A Look At American Preaching
Best Sermons: 1962 Protestant Edition, by G. Paul Butler (Van Nostrand, 1962, 318 pp., $5.95), is reviewed by James Daane, Editorial Associate, CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
The craftsmanship of these sermons runs from acceptable to excellent. None is poorly wrought; none made late of a Saturday evening.
Evaluated in terms of evangelical content, some sound the Good News of what God had done in Christ in tones clean and clear. Many, if not most, proclaim the Gospel, but the articulation is more or less muffled. Some of these are open to objection, not for what they say, but for what they fail to say, or assert merely as undertones. Some echo no Gospel at all, a judgment that must fall on more than the productions of two Unitarians.
In general it may be said that these sermons do not reflect the old liberal optimism about man, but the situation of man in crisis. The crisis is not the perennial crisis of the individual caught in the anguish of deliverance from sin and death. It is rather that of the twentieth-century man caught in those narrows of history where the past overtakes the present in judgment. Not a single sermon is devoted specifically to sin; none to that moment in which each man dies alone—even though others die at the same time. While most acknowledge that it is God alone who can save us, none explicitly rings the bells on the theme of salvation by grace alone in the grand style of the Reformation. Some few, not yet perceiving the signs of the times, urge that while God had done his work the rest is up to man, since further action on the part of God would violate man’s freedom (assumedly to be lost!) Happily it may be said that there is more Gospel in these 42 sermons than would have been the ...1
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