Moving on

15 03 2011

This may be the last post for this blog. It has been a good experience for Rick, Bruce, and I, but it’s time to wind things up. Thanks for reading, and for your input and comments. We hope that it has been helpful.

As for me, I will be writing for the brand new blog of the faculty of Moore College, called Thinktank.

You can check it out here:

Posted by Con Campbell

Using Greek in ministry

8 08 2010

Rod Decker has collated a helpful collection of essays on using Greek in ministry, including essays by Luther, Piper, and the great granddaddy of Greek grammarians, A.T. Robertson.

Check it out here.

Posted by Con Campbell

Preaching without notes: Method III

4 08 2010

3. Learn the structure of the talk. This involves learning how each main point of the talk connects to the next, and ultimately enables the preacher to “see” the whole talk in his head. I organize my notes into big points, each with minor points. To give the talk without notes, the first step will be to be able to recall your three (or four, or whatever) main points with ease. If you can’t do this, then forget about trying to preach without notes; it’s not going to happen. But I think that remembering three main points is not going to be a problem for most preachers.

After learning those big points, learn the other key elements of the wider structure: What is your introduction? What is your conclusion? After doing this you should be able to recall:


Point 1

Point 2

Point 3


At this stage, you have the broad structure of the whole talk in your head. If you had to give the talk from this point, it might not be polished, and the details might not be clear, but you could still rattle off a 5-10 minute talk with some coherence. Now it’s just a matter of going deeper…

Posted by Con Campbell

Preaching without notes: Method II

7 06 2010

My second point:

2. Write the talk to be memorized. What I mean by this is that as the talk is being written, it should be constructed in such a way that enables easy memorization.

The most important element here is structure. Say the talk has three main points (for a change). The first thing I will be conscious of as I write a new talk is how easy it is for me to remember those three points. Does one lead to the next? Are they easily discerned from the passage being preached? Can I keep all three in my head at the same time? Apart from helping with noteless preaching, these checks ensure structural clarity for our hearers.

The second most important element is the “connectors” in the talk. Once you know what the three main points are (the skeletal structure of the talk), I need to know how to move from one to the next. At this point, I will write (and memorize) short little connecting statements: one at the end of point one, another after point two, etc.

After this, writing a talk to be memorized involves filling out the content of the main points. This is the hardest thing to do in a way that ensures memorization, but the rule is: keep it simple stupid. Not that the content should be simplistic, or lacking depth, or un-profound, but that the content should not be unnecessarily complex in its structure or logic. The logic and structure within each point ought to be clear; if it’s clear, I can remember it. Again, this kind of clarity makes for a good talk to listen to as well. And this does not do away with detail; I can remember details fine, as long as I know how they fit in the broader thing.

If you can write a talk that has these elements, I’d say you’re well on the way to noteless preaching!

Posted by Con Campbell

My letter in the Sydney Morning Herald

30 05 2010

…is here.

Posted by Con Campbell

Help me choose the cover for my book, Keep Your Greek

27 05 2010

Which cover do you prefer? I need to make a decision by Friday, so any thoughts would be appreciated. If you can tell me why you like a particular cover that would be especially helpful. Thanks!

Posted by Con Campbell

Cover A

Cover B

Cover C

What is the Center of Paul? A Three Corded Rope?

21 05 2010
Ary Scheffer: The Temptation of Christ, 1854
Image via Wikipedia

A friend of mine (Jason Hood) is in the process of writing an article about the kingdom of God as the center of Paul’s thinking -If I’ve understood him right. This is an age old question, but after I wrote a response to Jason, I thought it might be worth posting it for others to interact with…

Jason, you have emphasized the continuity of the concept, i.e. suggested how other key ideas and expression (eschatology, union with Christ) may be consumed under the kingdom of God. I would like to hear about the discontinuity too – why in the  Pauline corpus do we see him choosing this expression when he does, over against another descriptor. I.e. in the absence of a passage which explains why this particular expression IS a summary of these other ideas (I don’t know of any passage that brings them all together), why does Paul choose to use other expressions besides this one and why does he choose to use this expression where he does.

