There’s no question that Fred Craddock is one of the greatest orators on the American religious scene in the 20th century.
Putting aside doctrine and denomination, Craddock’s ability to weave a narrative is absolutely unrivaled. For preachers, this sermon is a master class in inductive preaching. In an interview with Ministry Magazine, Craddock argues in favor of inductive preaching, saying that only preaching with a deductive method “… means you leave your listeners in that pitiful box of having only two alter natives of agreeing or disagreeing with you. It is all your work. It is all packaged and delivered and that is it. So you get to say, “I agree with you,” or “I don’t agree with you.” But in inductive preaching, you unroll your idea in such a way that listeners have to work to get it themselves. I think it is a compliment to preaching when listeners don’t quite know whether they thought it themselves or got it from something the preacher said!”
In inductive preaching, the preacher asks one question and through rhetorical devices, narrative, and storytelling to lead listeners to a certain conclusion. Craddock does suggest that preachers who are new to induction begin with inductive methods and then conclude deductively, so that they don’t unintentionally lead people to the wrong conclusion. But this post isn’t to explain induction or doctrine or anything else. It’s merely to share an incredible example of inductive preaching done to perfection. You can see that below, from Dr. Craddock’s 1986 Mullins lecture at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
In April 2012, Dr. Robert Smith, Jr. gave the E.Y. Mullins Lectures on Christian Preaching at Southern Seminary. His title for the series was “Preaching as Intra-Trinitarian Presence.”
For over 20 years, Dr. Smith has been training preachers at Beeson Divinity School** with the core conviction that the aim of Christian preaching is for the hearers to experience God and see who He is in the Scriptures as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He says in his book on preaching, Doctrine That Dances, “…doctrinal preaching is the escorting of the hearers into the presence of God for the purpose of transformation.”
In these three lectures, Smith holds forth on Trinitarian preaching and encourages preachers to recover the art of preaching from the whole Bible. Preachers should “dust for Christological fingerprints” in every text of Scripture.
There are three lectures total:
God of Our Weary Years – Theocentricity
Theology of the HIMbook – Christocentricity
The Neglected God – Pneumacentricity
I hope that these lectures will aid you as you seek to preach all of God from all of the Bible: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
* * I am blessed to have been one of those preaching students at Beeson, and to have a close mentoring relationship with Dr. Smith to this day. Perhaps the greatest compliment that I can give is to say that Dr. Smith’s character far exceeds his talent. Once you’ve seen his talent, that will mean a great deal to you.
Sometimes you just need to hear a great sermon. You may have come to this page through a google search. Maybe you’re a pastor looking to learn from great preaching. Maybe you’re a pastor just tired and in need of the word to be ministered to you. Maybe you’re lost and looking for truth.
I hope you find these sermons encouraging. In my opinion, each of them is an absolutely masterful sermon, given by godly men whom I admire. I hope you are encouraged by them all, not because the preachers are great, but because God’s Word is great.
I have listed them below, in no particular order. Each are wonderful in their own way.
The Glory of the Groan by Dr. Robert Smith, Jr. at Beeson Divinity School
The Gospel by Numbers by Dr. Ligon Duncan at Together For the Gospel
For Such A Slime As This by Dr. Hershael York at Southern Seminary
Shall We Die As A Fool Dies by Dr. R. Albert Mohler at Southern Seminary
How Are Christians Special? by Dr. Mark Dever at Southeastern Seminary
The Glory of the Groan by Dr. Robert Smith, Jr.
The Gospel by Numbers by Dr. Ligon Duncan
For Such A Slime As This by Dr. Hershael York
Shall We Die as a Fool Dies? by Dr. R. Albert Mohler
How Are Christians Special? by Dr. Mark Dever
Let me know in the comments if one of these sermons encouraged you in your walk with Christ!
This past spring I was honored to interview Dr. Robert Smith, Jr. for a Library Talk at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Smith has been a mentor of mine for nearly 10 years, since we first met on the campus of Southern Seminary in 2012.
Those who have heard him preach before can not help but be moved by his powerful oratory and commitment to the word of God and the gospel. I often tell people, though, that’s he’s even better off stage. I can think of no man I respect more in the world.
I hope this conversation with Dr. Smith benefits and encourages preachers who hear it. In the course of this conversation we discuss sermon preparation, trinitarian preaching, God’s work in the preaching moment, the use of scripture in preaching, suffering in the ministry, and more.