Him We Proclaim – The Core of Our Message

1596380543mFor this “On My shelf Monday” I want to recommend one of my favorite reads in the past few years.  It’s called Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All of Scripture, by Dennis Johnson.

As the twenty-first century dawns, the global church needs a rebirth of Holy Spirit-illumined, apostolic proclamation of Jesus Christ from every text of Scripture. The weakening church in the West finds itself marginalized by a culture that increasingly manifests indifferent pluralism and hostile paganism strikingly similar to what the apostles encountered in the Greco-Roman world two millennia ago. Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere the church’s rapid numerical growth frequently is accompanied by converts” superficial grasp of Scripture and fragile connection to the faith, giving little evidence of the gospel’s power to create communities of disciples distinguished by purity, integrity, compassion, and hope.

Him We Proclaim argues that today, twenty centuries after the good news of Jesus the Messiah first burst like lightning across the ancient world’s global cultures, pastors and evangelists must rediscover the Christ-centered way of reading and preaching the Bible that the apostles learned from Jesus and practice the apostolic hermeneutic that God’s Spirit used to capture the hearts of ancient peoples by the world-shaking power of divine grace. (WTS Books)


This is an important book, a timely book much in need of being written and one that will be read with the greatest profit. This is especially so for those who, committed to a redemptive-historical or covenant-historical reading of the Bible, recognize and seek to honor and proclaim as its central theme, Old Testament as well as New, Christ in his person and work as the consummate revelation of the triune God.
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– Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Charles Krahe Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

Him We Proclaim is by far the most comprehensive study of what the Bible says about preaching. Through a very wide-angle lens, Johnson is able to show that none of the popular theories of preaching says everything that should be said; but each has some insights and can be seen as an aspect of the biblical picture. The book also gives a clear and full account of the hermeneutical questions that preachers must deal with. Johnson’s arguments are cogent, his evaluations sound. If I could have only one book on preaching, this would be the one.
– John M. Frame, J. D. Trimble Chair of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is truly worth reading, and Dennis Johnson’s meaty volume, Him We Proclaim, is one of them. Although this work is indeed about preaching, it is no mere homiletics manual, for Johnson provides rich exegetical fare and incisive theological reflection in an understandable, literate style. In an area where considerable disagreement exists, the author’s commitments are clear, but he refuses to be drawn to extreme positions, and his irenic treatment of competing views can only affect the discussion in a positive way. Even those who may not be fully persuaded by Johnson’s arguments will be deeply grateful by what they have learned.
– Moises Silva, Formerly Professor of New Testament Westminster Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Dennis Johnson has written a magnificent book that magnifies Christ in all of Scripture. Every preacher and teacher of the Scriptures should read this gem of a book. Johnson convincingly explains and defends the thesis that Christ should be proclaimed from all of Scripture. But he also illustrates with specific examples what it looks like to proclaim Christ in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This book is exegetically faithful, theologically profound, and practically helpful. I wish I had a read a book like this when I started my theological education thirty years ago.
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Apostolic hermeneutics? Dare we read the Scripture backward as well as forward? Dennis Johnson’s answer is a marvelously informed, and convincing “yes!” Yes, we can read and interpret and teach as the apostles did. Him We Proclaim is sure to be widely read and discussed both in the academy and by groups of serious-minded preachers of the Word. Sure to become a staple in the homiletical discussion of the twenty-first century.
– R. Kent Hughes, Senior Pastor Emeritus, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois

This book is dedicated to the memory of Edmund Clowney, who inspired many of us to find and preach Christ in all the Scriptures. Clowney was a brilliant practitioner of Christocentric preaching. The question for the rest of us is how to do it well. In a wide-ranging discussion, Dennis Johnson brings his deep knowledge of the Bible and hermeneutics together with his experience and teaching of preaching to reflect on just this question. One need not agree with all his arguments or assumptions to appreciate the value and importance of what Johnson offers as the fruit of years of wise reflection and practice. The first part of his work defends the whole enterprise of Christological interpretation and preaching in the light of issues in present-day biblical scholarship and homiletical debates. Not content simply to theorize, he provides extended expositions of apostolic preaching and teaching, samples of Christological readings of OT and NT passages, and an appendix proposing basic procedures for moving from text to Christological proclamation. There is much, then, to stimulate thought and to give practical help in this major contribution. Not the least part of that contribution is Johnson’s persuasive argument that preaching that makes Christ its primary focus should at the same time be preaching that addresses the needs of its hearers in their particular cultural setting.
– Andrew T. Lincoln, Portland Professor of New Testament, University of Gloucestershire

Him We Proclaim is a masterful work that should help preachers to understand the necessary interplay between hermeneutics and homiletics that results from a comprehensive biblical theology and a deep commitment to preaching the Word of God. This book holds the promise of the recovery of biblical preaching for those who will give themselves to the demanding and glorious task of setting each text within the context of God’s redemptive plan. This is a book that belongs on every preacher’s bookshelf.
– R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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