Faculty Publications_Summer 2016
Published by Calvin Seminary
Scott Hoezee, director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Seminary, has played a key role in offering another invaluable resource for preachers through serving as the editor for The Abingdon Preaching Annual (2017). The Abingdon Preaching Annual offers a unique resource to preachers: rather than offering a manual for producing sermons, or exegetical commentary on Scripture, the Annual is designed to spark the preacher’s imagination and insight on the text. The heart of the book is lectionary sermon and worship aids. Based upon the lectionary schedule, the Annual offers reflections and prayers for the lectionary schedule each week. Each reflection begins with a “preaching theme” that seems to emerge most strongly from the lectionary readings. This theme, while clearly based in sound exegesis of the lectionary texts, is broad enough to spark the preacher’s imagination and point the way towards any number of sermons. The weekly reflection also includes a secondary preaching theme that heads in a different direction of thought, often based on a lectionary text that seems to convey a different theme than the other lectionary texts. Mixed in are various opening prayers, prayers of the people, and closing prayers.
The weekly reflections are nourishing in and of themselves, and provide a treasure of insight and encouragement to pastors. One could easily envision this text becoming a regular part of any person’s devotional life. A scripture index in the back allows pastors who do not follow a lectionary schedule in their churches to quickly see if a text they are interested in preaching on is discussed in the book. Other resources include helpful excerpts from recent, critically acclaimed books on preaching, and eight sample sermons by gifted preachers. This year’s Annual offers a compelling and creative way to ease the burdens and pressures pastors feel in producing fresh sermons each week, and open the door to hearing a fresh voice from the Spirit.
As part of The Church at Worship series, Karin Maag’s Lifting Hearts to the Lord: Worship with John Calvin in Sixteenth-Century Geneva offers a fascinating window into sixteenth century Geneva. Dr. Maag, director of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies and professor of history at Calvin College, is an ideal guide to opening up this key period in church history. Composed primarily of a wide range of primary sources, from sermons to church polity documents to anti-Protestant rhetoric, Dr. Maag makes the work accessible and applicable through helpful historical commentary and images contextualizing these texts. A chapter entitled “Suggestions for Devotional Use” offers helpful suggestions for ways to incorporate life-giving elements of sixteenth century Genevan liturgy and worship practice into modern daily life as well as questions to both challenge and affirm contributions of Calvin’s Geneva to contemporary worship.
Calvin P. Van Reken, who is finishing his final year as Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Seminary this year, has offered up an important work on metaethics (the study of moral language, moral ontology, and more epistemology). In Principia MetaEthica, Dr. Van Reken approaches metaethics primary from the angle of moral ontology and epistemology. The book is both an accessible and rigorous scholarly defense of the classical position of moral realism. Moral realism, the concept that there is a universal moral order that human beings must strive to discover, is both basic and foundational to a sound metaethic, but remains suspect in the wake of postmodernism. Dr. Van Reken is to be commended for an important contribution to the field that offers a sound defense of moral realism but on solid philosophical grounds that do not depend on any particular religious framework. This work will be of interest to philosophers, thinkers, and any believer interested in winsomely engaging a postmodern world.
Michael Williams, professor of Old Testament at Calvin Seminary, has provided a helpful Hebrew
reference guide for preachers and lay persons whose knowledge of Hebrew is limited. Designed to be used with the most popular Bible software programs on the market (BibleWorks, Logos, and Accordance), the book defines and explains the grammatical terms the software identifies in the Hebrew text. For someone who has never taken Hebrew, this guide provides an easy way to quickly understand the significance of the terms the software points out, without needing to learn the language. For someone who has learned Hebrew but has failed to make it a regular part of their study of the Old Testament, the guide offers a quick refresher on the key terminology as well as a reminder of how significant understanding Hebrew is for our interpretations of the Old Testament. One key way the book keeps a focus on the significance of Hebrew is through insightful “exegetical insights” after each term, which open up the impact understanding these terms has on our understanding of the Old Testament. For lay persons or persons whose knowledge of Hebrew has grown rusty over the years, Williams’ book helps open up the Hebrew text, and may spark regained interest in Hebrew becoming a more regular part of the pastor’s study practices.
By Monica Brands
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