Over the past 15+ years I’ve come to a pretty strong conviction that an understanding of redemptive history is of utmost importance in the pulpit ministry. Preaching that has no understanding of redemptive history is preaching that lacks. There are nuances to this discussion of course. I’m not an advocate of hyper redemptive-historical preaching. And I believe there is a time and place in the pulpit for topical and doctrinal sermons as well as solid application. Basically, my view is that the pulpit ministry should have a firm and balanced grasp of systematic theology and biblical theology, both of which should be generally evident in the preaching. I like how Edmund Clowney spoke about this in his very good book, Preaching and Biblical Theology.
“There is…no opposition between biblical theology and systematic or dogmatic theology, though the two are distinct. Systematic theology must draw from the results of biblical theology, and biblical theology must be aware of the broad perspectives of systematics. …The development of systematics is strictly thematic or topical. …The development of biblical theology is redemptive-historical.”
Later Clowney mentioned Geerhardus Vos; I’ve always liked these paragraphs:
“The preacher who takes up Vos’ ‘Biblical Theology’ for the first time enters a rich new world, a world which lifts up his heart because he is a preacher. Biblical theology, truly conceived, is a labor of worship. Beside Vos’ ‘Biblical Theology’ should be set his little book of sermons, ‘Grace and Glory.’ There we hear a scholar preaching to theological students (the sermons were delivered in Princeton Seminary), but with a burning tenderness and awesome realism that springs from the grace and glory of God’s revelation, the historical actualization of his eternal counsel of redemption.”
Clowney then talked about the text and the pulpit.
“An old Dutch preacher has sagely observed that the pulpit must not drive us to the text, but rather the text must drive us to the pulpit. In biblical theology that scriptural dynamic impels the preacher’s heart with unimagined strength.”
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015