Preaching to the Affections – A Book Review

Good Christian preaching is not only full of biblical and gospel truth, it also is aimed at the heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Or, in other words, good preaching has much to do with the affections.  This is the theme of a recent book called Burning Hearts: Preaching to the Affections (Ross-Shire: Christian Focus, 2014).  In this short book, the authors give some basic info about sermons that touch the heart.

There are two parts to the book: 1) An explanation of what it means to preach to the affections, and 2) four examples of sermons that speak to the affections.  In the first part, the authors define affections and preaching.  Then they spend a little time answering these questions: “Why preach to the affections?” and “How do you preach to the affections?”

In case you’re wondering, here’s the authors’ definition of affections:

“Affections are the movement of our thoughts, feelings and will towards a desired object, person or event.  An affection is what inclines us to something (whereas an effect is what results from something).  Affections are what move us towards action” (p. 14).

I appreciated this section that describes what affections are, and I liked the reasons the authors gave to preach to the affections (for two examples, we should preach to the affections because it’s biblical and because there is historical precedent).  The section on how to preach to the affections was also helpful; I’m always thankful for biblical advice on preaching!  The sermon examples at the end of the book weren’t overly helpful for me, since often reading sermons is much different than hearing a sermon.  It’s tough to read a sermon and then listen to the authors reflect and comment on the written sermon.

This book is helpful, and I’m glad I read it.  My major critique is that the book is too short!  I was hoping for more information on preaching to the affections.  This seemed like an introduction to the topic.  The “how to” chapter was only around 15 small pages.  But again, it has made me think more about preaching to the affections, and I will for sure read some sections again while I prepare sermons the next few weeks!

Josh Moody and Robin Weeks, Burning Hearts: Preaching to the Affections.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI

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2 comments on “Preaching to the Affections – A Book Review

  1. Ron says:

    And a poorer definition of “affections” may never be found!
    The definition does fit the Romanticism that infects our day, however.
    Almost 40 years ago a pastor introduced me to The Sum of Saving Knowledge, which is (as I’m sure you know) and original document within the Westminster Standards.
    Said SSK states
    “That the fountain of all our miscarriage, and actual sinning against God, is in the heart, which comprehendeth the mind, will, affections…”
    So, I conclude that the definition is poor. My opinion…
    As one saturates his mind with Scripture–it seems to me–he will note that the heart is spoken of most of the time as the seat of the intellect, less often as the seat of the will, and very little as the seat of the affections/emotions. Never until today have I seen a definition that takes a part of the whole as its whole (affections being a part of heart in the minds of the Dvines, apparently).
    All this to say that we sure have slipped away from a biblical psychology and confessional orthodoxy when it comes to anthropology and soteriology.

    • To be fair, Ron, these authors go on and explain the definition from Scripture. They started with a general description, and then went on to biblical specifics – specifics I didn’t list here (but they are in the book). So the authors do talk about will, mind, actions, and the heart, among other things.
      Hope this helps!
      Shane

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