SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. (BNC) — After Father’s Day this year, gospel preacher Paul Holland began preaching some of his father’s sermons in his honor.

Paul pulled out a random number of his dad’s sermons and analyzed them. He made these observations.

Assuming these lessons are representative, what can we say? First, Dad’s lessons were eminently practical. He tried very hard to give people in the pew something to do in response to Christ. Second, while Dad avoided in-depth doctrinal studies in his sermons (like the atonement; he reserved those for Bible class), he tied most lessons into the Christ on the cross. Third, Dad was evangelistic at heart. He wanted souls to come to Jesus whom he loved and preached. Fourth, Dad’s lessons were weighted heavily on thematic studies rather than expository studies (as I prefer). Fifth, Dad’s lessons were largely optimistic with few lessons that could be considered “brow beating.”

Paul’s dad left a lucrative career to preach. He worked with small congregations. Paul inherited his dad’s sermons.

“Many (about half) of these sermons are hand-written. Dad never owned a computer while he was a full-time preacher,” Paul wrote.

It has become fashionable within the last two decades to criticize that generation of older preachers. I’m currently reading a book, published in 1990, which does just that. They looked at the Bible “too scientifically,” or they didn’t preach about the cross, or they didn’t preach about the atonement or they didn’t preach about grace. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Paul said he’d never preach most of his dad’s sermons, only because they don’t fit his style. While his dad used mostly a topical approach, that doesn’t mean he disrespected the biblical context.

While Dad filled his lessons with Scripture, this does not mean he quoted those Scriptures out of context. The apostle Paul strung together Scriptures in order to prove his point but when you study their Old Testament context, you see that he was very cognizant of their original context. The same would be true of Dad and that generation of preachers.

Paul takes modern church critics to task.

“The older generation of preachers do not deserve the modern generation’s condescending attitude or contempt,” he wrote. “It seems to me the collective memory of these critics is decidedly incomplete. Every generation has the obligation to go back to the Scriptures and study and learn the sacred truths for itself.”

The critics also forget an important truth.

“Also, let us be thankful that there is a current generation of Christians because my Dad’s generation studied the Word, loved the Word, taught  the Word and lived that Word. May we follow their example!” Paul reminds us.

Paul’s article was published in his “Daily Droplets” devotional, which can be read in its entirety here.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us

8 thoughts on “‘Older generation of preachers don’t deserve modern contempt.’ Son analyzes dad’s sermons

  1. While it is true that some of the “preachers of the older generation” tended toward “hobbyhorse preaching,” it is NO DIFFERENT TODAY! (Of some.) Every generation WILL have some of those. I was converted from the world by people of the generation in question. They LOVED THE LORD and His cause! They LOVED SOULS and grieved over the lost. They wanted the church to continue into future generations. Personally, I read any “previous generation” sermons I can obtain. I have gained a great appreciation for the zeal and dedication of those folks. As brother Holland has rightly said–many are Christians today because of the efforts of that generation. I remember a time when preachers FILLED their sermons with scripture. Sadly, I’ve listened to some “enlightened” younger men who quote or paraphrase one or two verses and proceed to substantiate their points with secular quotes and illustrations. May we always strive to go back to the Word of God. May we study it, live it and preach it so we can draw others to the Christ Who died for us! (And while we are at it, it is OK to critique our brethren–I fear that some who critique the “older generation” stress the faults to the point of neglecting that they ARE our brethren in Christ…) Brother Holland honors his dad by sharing this information with us. (I don’t know the Hollands, by the way.)

  2. To get a good picture at what brother Holland was talking about, just go into a religious bookstore that provide materials mainly for churches of Christ. Almost all the commentaries, debates. sermon outlines, lectureships, and other reference material that may of us purchased in the past are no longer being sold. Many of these are out of print and have been for a long time. Others are being kept in print for the most part by our anti-brethren. I don’t blame the bookstores. Printing is expensive and sadly they just don’t have any calls for those older works. There was a time when you could find dozens of books on the restoration movement. Today you can hardly find anything. It might be a good question to ask you readers at this time, “How long has it been since you heard a sermon on church history such as ‘The Establishment of the Church the Falling Away and the Restoration’?” I’m not even sure we have that many preachers today who could even handle that subject.

