Biblical Preaching in the Reformed Tradition

Date Published

February 22, 2024

Home / Blog / Biblical Preaching in the Reformed Tradition

Published by Scott Hoezee

Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching

In my contribution to a forthcoming volume highlighting the Reformed nature of instruction at Calvin Theological Seminary, I will focus on the teaching of preaching. Like many seminaries, so at CTS the nature of homiletical instruction has changed over time. For a long time the focus was on what can be termed “deductive preaching” that yielded sermons that were somewhat propositional in nature and that fit into the model of what many call three-point sermons. Some may even recall the homiletical method of Samuel Volbeda who taught preaching from the mid-1920s until about 1952 and who instructed his students to use the “Its” method. Whatever the subject at hand was in a given sermon, the preacher would present Its Meaning, Its Application, Its Nature, Its Value etc.

In more recent decades CTS, like most of the homiletical world, has shifted to more “inductive preaching” methods that weave in more narrative elements in sermons that appeal to shared experiences. The “Four Pages” method introduced by John Rottman in 2004 is an example of this style of preaching in which preachers lift out of the passage both Trouble and Grace and seek to illustrate both through vivid stories and portraits drawn from everyday life. In a time where many especially younger people value authenticity in a preacher as much as anything, inductive preaching shows that the pastor is in touch with real life in all its nitty-gritty, but also sometimes lyric details.

But what has never changed at CTS is a dedication to deeply biblical preaching. At the center of every sermon, a well-exegeted Bible passage must control everything else in the message. Although CTS has never much used the term “expository preaching,” there is a sense that this is what has traditionally been taught. Sermons “expose” the true meaning of Scripture. Preachers are first and foremost students of God’s Word, bringing all of their hermeneutical tools to the interpretive task every week.  

As former CTS President Neal Plantinga likes to say, preaching God’s Word should be “eventful.” When the preacher is true to God’s Word and when the Holy Spirit is blowing in the sanctuary, we can expect wonderful things to happen in preaching. And by God’s grace, exactly this happens every Sunday!


Visit Calvin Theological Seminary’s Campus

We can’t wait to host you on campus! Schedule your visit today, or, if you need more time to find a date that works for you, please request information so we can continue the conversation about supporting your calling!