Friday, March 26, 2010

Review of Why Johnny Can’t Preach by T. David Gordon

Author: T. David Gordon

Pages: 112 pages

Publisher: P & R Publishing

Price: 5.95

Genre: Preaching/Pastoral Help

Quick Summary:

Gordon is not a preacher. He is a professor of religion and Greek at Grove City College. He has also spent time teaching in humanities and media ecology. It is this latter field, media ecology, that provides the impetus for this book. His major thesis is that preaching today is weak because preachers have been far too influenced by the media saturated culture.

This is a short book, but it packs a punch. Gordon does not hold back any critique nor is he shy in pointing in the direction we should be going. The 112 pages are divided into 5 chapters. The first of which is dedicated to outlining the problem. In the second and third chapter Gordon highlights the modern preachers lack of ability in writing and reading. The fourth chapter is a plea to preach a Christocentric gospel. The final chapter is a brief suggestion to, “cultivate those pre-homiletical sensibilities that are necessary to preach well.” (96)

What I Liked:

Gordon provides a really helpful perspective to the state of today’s pulpit. I wish I could say that he overstates his case or that such preaching was confined to Presbyterianism; sadly it is not. I have not sat under a great deal of preaching, but I am exposed to much Christian literature, content, and people. I think Gordon is correct in his assessment.

Much preaching is simply moralism, how-to, introspection, or a social gospel. The books lining the shelves of your Christian bookstore are evidence of this. Even if these are not all preachers they certainly sit under preaching; this content comes from preaching somewhere. Gordon’s points and his suggestions for changed need to be heeded.

What I Disliked:

Part of me wants to say that Gordon does not place enough emphasis on the Spirit. That may be true. Perhaps, he puts more emphasis on means instead of the source of good Christian preaching. But I have heard preaching that “relies on the Spirit” and suffers from the same things that Gordon speaks of. I think a focus on learning to read and write well may be helpful. This is not the only book on preaching and should not be viewed as such. This is a critique and one simple and pointed suggestion for change. As such I cannot say there is much that I dislike.

Should You Buy It?

I am not certain what audience needs this. If you are exposed to this book chances are you are exposed to other books out of the same stream of thought. Other authors will say much the same things that Gordon does, but they will say it in more pages. Furthermore, few have studied the effects of media as much as our author has. The book is only $5.95 it is a quick read and well worth the money.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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