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Remember that Friends episode, in which Chewbacca, Hamlet, and Frodo . . .

The following passage stands out against so much of today’s preaching. Were he alive today, it is unlikely that George Whitefield would be making clever Star Wars references. God’s word was enough.

Even a casual reader will quickly discover just how soaked in the Bible this preacher was. It was once said that John Bunyan’s blood was bibline, and it is clear that Whitefield shared this happy but uncommon condition, dropping allusions and quotations from all over the Bible into his preaching with great frequency. Some of these references are so obscure that it is unlikely many in the original audience understood them, even making allowances for higher standards of biblical literacy in those days. Why did Whitefield do this? One reason may be that scriptural allusions usually suggested themselves to him as most apposite first, before any illustrations taken out of popular culture or literature (though he is perfectly able to make such references where he feels it is appropriate). It may also be a function of the high regard in which he held the word of God. He believed in the power of the word to do God’s work, so that even a less well-known passage of the Bible may be used to awaken a dead sinner or prod a sleepy Christian or pique the curiosity of an onlooker.

—Lee Gatiss, The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 40–41.

Who follows this example today? John MacArthur comes to mind. I recall him once indicating that this was intentional, that he wanted his sermons to be relevant and understandable at any time and in any zip code—and so, I believe, they will be. Let the preacher understand.

Posted 2018·10·25 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Church History · George Whitefield · Preaching · The Sermons of George Whitefield

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