Putting the truth to Work by Doriani

Putting The Truth To Work: the Theory and Practice of Biblical Application. 
by Daniel M.  Doriani

Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2001.  

This was an insightful book to read. Doriani works through four different aspects of application. These are duty, character, goals, and discernment (98). He also spends time working through the various genres and how a preacher out to apply them.

From the beginning of the introduction I got the impression that the application of Scripture is a difficult endeavor. So often a preacher limits the application of a passage to a specific command, do this or do not do that. Frankly, this is the easiest form of application which I often find myself slipping into. There are definite commands which must be proclaimed and obeyed, but that is not the only application which I must make.

I found the book to be very helpful, yet convicting. So much of what he said was rebuking to my methods. “But lessons that forget Jesus are sub-Christian, for they never transcend the goal of living well. The foundation of application is always the knowledge of God, Creator and Redeemer.” (54) It is easy to provide sub-Christian lessons by focusing on outward behavior and not inward motive. This was the very sin which Jesus so profusely condemned in the life of the Pharisee. Outward action void of inward conviction.

Another very insightful comparison was made when the author compared a preacher to a midwife. “A preacher is like a spiritual midwife, not giving birth but offering assistance as God creates spiritual life through the word. Like the midwife, the preacher is superfluous if all goes well.” (59) This is my role as a proclaimer of God’s truth. I am not inventing it or composing it, but interpreting and applying it. I cannot receive the credit for what takes place, nor can I be blamed for it’s rejection. I must faithfully preach it.

I appreciated his critique of topical preaching on page 283 and the benefits listed for preaching through a book on page 311. I agree with these wholly. I also appreciated his reference to Tim Keller and idols on page 303, and plan to use those remarks in counseling situations. These were not the main themes of the books, but helpful tidbits along the way.

Besides the difficulty I had reading and understanding his message at times, I greatly appreciated the book. The content shows that it was well researched and developed before the writing of the book, which is nice to see.

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