Recapturing the Voice of God: Shaping Sermons Like Scripture. By Steven W. Smith. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2015. 240 pp. $24.99, Paperback. ISBN 978-1-4336-8250-6.
Steven W. Smith, current Vice President for Student Services and Communications at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has challenged the primary notion of what people consider expository preaching. According to Smith, expository, or text-driven, preaching “is not a style but a theologically driven philosophy of preaching whose purpose is to get as close to the text as possible” (1). Sermons are simply a “re-presentation of what God has already presented” (3). In order to accomplish this, Smith argues that preachers should pay attention to the genre.
Chapter one highlights the deficiency of the typical “one size fits all” structure of a sermon. The structure of the text shapes the structure of the sermon (8). The task of the preacher is to “re-present what God has said” and the end of preaching is “to sound like God’s Word” (10). This leads to his point in chapter two, namely that the secret to great preaching is simply staying at the text until its meaning is clear (17), because it is the pastor’s responsibility to explain the Scripture to the congregation (22–25).
In chapter three Smith helpfully guides the reader through the basics of genre and forces the preacher to understand the influence of genre. He argues that genre is both situational and moving. Smith convincingly argues that if the preacher views the genre as arbitrary the communication of the text will be flat. The preacher must remember that the exegetical work is done by “mining the life that is already embedded in the text” (32), thereby relinquishing the temptation of presenting the sermon as either flat or static. Continue reading