Capon, Robert Farrar. The Foolishness of Preaching: Proclaiming the Gospel against the Wisdom of the World. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1998. Chapter 7, “The Ingredients of Preaching” pp. 55-70.
In chapter seven, Capon shifts to an explanation of the elements of good preaching. It virtually goes without saying that truly great preaching is a rare thing (Capon 1998, 55). Because of this, it is unreasonable to expect every congregation will have a superlative preacher. Capon compares preaching to cooking, saying it is a bad idea to think “they’re hiring homiletical chefs to serve them four star food, when what they should be doing is marrying themselves to someone who, with a little help and a bushel of luck, may turn out to be a decent household cook” (Capon 1998, 56). The good parish preacher serves nourishing and sustaining meals. And, similarly to a cook, the preacher enjoys finding and using ingredients which work together. Both the preacher and the cook have opponents who wish to exclude some elements or make everything fit a preconceived formula (Capon 1998, 58). The good preacher digs into all of Scripture and pulls out all kinds of unexpected treasures.
Capon continues to distinguish rather sharply between religion/doctrine and powerful truth, still suggesting that doctrinal presuppositions are necessarily wrong. He urges hearing of the Scriptures as “someone speaking to you, not just someone writing memos for you to read at your desk” (Capon 1998, 61). The Scriptures, to Capon, come to life when read aloud. He suggests using Daily Offices and scheduling the time as something that can push off all but the most serious emergencies (Capon 1998, 62). In sermon preparation we study the details. In reading the Scripture we hear the Author. Both are important.
Capon, as he recommends study methods, pulls the preacher into the Greek text, also urging word studies and cross referencing passages, using either print or computer tools (Capon 1998, 64). I observe the book was published in 1998, before much of the Internet revolution had occurred. Capon takes us on a brief walk through Luke 11:5-13 to illustrate reflection on the different ideas.
Capon identifies one other element which is critical to our preaching, and it is prayer (Capon 1998, 67). Capon again tries to break down ideas of careful order and eloquence, as he does doctrinal formulations (Capon 1998, 68). Capon does havea very valid point that prayers should not be rooted in our search for God but in the reality that God has already found us and communicated with us. Capon finally observes that in our prayers we tell God what is on our minds but in the Scriptures He has shown us His mind. As we read and hear the Scripture we can view that as God’s message to us (Capon 1998, 70).