My only concern as I have thought about this subject myself (I start my lectures on Paul’s letter with three full weeks on the center of Paul) is a pedagogical one. Kingdom is quite an impersonal concept, as are redemptive history and eschatology. Union with Christ is a REALLY personal way for Paul to say things. Maybe this (in part) answers the question of “Why this expression?” (above), but there is also a pedagogical rub with what you are trying to say in your article. If someone says to me that “kingdom of God is the center of Paul” It sounds very corporate – which of course many today would be happy about! But given the VERY personal nature of “with/in Christ” how in your article can you capture the idea that the center of Paul is (in fact) very personal?

For what it is worth, I teach that the center of Paul is a three corded rope – union with Christ, redemptive history & eschatology. You may then state this three different ways depending (pedagogically) on what you/Paul wants to emphasize 1) The center of Paul is Jesus, who fulfills redemptive history by ushing in the eschaton; or 2) The center of Paul redemptive history, which now finds its fulfillment in Jesus ushering in the eschaton; or 3) The center of Paul is eschatology, which in Christ is the beginning of the end for redemptive history. Perhaps the redemptive history side could be restated as kingdom, since this is OT language for the hope of Israel, which finds finds a subversiveness expression in Christianity in that the way the eschaton works out and also the nature of God‘s Christ. It is this subversive edge as well as Paul’s desire to be personal, which perhaps explains why he must add the other two cords to this rope.

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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Preaching without notes: Method I

11 05 2010

Sometime ago I posted about preaching without notes, and promised to follow up with some thoughts about method. I haven’t been blogging for a while, but several people have asked when I would fulfill that promise, so here goes. I think it will be easier to tackle it in a few small chunks rather than lay it all out at once.

I’ve been preaching without notes for six months now, and in that time have preached 34 times, including a couple of occasions in which I’ve preached two different talks back to back, with about 15 minutes in between. Last month I preached 11 times, nearly all different talks. All of this has tested my “method” pretty well, and has helped me to reflect on what I’m doing. So here’s my first point:

1. Know the passage really well. It sounds obvious, since any preacher will study the text closely. But my point includes more than this. First, it is more important to know the passage than to know your talk. This is a good rule anyway, but it especially helps in preaching without notes. One reason for this is that even if you forget bits of your talk, you can still speak about the passage with clarity and depth of understanding.

Also, close attention to the structure of the passage, and particular words and phrases, can serve as a memory trigger for the talk. I will make sure that I know how I want to break a passage up, and then will know what I want to say about each section of the passage. For example, if the first unit is verses 1–3, I’ll expound that unit, drawing out its most important elements. I might have an illustration to help with understanding the main point of the unit, and I’ll know what kind of application I want to draw from the unit. As long as I know the passage well, all I really need to remember are those three steps. As I move through the whole passage, the process is much the same for each unit.

More to come later…

Posted by Con Campbell

My review of Granville Sharp’s Canon and Its Kin, by Daniel B. Wallace

21 04 2010

…has been published and is available here.

Posted by Con Campbell

Anakin & Luke Skywalker = Adam & Christ

3 02 2010

I’m reading Mike Bird’s great little book, Introducing Paul, and had to share this analogy of Paul’s contrast between Adam & Christ. I’m sure the analogy should not be pushed too far, but it’s great for what it’s worth.

In want of a modern analogy, George Lucas’s six-part saga Star Wars can be called a ‘Tale of Two Skywalkers’, and in many ways mirrors the Adam–Christ contrast of Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, where Adam and Christ stand for the two respective heads of humanity. They are representatives or types of either a corrupted humanity (Adam) or a redeemed humanity (Christ). The first Skywalker (Anakin Skywalker) faced the temptation to give in to the dark side of the force: he gave in to it and death, destruction and chaos followed. In contrast, the second Skywalker (Luke Skywalker) faced the same temptation, but was faithful and obedient to the Jedi vocation, and consequently hope, life and the triumph of good followed. In fact, Luke was able to redeem the first Skywalker, his father Anakin, from evil through his faithfulness.

Introducing Paul, 43

Posted by Con Campbell