Assessment of Sermons by David Busic, Dan Boone, and Fred Craddock

Posted: October 3, 2012 in Sermons
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Sermon 1: Dr. David Busic on the Lord’s Prayer

Dr. Busic integrated a couple of different styles throughout his moves.  He employed narrative preaching, implementing stories from his personal experience.  The sermon was primarily inductive.  Initially, Dr. Busic began with the general conclusion: God is Father.  Then, looking through the window of human experience, Dr. Busic weaved the sermon back to our conception of father experienced through our earthly fathers.  After addessing the congregational blocks, the sermon then went back to the original assertion of God as Father setting the standard for fatherhood.  Roughly, the pattern of sermon plotted: trouble in the text, grace in the text, response called for in the text.  Thus, the message moved the audience to experience each move, followed by a call for response to that movement.

The big idea of the sermon is God is Father.  God is relational and desires to have relationship with us as God’s children.  God’s character is that of a loving Father that goes beyond the love of even the best earthly father.  In fact, God defines fatherhood, not humanity.  God is not distant, but continuously draws near.  As we trust God, we are drawn closer to the Father.  The Kingdom breaking into the world means God is near and among us.  As such, we can speak to the Father as children, not as “professional religious leaders.”  God doesn’t need His ego stroked but genuinely wants us to be in intimate relationship with Him.

The theological strength of the sermon was in the image of father.  In our context, we often view God as cosmic, transcendent, and omnipotent.  In other words, God is distant and cold.  However, the sermon brought God into our world and made God accessible and loving.  It broke the barrier of believing that God keeps us at arm’s length.

This sermon can be powerful because sometimes earthly father are distant and relatively unengaged in the relationship.  It creates dissonance in understanding God as Father.  The sermon reminded me that God really does care and sets the standard for earthly fatherhood.  It helps me to see that God values me as a dearly loved child.  It’s really not a matter of making myself good enough or acceptable enough to God.  Instead, I am loved for who I am.  The same is true for others that I come into contact with.  The prayer reminds us of this fact because it is not simply “My Father” but “Our Father.”

I think I benefitted from this style of preaching because it felt like I was being led, not pulled, to a different understanding of God that opened up a new possibilities in my relationship with God.  Also, the form was not rigid but was utilized like a painter’s brushes.  Different brushes created different effects.  Seeing how the congregational blocks were given weight while being addressed with the Biblical text reminded me that these are always important elements to address in the sermon.  The preacher must be able to listen to the audience before speaking to the audience.

Sermon 2: Dr. Dan Boone on Exile in a Postmodern World

Dr. Boone utilized narrative preaching primarily.  Essentially, he set up two windows or parallel worlds.  The first world was our world and the resulting sense of Exile that had occurred between generations of moderns and postmoderns.  The second world was the world of Isaiah in the Babylonian Exile.  Drawing parallels between the two allowed Dr. Boone to walk back and forth between the windows with the audience.

The big idea was surrounding the idea of exile.  There is a sense where people that lived in “Yesteryear” or Jerusalem before the Exile want to go back to those days of security and back to where “home” is.  The culture assaults us at every front and threatens our identity.  Those that have grown up in the Exile don’t remember the “good ‘ole days.”  They are more likely to be syncretistic and follow after the false gods.  Despite these real threats, God is moving Israel forward into a new future… not back to “Yesteryear.”  God is doing a new thing and it may be in ways that make us uncomfortable (Cyrus).  Rather than reacting in fear, we need to trust in God’s ability to bring us into His future.

The image of God was Creator and alive!  God is able to create new realities for the people and God is quite capable of defending Himself and taking care of God’s people.  We don’t need to defend God, like the gods of Babylon need defending.  God is described as a Potter.  God is shaping Israel and us as we move into this new future and uncharted territory.

The theological strength of this sermon was showing God to be strong, capable, and intentional.  God is able to do what God sets out to do.  God doesn’t need us to carry Him or defend Him.  God carries us!  God was also shown to be caring.  A potter’s work is a work of love and careful attention.  God works in a similar manner in bringing God’s people into this new future.

This sermon really impacted me because I am dealing with some of these same tensions in the church I serve.  There is a great deal of fear from older members and there is very little serious reflection from the younger members.  This creates a divide rather than a unity that is characteristic of God.  The sermon instilled hope in me because it gave voice to my frustration with both sides and allowed me to see how God might be working to move us toward a new future… uncertainties and all.  In the midst of that, I don’t need to carry God, God is carrying us.

The narrative style that was utilized really helped to diffuse the potential conflict or tension that might otherwise have characterized this topic.  Dr. Boone was able to open up the congregation for self-reflection while doing so with a “gentle hand.”  The creative imagination that permeated the sermon helped me to see how narrative is more than simply telling the story.  It allows us to enter the story in our own world.

Sermon 3: Dr. Fred Craddock on Lazarus and the Rich Man

Dr. Fred Craddock uses the inductive style of preaching.  It utilizes narrative by creating pictures and images that invite the congregation to explore and engage the text.  It is like wondering thought that leads somewhere, which is not to say that it is aimless.  It is intentional, but it is done in a stream-of-thought mode.  In this way, Craddock leads the congregation from what is known in their world back into the text to understand better what is happening.

The big idea of the sermon was that shock tactics will not convince people of their need for salvation.  If people will not believe the Scriptures, then even someone raised to life from the dead will not convince them.  It also affirmed the idea that having Scripture alone does not save us.  Obedience is a necessary response to the God we encounter in Scripture.  As such, knowledge alone does not save.

The image of God in this sermon is a God that does not force us to believe and come into proper relationship with Him.  In fact, God seems to allow us the freedom to choose or reject Him.  God is a God that continues to try to communicate without violating our freedom.  God desires relationship and communicates it through the Scriptures as we are saturated in its pages.

The theological strengths of the sermon revolve around a God that is just, yet is trying to extend mercy to us by calling to us.  God empowers us to understand and hear God’s desires for us as communicated through the Spirit in the Word.  However, God does not force feed it to us, but invites us.  The text also reminds us of God’s justice, which will eventually make all things right.  The poor will be comforted and the unjust will receive the consequences of a life of greed and injustice.  In other words, God is on the side of those that are weak and disadvantaged.  In Scripture we are confronted by our own lack of holiness, while being drawn toward a God that desires to make us holy.

Craddock’s style is very conversational and humorous.  His use of humor was appropriate, poignant and timely.  It did not distract from the message, but helped people to stay engaged overall.  Because his style was conversational, it was accessible.  His use of language painted a vivid mental image.  Also, his overall sermon strengthened my view of the importance of Scripture in life and in preaching.

I will benefit from his preaching style by seeing how humor can be utilized in helpful ways.  This is a better alternative to sarcasm.  Also, you could tell he had done his homework on the passage and there was a deep care and commitment to the text.  However, he was not using lofty theological language but was communicating in a way in which anybody could have understood and related.  We are not merely communicating information but are looking for transformation.  As such, it is important that we are not explaining the text as much as we are evoking a response to the text.

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