[Criteria for Judging Preaching by Dr. Isaac R. Clark]


Isaac R. Clark

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Isaac R. Clark Memorial Collection

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circa 1963

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In this lecture Dr. Isaac R. Clark outlines a working theological definition of preaching. He states this definition is not perfect but gives the preacher a working objective when preparing sermons. Dr. Clark (based on theological definition of preaching), critiques modern mainstream preaching as shallow and operating within the shadows. He further details the causes of spiritual poverty of modern preaching.

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00:01:00 Dr. Isaac Clark talks about working theological definition of preaching and critique of preaching.

00:02:36 Admits theological definition of preaching can be improved, but can help in serving as a working objective for one to shoot for in preparing their sermon. The definition can also serve as a standard for judging the validity of every sermon one hears or preach.

00:05:43 Talks about making a critique of mainstream preaching from three points of view. First makes a general assessment about the preaching situation of contemporary mainline Protestantism in America. Secondly will attempt to prove the assessment is accurate. Thirdly give causes for predicament of preaching in contemporary American.

00:08:07 Talks about how contemporary preaching is not getting at the deep fundamental grade serious questions of life, lacking in understanding of psychology and sociology.

00:10:33 Talks about because there is not brave import in much of modern preaching, and that people no longer take preaching seriously.

00:17:55 Talks about Billy Graham conducting a crusade in Los Angeles and 930,340 persons attended during the two week crusade and 40,000 converts came to Christ. Questions why they joined Graham and not local churches.

00:21:30 Presents possible reason in the success of Graham’s preaching suggests most members in local churches are spiritually hungry.

00:29:45 Talks about the causes of much of the spiritual poverty of modern preaching and disease roots that produce cancerous fruit.

00:30:53 Talks about ministers believing they are supposed to do any and everything in church and community.

00:43:33 Talks about third cause for much of the spiritual poverty is the fallacy of foreign missionism. This is the belief by ministers that being out of town is far more significant than being in town.

01:02:45 Dr. Clark talks to class about the final exam.

01:03:23 Introduces the third part of theological definition of preaching proclaimed and or announced. Preaching is divine activity where the word of God is proclaimed or announced.

01:32:31 Talks about necessity of having conference (prayer and meditation) with God before preacher proclaims in God’s name.

01:40:38 Talks about the preacher speaking with divine authority so that people will have confidence in the preacher.

01:54:10 Coverage of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assassination.

02:02:05 Audio ends.


The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library acknowledges the generous support of the National Endowment for Humanities - Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Implementation Project Grant in supporting the processing and digitization of a number of its major archival collections as part of the project: Spreading the Word: Expanding Access to African American Religious Archival Collections at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library.


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