preachers of influence

I want to pick up on something I said in my last post. I was observing the influence of much admired and frequently listened to preachers on those who admire and listen to them. Here is a bit of what I said:

The preachers you listen to influence your own preaching. … I have spent hours listening to Mark Minnick. Mark was my Pulpit Speech teacher. I have intentionally tried to imitate his methods and something of his style. As I began listening to the Trinity messages this summer though (and most of them were Chuck Phelps), I caught myself a few times in the pulpit saying things in a way that sounded to me like the way Chuck would say it. I think Chuck has a certain cadence to his preaching that is a bit unique among preachers, and I was unconsciously (or semi-consciously) picking up on that.

Chuck himself mentioned this tendency among preacher boys in one of the messages I listened to today. He said that those who sat under Tom Malone often mimicked some of his habits as did those who sat under Dr Bob Sr. Of course, I have observed this with other admired preachers as well. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing!

But it does mean preachers need to be careful who they admire, who they listen to, and who influences them. I think that subject is probably worth another post at some point.

The influence of one preacher on another is all well and good if the admired and followed preacher is a fully faithful member of the clergy. You may pick up mannerisms – that is one thing. But much more you should pick up philosophy, methodology, zeal, and ministry patterns. And you will, if you make a study of a particular preacher or preachers.

That means you must choose your models very, very carefully. Some young men today are making extremely unwise choices in this regard.

Consider those who much admire John Piper. I have listened to one Piper sermon in its entirety. If that is a sample, his content, style and mannerisms (as far as I could discern from audio only) leave me cold. But that is just me. I am not so much concerned with style as philosophy.

If you make a study of Piper as your ‘ideal preacher’, isn’t it likely that you might relax your Baptist distinctives as one preacher pointed out recently? Isn’t it likely that you will at least have a kinder gentler approach to worldly culture in the church? Won’t you become open to much of his philosophy?

Some may think Piper is my favorite whipping boy. [He is!] But I ask young fundamentalists … for whatever good any evangelical preacher does [and they actually are brethren, labouring in the kingdom, bringing souls to Christ… I don’t deny that and in fact rejoice in that], for whatever good they do and for whatever profit their writings may be, is it wise to make them the focus of your attention and study?

Wouldn’t it be much better for young fundamentalists to make the preaching ministry of some prominent fundamentalist pastor the model of their own ministry and object of their attention and admiration? You will pick up more than mannerisms from those you admire. And, quite frankly, there are several good men from whom our young fundamentalist preachers can glean much. I have mentioned Minnick and Phelps, two fine examples. There are many others.

Oh, they don’t write, you say? Don’t they write sermons? With the internet, you can fill your soul every week with the sermons of your most admired fundamentalist preachers. The value of writing is somewhat over-rated anyway. Most of the vaunted writings men put out are just fluff anyway. Often the best part of them is the titles.

You would do better to hone your Greek and Hebrew and your exegetical skills. One of my professors told me that preachers would do better to invest in reference books than to buy the latest ‘Christian best sellers’. There is a lot of wisdom in that. Better to be a skilled handler of the word and to make the preaching ministry of a thoroughly fundamentalist pastor your model. Or maybe two or three of them!! (But really, not many more than that.)

Can it be the only preachers worthy of admiration are evangelicals? If so, then you might as well become one.



  1. ‘Wouldn’t it be much better for young fundamentalists to make the preaching ministry of some prominent fundamentalist pastor the model of their own ministry and object of their attention and admiration?’

    I know there must be twenty branches of fundamentalism, Jones and Norris, Rice or Hyles, Malone and Robinson. But these men have died. Who has taken their place today?

    Please who are those today that would be good men to model after in the human sense?

    When you question John Piper, is it because he is not a fundamentalist?

    What fundamentalist have done what those old men of the past have done?


  2. Charles, in this post and the preceding one, I have already mentioned two current fundamentalists whose ministries are worthy of emulation, IN MY OPINION.

    The first is Mark Minnick, who is today speaking at a conference I am attending in Calgary, AB. Dr. Minnick graciously spent a half hour with me this afternoon discussing a range of pastoral issues. He also spent two hours with the group of us discussing the current issues between conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism. All in all an enlightening afternoon.

    I have also mentioned Chuck Phelps, the new president of Maranatha Baptist Bible College. Much of his ministry at Trinity Baptist in Concord New Hampshire is available online.

    There are a number of other fine fundamentalist preachers whose ministries are faithful, successful, and whose sermons are likewise available on the internet fairly reasonably. You are much behind the times if you think that is not so.

    As for Piper, I am opposed to making him an object of study and admiration because of a number of serious errors he has made and continues to make. If you read through my blog, you will see several points where I take issue with things he has done and said recently. There is a good deal more, but I won’t rehash it here.

    My point is that there are plenty of fundamentalist pastors whom young men can emulate. If they wish to be truly fundamentalist ministers, they would do well to make such men the object of their attention rather than evangelical pastors like Piper.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Don

    Thanks, and you are correct, I am amazed how few people and pastors outside our box we know. I was taught not to get out side that box. Nevertheless I have found interesting the views of others, who may not necessarity be Baptist of the right sort. The web certainly has open the door to other views in the Christian world.

    I have heard the views you have for over sixty years, now. Which means they must be good.

    Thanks for the references to others in the fundamentalist camp that I have not heard.


  4. Hi Charles

    I am glad you wrote back. I was thinking that I was too short in my reply to your first post.

    One thing that we have not communicated well in the past is that the evangelicals we disagree with are not enemies, we just disagree on the basis of philosophy of ministry primarily. That means I can’t work with them, and in some cases that means I am quite critical of their practices and views.

    But we should always express our criticism in a godly manner. That is a balance hard to strike.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3