Sunday, 28 July 2013



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One theme that comes up again and again in some so called Fundamentalist tweets (usually before, during and after their conferences) is the theme of “red hot preaching” which can often be confused with shoutin’ and hollerin’ If you want to hear shoutin and hollerin’ and see bucket loads of sweat and thick spittle flood the pulpit desk and altar floor and up the aisles too (I exaggerate, but only just…) then look at the links at the bottom after you’ve read my post. Just move the marker in a fair bit after the sermon has started and you’ll be fine.

What exactly is “red hot preaching”? I assume that it is preaching against sin or perceived sin using strong language, but stopping short of swearing.  It is preaching the way Billy Sunday the Presbyterian evangelist used to do against booze.  (FTR: I generally like old Sunday. I read a book of his sermons years ago.) It is naming sins and abandoning the fine English of the 1611 Authorised Version to use gutsy language while generally thumping the pulpit.

Sometimes, the preacher is encouraged to “bring the roof down” which (as I type) reminds me of Samson. Not sure, if that is the wisest thing to ask for, especially if you intend to be there. Other buzz words are employed. Another preacher from this stable tells us that if our sides aren’t aching after a sermon, then we haven’t really preached. The opposite to such “red hot preaching,” BTW, is supposedly “Dead Church” which is an obvious “no-no” and so, we are effectively tied into this shoutin and hollerin and pulpit banging etc.

Old John Knox, the Scottish Calvinist Reformer, used to “ding the pulpit to blads” which to those illiterate in the Scots leid simply means that he thumped his pulpit so much as he preached that it either fell apart or large bits broke off. OK. I’ll take that on board, along with the fact that Spurgeon referred to it and seemed to agree with it. Fair enough. Knox was an angry red blooded Scots man literally at war with the Popish Queen Mary who was a “devout Roman Catholic” (to be politically correct as I roll my eyes) and her Spanish co-religionists. Knox ended up as a galley slave on a Spanish ship for a while, so he had a sharp axe to grind.  

However, we must ask: So what if John Knox could shout and roar with the rest of them? Can you name me anyone else at that time who did it? To be honest, I would rather read his sermons (all good stuff) than hear him preach, although it would be nice to have a recording too. Did Luther shout and roar? Did John Calvin? Spurgeon, for all his admiration of Knox, didn’t. Neither did Tozer who observed that his faithful, penetrating preaching barred him from every Conference platform in America.

What if they did shout and roar? They are not the ultimate standard. The ultimate standard is the Bible and (I suppose) the NT in particular. Allowing for the fact that words like “red hot preachin’” are probably relatively new, yet where do we see their like in the inspired records?  OK, Isaiah was told to lift up his voice like a trumpet and the thought of the watchman doesn’t allow much room for dignified, carefully thought out sentences. But I don’t think even those fearless prophets who were sent to apostate Israel or Judea shouted and roared for hours and got hoarse and lost their voice. I refer you again to the links beneath.

Here’s another thought. Not every one needs “red hot sermons” denouncing real or imaginary sins. Sometimes hurting people need to hear the still small voice as opposed to the whirlwind.  Bringing the house down or hitting it out of the park seems to appeal more to the sensation seekers rather than the saints.

Of course, it is not a matter of either/or. Sometimes, it calls for the strong “No Surrender” stuff. But (I guess) that the vast majority of the times, the saints (likened unto sheep, as well as soldiers) just need to be quietly fed. The Good Shepherd in Psalm 23 led them besides the still waters. I don’t think he roared until his sides ached to do so.

Although I am a Calvinist, I still manage to be an admirer of old John Wesley. Wesley saw revival on a big scale. He was the quintessential Englishman with the stiff upper lip etc., but he had the heart of a lion and often faced down angry and violent mobs as he preached all over the British Isles.  Listen to his advice to a budding preacher:

"Scream no more, at the peril of your soul. God now warns you by me, whom he has set over you. Speak as earnestly as you can; but do not scream. Speak with all your heart; but with a moderate voice. It was said of our Lord, “He shall not cry:” The word properly means, He shall not scream. Herein be a follower of me, as I am of Christ. I often speak loud; often vehemently; but I never scream; I never strain myself. I dare not: I know it would be a sin against God and my own soul. Perhaps one reason why that good man, Thomas Walsh, yea, and John Manners too, were in such grievous darkness before they died, was, because they shortened their own lives."(Vol 12 Wesley’s Works)


Oh yes...those promised videos:





  1. I loved this entry.

  2. Thanks for passing by. Just a few thoughts along the road...

  3. Not sure whether the Baptist evangelist, Billy Ingram, actually read this post, but I woke this morning to this general tweet:

    @evangelistbilly "Preach not calmly and quietly as though you were asleep, but preach with fire and pathos and passion." Spurgeon

    Does this change anything written above? There is (as far as I can see) no record from the various bios that CHS was noted for shoutin' and hollerin' and having to wipe subsequent sweat and spittle from his face etc. Preaching with "fire and pathos and passion" is not the same as screaming. John Wesley (quoted in the main article) said: "I often speak loud; often vehemently; but I never scream..." so if Ingram is trying to overthrow the thrust of the article with the Spurgeon quote, then he fails.

    Spurgeon didn't say "Preach not calmly and quietly..." for we cannot imagine that he never did so himself. What he did say though was to cease to doing these things " though you were asleep." No one wants to listen to a mere drone reading a well prepared essay and boring every one to death. That is taken for granted.

    The thrust of the above article is not merely about the circus type theatrics which often passes as "red hot preaching" and attributed to be the reason why "God stepped into the church last night" etc. Part of the thrust was pastoral in content i.e. sometimes the saints need the still small voice of comfort rather than a constant diet of so called "red hot preaching" that sets the Hooray Henry's off on a constant barrage of shoutin and whoopin and what have you. If you set off to "shout your preacher down" - why should he bother studying the scriptures and taking time to prepare a message at all?

    Maybe, I "just don't understand the south" or #IFB's. Perhaps not. If shoutin’ and screamin’ is the norm in such circles, then I am happy in my ignorance. But I do understand the Bible and Church History and I'd rather listen to a good solid Bible preacher who lets the Bible do the talking than watch (significant word there) and listen to someone screaming at me.


  4. Your mention of the still small voice brought to mind Elijah...and then the prophets of baal.. You can read about them in 1 Kings 18. In verse 28 it says they cried aloud in order to be heard by their "god." Sometimes I do wonder about all this loudness in church, whether it be preaching or worship music. Why must it be so loud? Is God deaf? Or is it a way to put the attention upon ourselves and our prowess? Is it because the Holy Spirit has departed and we are left to use human "power"? Is it that we must try harder to be heard by the folks sitting in the pews because their hearts are hard? I wonder if they ever stop to think....

  5. Incidentally I live in the south and heartily agree with your statement: "I'd rather listen to a good solid Bible preacher who lets the Bible do the talking than watch (significant word there) and listen to someone screaming at me." Me too, brother.

  6. Thanks for dropping by. YouTube certainly brings some of the excesses to us, ably assisted by the comnents on Twitter. I have never heard anything an any spiritual depth from the preacher as the morons (with him on the platform and in the pew) roar and get on. And don't forget, it is these churches themselves who post their own tomfooleries up online. #RealDealClowns


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