Review of “The Priority of Preaching”

June 5, 2012

The Priority of Preaching
©2009 by Christopher Ash
Published by Christian Focus Publications
125 pages

I picked up this small book because I had so thoroughly enjoyed another of the author’s works Listen Up! A practical guide to listening to sermons. I am so glad I did. This is one of the best books on preaching that I have read in a long time. Christopher Ash works for The Proclamation Trust as Director of the Cornhill Training Course, a one or two year course designed to train preachers and Bible teachers in Great Britain. This book is unique, it is a book about local New Testament church preaching but based upon the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. “I have chosen Deuteronomy because it seems to me that Deuteronomy gives us God’s mandate for preaching. It’s a curious book, in some ways, because nothing really happens in it” (p. 21). “Deuteronomy is the mandate for the people of God to assemble under the preached word of God, or to be more accurate, the written word preached. This is why Deuteronomy is not really a law book, but a preaching book” (p. 23).

The three chapters of this book were originally presented by the author at a pastor’s convention in 2008. He produced them in book form “for ordinary ministers who preach regularly to ordinary people in ordinary places, who may dream of being world-renowned but are going to be spared that fate” (p. 12).

The focus of chapter one is authority. Using Deuteronomy 18 as a basis, Ash concludes that the preacher’s authority is a “borrowed authority” in which God speaks to us by the voice of a man. He unfolds his argument by showing that Moses was the first of many prophets whose revelatory role would ultimately be fulfilled in Christ. Since Christ is ascended, preachers continue the proclamatory work of the prophets. Along the way, Ash has some very insightful comments to make about the shortcomings of Bible Study Groups and how to overcome these failings.

The emphasis of chapter two is urgency, passion and engagement. Examining Deuteronomy 30, he asserts that preaching transforms the church. God’s people are transformed by the preached word of God (p. 46). True preaching isn’t a monologue. The preacher is to be answering the “silent questions” of his listeners as he engages the text. The preacher should be so thoroughly consumed with his text that he “ought to be able to continue his sermon without his notes if necessary” (p. 68).

In chapter three he turns his attention to the local church assembly. Applying Deuteronomy 4, he explains how preaching and assembling are related. He lays out why Christian ought not to forsake assembling together, starting at Sinai and ending at Zion.
The local church is a foreshadowing of when all believers are united around the throne.
Only the preached word of grace in Jesus Christ (p. 98) can truly mend a world broken by racial, cultural and economic divisions.

Don’t allow the size of this book convince you that it doesn’t have much to offer. This reviewer has barely scratched the surface. Preachers of the Word need the edification this book provides.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: