Volume 23, Number 5
As you know by now, I’m a fan of simple preaching. I love Luther’s
assessment of a good preacher: “He’s the best preacher who can
teach in a plain, childlike, popular, and simple way” (AE 54:384).
A good preacher refuses to talk in secret pastor code language.
He understands the reality of biblical illiteracy and meets his
people where they are in their life of faith. He focuses his hearers
on a central truth in his sermons, instead of wandering all over
the map. Above all, he points people to Jesus with clear law and
gospel again and again. I’m a fan of simple preaching!
But I’m afraid that phrase—“simple preaching”—can be easily
misunderstood. It might sound like “simple preaching” means
preaching simplistic sermons without much meat or depth. It might
sound like “simple preaching” means sticking to easy sections of
Scripture and simply rehashing the plan of salvation week after
week. It might sound like “simple preaching” means avoiding
anything that challenges our hearers’ understanding. If I’ve given
you that impression, Jesus has other ideas. Jesus sends us out
to “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt
28:20). Jesus wants us to preach and teach everything in his Word.
A brother pastor asked me this perceptive question: “What about
the sections of Scripture that are not simple? It’s good that you
began here with Jesus’ parables and Paul’s simple preaching. But
Peter noted that Paul is often difficult to understand…. What if
the text is not so simple?”