Aug 26, 2013

An Interview with Dr. Dennis Johnson on the Nature and Role of Preaching

2 Min Read

When the apostle Peter preached his sermon during the feast of Pentecost, some three thousand souls were saved and added to the church. It is amazing to consider, however, that most of those pilgrims had likely already arrived at Jerusalem to witness the historical crucifixion of Christ during Passover. None had understood the significance of the cross through their eyes. But when the gospel was explained and proclaimed through the Spirit of the resurrected Christ, this same audience was cut to the heart, repentant, converted—the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation. Even as God once created the world through his word, the rest of the narrative in the book of Acts demonstrates that He creates the church through his word as well, the growth of the church being marked by the phrase "the word of God grew" (see Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20). Peter himself would later write that Christians are given birth through the incorruptible seed of the word of God, adding the admonishment that we should, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of this word that we might grow thereby (1 Pet. 1:23-2:3). In other words, spiritual birth and maturity both require the word of God.

These reflections underscore the primacy of preaching as the "chief means" of grace in the life of the church, and help to explain why the Ligonier Academy Doctor of Ministry program includes a course on Preaching, even for seasoned pastors. Dr. Dennis E. Johnson, Professor of Practical Theology for Westminster Seminary in California, recently visited us here in central Florida to teach this intensive week-long course on preaching for our D.Min. program. Dr. Johnson and I had the opportunity to discuss the nature and role of preaching in the studio, and we offer that interview to you here.


  • What is the place of preaching in the life of the church? (0:57)
  • Are many pastors, even those with divinity degrees, inadequately prepared for the task of preaching? (1:50)
  • Is the practical side of delivering a sermon something that can be taught, is it a gift one is born with, or is there a balance between the two? (3:05)
  • What is "preaching"? (4:00)
  • What is the difference between preaching and teaching? (5:05)
  • What is the major weakness in preaching today? (6:55)
  • How should preaching include a demonstration, an argument from Scripture? (8:30)
  • How might the lack of urgency in preaching be related to either a hyper-calvinism, or a sense of professionalism from the pastor? (13:11)
  • What is your approach to preaching? (17:32)
  • What is the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching? (22:03)

The preaching course description from our catalog is as follows:

DM805 Preaching

A study of the Reformed view of the preaching of the Word of God. This course will look not only at the basic Reformed philosophy of preaching but also at historical examples of Reformed preaching. Particular attention will be given to the importance of expository preaching that focuses on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this course is to provide the student with an understanding of the absolute necessity of biblical, God-centered preaching.

Click here if you would like more information on Ligonier Academy's D.Min. program.