Tim Raymond passed along to me a pointer to a recent Pyromaniacs post about Hughes Oliphant Old’s most recent volume on the history of Preaching, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, v. 7, Our Own Time (Eerdmans, 2010), ISBN, 0802817718.
That blog post excerpts Old’s chapter on John MacArthur’s preaching. Though I am periodically distraught with MacArthur’s technical ability with the Greek text (and discourage students from depending on his commentaries as sources for exegetical work), he is a good preacher and an effective communicator of Scripture. In that regard, I’ll be interested to browse Old’s most recent volume to see who else he discusses. Here are a few excerpts from his comments on MacArthur.
MacArthur fills these sermons with a wealth of factual material . . . . In the way of human interest stories one finds, on the other hand, very little. The illustrative material focuses on the biblical story. It is the passage of Scripture that is illuminated rather than a principle drawn out of the passage.
Why do so many people listen to MacArthur, this product of all the wrong schools? How can he pack out a church on Sunday morning in an age in which church attendance has seriously lagged? Here is a preacher who has nothing in the way of a winning personality, good looks, or charm. Here is a preacher who offers us nothing in the way of sophisticated homiletical packaging. No one would suggest that he is a master of the art of oratory. What he seems to have is a witness to true authority. He recognizes in Scripture the Word of God, and when he preaches, it is Scripture that one hears. It is not that the words of John MacArthur are so interesting as it is that the Word of God is of surpassing interest. That is why one listens.