Postils do not sound as flat as the Church Postils.


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