  3. Personally, I trust the old time preachers the most because they didn’t go off to non-Christian colleges and get indoctrinated to think “this” is what God’s word meant. They studied on their own and put the puzzle together and worked hard to teach the truth. I have always wondered why it became so important for those in the church who have learned the truth, why they would want to go to some Lutheran or Baptist or whatever college to further their degree. That degree means nothing when it leads you from the church and into denominationalism, just so you can make more money or have some fancy title and it has really spoiled the preaching of the truth in the church today. I was baptized back in 1958 and have seen many sad changes like this with many of my friends now straying into denominational teaching and worship. Breaks my heart.

  4. Sadly, I’ve run into a number of current preachers who’s hobby horse is degrading our parents and grandparents generation. Basically, in their view, our parents were always wrong, and even when they were right, they were still wrong. Sadly it seems to be the conceit of some folk in every generation to think that no one knew truth or beauty or what was cool until they came along.

  5. I AM ONE WHO WAS CONVERTED IN THE EARLEY 70S BY ONE OF THOSE OLD FASHION PREACHER.AND THANKS TO THAT STYLE OF PREACHING I BECAME A CHRISTIAN.BEFORE THAT I WAS A GOD FEARING YOUNG LAD WHO ATTEND THE METHODIST CHURCH. I CONSIDERED MYSELF A GOOD PERSON AND GO TO CHURCH REGULARLY.I. CAN REMEMBER HAVING A BIBLE IN MY HAND , BUT I HONESTLY COULDNT REMEMBER OPENING IT IN CHURCH, IT WAS JUST A BOOK IN MY HAND TO SAY I AM GOING TO CHURCH. WHEN I WAS INVITED TO THE C.OF.C BY MY BEST FRIEND. IT WAS VERY DIFFERENT, RATHER THAN JUST SIT AND LISTEN. I WAS INVITED TO OPEN MY BIBLE AND READ. BY THE THEN PREACHER ,HE WAS FROM THE USA HIS NAME WAS BOB BROWN, IT WAS THEN I ACTUALLY START SEEING THINGS THAT I HAD TO DO RATHER THAN JUST BEING GOOD, AND THANKS TO QUOTEING OF SCRIPTURES AND AND THOSE STEPS OF SALVATION. EXTENDED AT THEE END OF EACH MESSAGE. I RESPONDED TO THE INVITATION AND WAS BAPTISED.SOMETHING I KNOW I HAD TO DO NOT BECAUSE HE SAID IT BUT BECAUSE I READ ABOUT IT.I THINK THE LAST I HEARD OF BRO. BOB HE WAS SOMEWHERE IN COLARADO. I DO HOPE HE CONT.IN THE OLD FASHION WAY.I DO NOT KNOW WHY PEOPLE ARE SO WORRIED ABOUT DIRECT QUOTATION;:BOOK CHAPTER AND VERSE;;ARE THEY WORRIED ABOUT SEEING THE TRUTH AND BEIGN CONVICTED. MORDEN PREACHERS HAVE THEIR PLACE TODAY BUT, BUT WE SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE OR BELITTLE THE WONDERFUL OLD FASHION PREACHERS, WHO PREACHTHE GREAT MESSAGE DIRECT FROM THE GOOD BOOK… THAT IS BOOK, CHAPTER AND VERSE… THANK YOU BOB BROWN AND THE GOOD OLD FASHION PREACHERS, WHO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL MESSAGE, STRAIGHT FORWARD AND CLEAR, FOR ALL TO UNDERSTAND. GOD BLESS AMEN

  6. Thank you for this article. Being a brother of Paul and a son of the same father mentioned, it is good to hear that there is appreciation to what was done before our generation. The Word was spread zealously by that generation and grounded in truth. Of course there were some that strayed from sound doctrine as there are many who stray today. May we all seek the Will of God through study of the truth and apply that knowledge and understanding to our lives. I am reminded of the words from Psalm 19:14 that dad most often paraphrased at the closing of his prayers, “‘Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer’ it is in Jesus name we pray, amen.” And Amen.
    TJH

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