The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper; 1990, 119 pp. Baker Book House, $6.95 Reviewed by Thomas Ascol
John Piper, senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, has a well-deserved reputation of being an excellent writer who is able to treat weighty theological subjects in practical, devotional way. His Desiring God and The Pleasures of God demonstrate not only the relevance but also the absolute necessity of good theology for vibrant, spiritual discipleship. Christians need to think rightly in order to believe and live rightly and one great reason for the modern plague of shallow Christianity is the failure to think deeply about biblical truth.
Searching out the sources of this atheological Zeitgeist will inevitably, at some point, expose the superficiality of much modern preaching. It is this crisis in the pulpit that The Supremacy of God in Preaching addresses. This book, however, is not a critique. Rather, it is a positive effort to demonstrate that the one great burden of biblical preaching is to declare God in all of His glory and greatness.
To preach the supremacy of God means “that the dominant note of preaching be the freedom of God’s sovereign grace, the unifying theme be the zeal that God has for His own glory, the grand object of preaching be the infinite and inexhaustible being of God and the pervasive atmosphere of preaching be the holiness of God” (20).
After establishing his main thesis (with special consideration given to the place of the cross and the role of the Spirit), Piper spends the second half of the book using the life, theology and preaching of Jonathan Edwards as paradigms from which to draw many specific, practical guidelines for modern preachers.
This book, which grew out of the 1988 Harold J. Ockenga Lectures on Preaching at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary and the 1984 Billy Graham Center Lectures on Preaching at Wheaton College, was voted “Book of the Year” by Preaching Magazine. Piper has done a great service to evangelicals with this small book. It ought to be read by everyone whose responsibility it is to preach.