Ryrie’s Practical Guide to Communicating Bible Doctrine
Ryrie begins this practical guide on preaching and teaching by discussing the practicality of doctrine and then answering three excuses people give for not teaching doctrine. If doctrine were not practical, he says, the entire Bible would be impractical. Then he discusses five ways to communicate the Scriptures. These include (a) communicating major biblical passages, which focus on a central doctrine (e.g., giving, justification, the kenosis); (b) teaching systematic theology, in which several passages are brought together on a certain doctrine (as examples Ryrie includes an outline of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit and an outline of the doctrine of Satan); (c) biblical theology (e.g., the doctrine of inspiration in James, what Jesus believed about money, and fellowship according to 1 John); (d) teaching doctrine from a concordance, that is, topical sermons or lessons; and (e) teaching doctrine from biblical illustrations, in which the communicator teaches a doctrine that stems from a biblical event.
In another chapter Ryrie warns against reading into the biblical text something that is not there. He discusses several dangers and abuses in preaching and then gives basic guidelines for expounding the Scriptures.
The first of two appendixes discusses topical expository sermons that “stick to the topic and explain the passages in an expository manner” (p. 69), in contrast to “topical not-unbiblical messages that use passages that are only remotely related to the topic” (ibid.). An expository sermon “translates for the hearer the meaning of the text accurately so that the hearer can understand and then hopefully obey what God says” (p. 72). Then Ryrie gives four steps to follow in preparing expository sermons.
Anyone engaged in teaching or preaching will benefit from this book, though it is written especially for Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, and beginning preachers. Experienced preachers or teachers will benefit from this review of the content (doctrine) and communication (homiletics) of their sermons and lessons.