Tony Merida's Faithful Preaching

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One of the great blessings of moving to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has been gaining the friendship of Tony Merida, teaching pastor at Temple Baptist Church. As we've had lunch every other week or so since I got here in late June and as we've prayed together (through the "Dead Preachers" Society we've started), I've come to be very thankful that the Lord led him up to Hattiesburg from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served as dean of the chapel and assistant professor of preaching, and led me down from Covenant Theological Seminary. 

Those who read his new book, Faithful Preaching: Declaring Scripture with Responsibility, Passion, and Authenticity, can understand why I'm so thankful. Here is the heart of a minister who longs to be used by God in his generation and longs for others to join him in this journey. As I read this book over the past couple of days, I found that I couldn't put it down. It rings with the note of authenticity--here is a man who is not just talking about preaching for God's glory, but whose passion for God's glory is infectious. I finished the book longing to be the faithful preacher which Merida describes.

The book has a number of real strengths. One is that this has to be one of the most clearly written books that I've read in a number of years; Strunk and White would be proud. Merida carries the reader through the book with helpful transitions and enumerations that enable one to engage the content without getting lost. In addition, this book would serve as an excellent text book for homiletics classes at seminaries. Particularly part two, in which Merida lays out a five-step process for sermon preparation, will serve seminary instruction well.

But the great strength of the book is found in parts one and three. In part one, Merida lays out a Trinitarian framework for the preaching task. As those called to preach God's Word, we preach to God's glory as we declare Christ from all the Scriptures in the power of the Holy Spirit. In my own reading, this emphasis is somewhat unique and, as someone who has spent a great deal of time thinking and teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity, I found it a refreshing focus. The God we name is Father, Son, Spirit; and if our worship (and that act of worship called preaching) doesn't reflect this, we are functional unitarians, no matter our doctrinal position.

In part three, Merida urges preachers to focus on their lives and doctrine. Following Paul in 1 Timothy 4, he urges us as ministers to train ourselves to godliness and so bear the marks of being a man of God in love with the God who has called us to this task. I found my spiritual appetite awakened with love for the Savior through these chapters. They were gold. 

While the (former) academic in me would want write something like, "I foresee a broad usefulness for this book in ministry and classroom settings," really this book deserves a higher commendation. Faithful Preaching finds its greatest value in stimulating love for God in Christ by the Spirit and creating a desire to be spent in the service of this glorious being. Too few books do that for ministers; and that's why we ought to read and re-read this book.
Posted October 16, 2009 @ 11:22 AM by Sean Lucas
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