Weighing Sermon Substance: Evaluating a Sermon's Degree of Expository Merit, Doctrinal Essence, and Christ-Centeredness
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This dissertation develops and demonstrates a method for evaluating a sermon's degree of three aspects: expository merit, doctrinal essence, and Christ-centeredness. The work argues that the gravity of expository, doctrinal, and Christ-centered preaching calls for a substantive and well-balanced method that weighs a sermon's degree regarding these matters. Chapter 1 clarifies the thesis and frames the project in relation to several academic fields. After the methodology is presented, the chapter concludes with a relevant caution concerning the spirit of sermon evaluation. Chapter 2 demonstrates the place for such a project in the field of homiletics. The "combined gravity" of the three aspects is presented through a biblical and theological consideration. The need to speak in terms of degree with regard to evaluation is also presented. Finally, the chapter considers the current state of sermon evaluation in order to show the void in the field of homiletics regarding a substantive and well-balanced method for evaluating the three aspects. Chapters 3 and 4 interact with evangelical scholarship in order to define a substantive foundation for evaluation. Chapter 3 discerns a central concern for each of the three aspects and discusses pertinent matters of clarification. Chapter 4 delineates six distinctive elements for each aspect which are more specific matters of consideration than the broader central concerns. Chapter 5 develops the evaluation method itself. It begins with a discussion of overlapping dynamics among the three aspects. Then a "substance evaluation form" is presented which is followed by the five step method: prayer, listening and notation, evaluation of the central concerns, evaluation of the distinctive elements, and labeling and reflection. Chapter 6 demonstrates the potential for the proposed method through a discussion of the evaluation results from sixty sermons. Three sermons each from twenty evangelical pastors were selected and evaluated. Overall sermon results, individual pastor results, and specific sermon results are presented. Chapter 7 concludes the project with a discussion of its value. It's value is presented in terms of evaluation standards, possible applications of the method, and insights for prescriptive texts.