Steven J. Lawson
Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003.
Hardcover, 134 pages, $14.99. ISBN 0-8024-1121-5.
In the opening pages of his book, Steven Lawson explains that his purpose is to “rally all who are in the trenches faithfully preaching and teaching the Scripture to discern and deflect the many threats that have arisen in this present hour against expounding the full counsel of God.”
Lawson – the founding pastor of Grace Community Bible Church in Mobile, AL – describes the “true nature of preaching” as “the man of God opening the Word of God and expounding its truths so that the voice of God may be heard, the glory of God seen, and the will of God obeyed.” He believes that reformation within the church is dependent on reformation within the pulpit, which he believes is only possible by a return to expository preaching.
Expressing concern about the growing place of other elements of worship – and even entertainment – to the exclusion of biblical preaching, Lawson argues that “the preaching of the Cross is now foolishness, not only to the world, but also to the contemporary church. The result has been a famine of biblical preaching in our land . . . (which) reveals a loss of confidence in God’s Word to performs its sacred work. While evangelicals affirm the inerrancy of Scripture, many have apparently abandoned their belief in its sufficiency to save and to sanctify.”
In the first major section of the book, Lawson argues for the Priority of Biblical Preaching, offering biblical and historical precedent for such an emphasis. Other sections deal with the Power, the Pattern, and the Passion of Biblical Preaching. The book is filled with biblical insights about preaching along with interesting quotes and illustrations drawn from the lives of wonderful preachers through the ages.
In his foreword for the book, John MacArthur says, “Famine in the Land is a thoroughly biblical treatment of the subject of preaching. It is a splendid digest of some of the Bible’s most important and most basic instructions for preachers. Here is a wonderful antidote for young preachers confused by all the modern emphasis on style over substance.”
The book is based on a series of articles originally published in the journal Bibliotheca Sacra; a single article drawing on the insights of the larger series appeared in the September-October 2002 issue of Preaching.