Trueman, Kaiser, Vos and Christ-Centered Preaching

To end a sermon on a moral exhortation is verboden, undermining the message of redemptive-history

“Yes, Geerhardus Vos, whose biblical theological method is the bedrock for much Reformed Christocentric preaching these days, preached non-Christocentric sermons. At least three, at any rate. I have not read all his sermons, but it only takes a few counter-examples to prove that Vos was not the father of modern Christ-centered preaching.”

 

My three-part series on Christ-centered or “Gospel preaching” (sermons that always have an explicit message of Christ as “integral,” the “climax”, and the last thought for the audience) is far from complete.

Trueman, Kaiser and Vos were not included.

Yes, Geerhardus Vos, whose biblical theological method is the bedrock for much Reformed Christocentric preaching these days, preached non-Christocentric sermons. At least three, at any rate. I have not read all his sermons, but it only takes a few counter-examples to prove that Vos was not the father of modern Christ-centered preaching.

In his sermon on Hebrews 11:9-10, “Heavenly Mindedness,” Christ was mentioned a few times but never as “integral” to the sermon. And the last thought and climax of the sermon was about God being our God and we being his people.

The sixteenth sermon exposits Isaiah 57:15, “Our Holy and Glorious God.” There is nary a word of “Jesus Christ.” Salvation and grace play backseat to the holiness and infinite majesty of God.

The “Suffering Servant” is mentioned in passing. And the listener leaves the sermon in awe of God’s glory. Christ is neither the climax nor the last thought on the hearers mind. How many redemptive-historic preachers of today could follow Vos?

A sermon on Psalm 25:14, “Songs from the Soul,” mentions Christ twice. At the beginning, Vos briefly notes Christ’s relation to the Psalm. But the remainder of the sermon is about the devotional life of believers.  But he does end the sermon with a lasting thought upon Christ:

“Let us endeavour to cultivate diligently the devotional spirit of the psalmists. Or, better still, let us take for our example the spirit of Jesus himself…”

This is a major violation of so-called Gospel preaching. To end a sermon on a moral exhortation is verboden, undermining the message of redemptive-history.

Ironically, this volume of sermons (Banner of Truth,1994) was praised by Kerux editors as “a feast of Christ-centered and God-centered preaching.” Apparently, if Vos preached non-Christ-centered sermons, it’s OK.

A few years back, Dr. Kaiser wrote a short essay about Christ-centered preaching. Later, he engaged with other writers on this topic. In 2014 he wrote another series, subtitled, “Is Jesus really found in EVERY Old Testament text?

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