Dabney’s 7 Points for Preaching

R. L. Dabney

T. David Gordon’s Why Johnny Can’t Preach is responsible for bringing R.L. Dabney’s (1820 – 98) 7 “cardinal requisites” back on my radar. I’m generally against “New Year’s Resolutions” as being far too American and theologia gloriae (wink, wink), but I do hope to reflect more proactively to my own preaching in light of Dabney’s requisites for the year to come.

When I first read these, I was surprised to see nothing about “Christ-centered,” “redemptive historical,” etc. Now, I would suggest that Dabney is getting more at preaching method than content. Thoughts? Without further ado, then, the 7 “cardinal requisites:”

1. Textual Fidelity
“Since the mind of God is disclosed in Scripture, the sermon must be entirely faithful to the text-a genuine exposition of the particular thought of a particular text.”

2. Unity
“Unity requires two things. The speaker must, first, have one main subject of discourse, to which he adheres with supreme reference throughout. But this is not enough. He must, second, propose to himself one definite impression on the hearer’s soul, to the making of which everything in the sermon is bent.” Continue reading