Keep On Keepin’ On

We’ve had a renaming discussion before, but this hilarious cartoon (HT NWBingham) reminded me I’ve wanted to kick off another:

I sent this cartoon to my pastor, and he replied that he has actually encountered this inside-out view of preaching. Fortunately, classic Reformed preaching is protected from this problem by the historic tradition of Lectio Continua (Continuous Reading), the practice of preaching sermon series’ through entire books of the bible. This practice brings the obvious benefits of avoiding hobby-horses, bringing more of God’s word to God’s people than the minister might know needs to be brought, taking the bible on its own terms, letting it speak for itself, rather than slicing and dicing it into the containers we find easier for whatever reason.

So the only problem with this historic Reformed style of preaching, I’ve decided, is the name. Most people don’t even know this term. I often hear this philosophy of preaching described as “Expositional,” but that doesn’t quite get it. Yes, every sermon should exposit the text, but that says nothing about how the texts should relate week-to-week. And the latin Lectio Continua doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

So I hereby open the floor for your suggestions of a better handle with which we Reformed can market our superior form of preaching (as well as any horror stories in the other direction).

This entry was posted in Compare and Confess, Ecclesiology, History, Humor, Protestant preaching, Protestant slogans, Reformed Confessionalism, Reformed piety, Some fun, The Protestant Reformation, Worship. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Keep On Keepin’ On

  1. Echo_ohcE says:

    People more quickly understand when you say that the pastor is “preaching through” a book of the Bible.

    While lectio continua is very helpful, it doesn’t guard against the things you mention all by itself of course. After all, anyone can practice eisogesis and read their hobby horses into the text. An Arminian can (theoretically) preach through Rom 9 and simply explain it away (though I have never seen an example of this and I have no doubt that the results would be disastrous). I have heard Arminians say things like, “Anyone who claims to understand everything the Bible says is arrogant…” so they can just say that proper piety and humility means saying that you have no idea what the very clear, very plain language of Rom 9 means. Who knows.

  2. John says:

    Interesting, I have experienced what Echo says above – a lectio continua in which every sermon is a lesson on the speaker’s pet hobby. Is there a term for preaching that is both continuous and expositional? How ’bout “Reformed Preaching”?

  3. Echo_ohcE says:


  4. RubeRad says:

    Yes, I don’t think the term exists, and that’s what I’m looking for. “Reformed Preaching” is accurate, but not descriptive enough to be self-contained. Exegetical is a good thing, but like Expositional, it doesn’t capture the “continua” aspect.

    I do agree, though, that Lectio Continua is not a guarantee against all those problems, but merely a protection. Sinful man can find a way to abuse and corrupt anything.

  5. David R. says:

    True. For example, Calvary Chapels are known for preaching through the Bible book by book:

    “Now, I believe that I can say to the people at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, “I have declared unto you the whole counsel of God,” because we have taken them from Genesis to Revelation seven times. We’re currently beginning the eighth round. We don’t skip anything. And that’s why in the majority of the Calvary Chapels, and the most successful ones, you’ll find the systematic teaching of the entire Word of God, going through the Bible from cover to cover”

    —Chuck Smith, in Calvary Chapel Distinctives

  6. RubeRad says:

    Interesting. I didn’t know that about CC. “seven times” — what does that mean? Does papa Chuck maintain a lectionary for all his undersheperds? And how can they get through the whole bible seven times? My pastor’s goal is to make it through the entire bible once across his entire career.

  7. David R. says:

    It does seem amazing that he could preach through the Bible that many times. I just checked, and CC was founded in ’65 and the Distinctives booklet was published in 2000, so he had 35 years to do it. But still, preaching through the Bible in five years seems awful quick. I do think they handle pretty big chunks of text each week. And I recall from years ago, when I used to listen to other CC guys on they radio, that they did the same thing. Here’s their booklet (the stuff on preaching starts on page 61):

  8. David R. says:

    Sorry, that should be “page 51” (where the stuff on preaching starts)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thx for that. You know, most of that could have come right out of our mouths too. Good for them. It is unfortunate that they manage to still twist the whole bible into Dispensationalism. I guess hermeneutic is not for nothing.

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