Reasons Of The Heart

“What role should reason play in coming to faith or in sustaining faith?” That’s been a much-debated question throughout church history. A much less-debated question has been, “What role should the satisfaction of needs play in coming to faith or sustaining faith?”


Enter Clifford Williams with Existential Reasons For Belief in God: A Defense of Desires And Emotions For Faith, and his charge that apologetics has been too philosophical or evidential, too exclusively reason-based, and that it should be supplemented with “the reasons of the heart,” meaning apologetics that don’t just satisfy the mind but also the needs of the heart.

Williams points to how the satisfaction of needs has played such a large and vital part in the faith journeys of most Christians with many finding need and reason so intermixed that they could not be separated.  Thus, Williams concludes, most people “want a faith that fits both need and reason. They want to have certain needs satisfied, and they want faith to be true to reality.” That’s why in this book, Williams argues that:

  • The ideal way to acquire and sustain faith in God is through both need and reason.
  • That need without reason is blind, but reason without need is sterile.
  • That emotion and need can be trusted for faith in God as much as reason.
  • The remedy for being led astray by emotions is not to distrust emotions, but to develop the right emotions.
  • Christians should cultivate emotions as much as they do commitment and right action.
  • Having the right emotions is necessary for discovering certain truths.

To be clear, Williams is not arguing for a faith devoid of reason, but for a faith that is “at least as much need-based as reason-based.” He’s demanding a bigger role for feeling and for the satisfying of need both at the beginning of faith and in supplementing faith.

At the core of Williams’ book is what’s known as the existential argument for believing in God, which, put simply, is “that we are justified in believing in God solely because doing so satisfies certain basic emotional and spiritual needs.” It’s a three-step argument with two premises and a conclusion:

1. We feel certain needs.
2. Faith in God satisfies these needs.
3. Therefore, we are justified in having faith in God.

In future posts, following the structure of Williams’s book, we’ll identify the needs that Christian faith meets and then look more closely at the existential argument for believing in God. Following that, we’ll trace Williams’s response to four objections that are often made against the existential argument before concluding with a look at the role of emotions in creating and sustaining faith.


Preaching Bibliography Organized By Topic

Following this bibliography of the best available books on preaching, you’ll find a topical bibliography which groups the content of these books into topics, together with relevant page numbers. Thank you to my assistants, Esther Engelsma and Sarah Perez for all their work on this.

Here’s a PDF of the bibliographies together with a list of 500+ online resources on preaching.

FULL BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adams, J. E. Preaching with Purpose: The Urgent Task of HomileticsGrand Rapids: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1986.

Adams, J. E. Truth Applied: Application in PreachingGrand Rapids: Ministry Resources Library, 1990.

Akin, D. L., D. L. Allen and N. L. Mathews. Text-Driven Preaching: God’s Word at the Heart of Every SermonNashville: B&H Academic, 2010.

Anyabwile, T. M. The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American PastorsWheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006.

Azurdia, A. G. Spirit Empowered Preaching: The Vitality of the Holy Spirit in Preaching. Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor, 2006.

Beeke, J. R. How to Evaluate SermonsDarlington, UK: Evangelical Press, 2012.

Bridges, C. The Christian MinistryEdinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1958.

Broadus, J. A. A Treatise on the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons (4th ed.). San Francisco: Harper, 1979.

Carrick, J. The Imperative of Preaching: A Theology of Sacred RhetoricEdinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2002.

Carson, D. A. The Cross & Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 CorinthiansGrand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2004.

Chapell, B. Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

Chapell, B. The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach: Help from Trusted Preachers for Tragic TimesGrand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

Charles, H. B. Jr. On Preaching: Personal & Pastoral Insights for the Preparation & Practice of PreachingChicago: Moody Publishers, 2014.

Dabney, R. L. Sacred Rhetoric or a Course of Lectures on PreachingEdinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1986.

Dever, M. & S. Ferguson (Intro.). The Westminster Directory of Public WorshipRoss-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2009.

Dever, M. & G. Gilbert. Preach: Theology Meets PracticeNashville, TN: B&H Books, 2012.

Eswine, Z. Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons that Connect with Our CultureGrand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008.

Gordon, T. D. Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the MessengerPhillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2009.

Greidanus, S. The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical LiteratureGrand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.

Helm, D. R. Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word TodayWheaton: Crossway, 2014.

Hoeksema, H. C. HomileticsGrandville, MI: Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches, 1993.

Kistler, D. (Ed.). Feed My Sheep! A Passionate Plea for Preaching (2nd ed.). Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2008.

Koller, C. W. Expository Preaching Without NotesGrand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1962.

Lloyd-Jones, D. M. Preaching and Preachers (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Logan, S. T. Jr. (Ed.). The Preacher and PreachingPhillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2011.

MacArthur, J. Jr. and the Master’s Seminary Faculty. Preaching: How to Preach BiblicallyNashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005.

MacArthur, J. Jr. and the Master’s Seminary Faculty. Rediscovering Expository PreachingDallas: Word, 1992.

Meyer, J. C. Preaching: A Biblical TheologyWheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

Millar, G. & P Campbell. Saving EutychusKingsford, Australia: Matthias Media, 2013.

Miller, C. Preaching: The Art of Narrative ExpositionGrand Rapids: Baker, 2010.

Mohler, R. A. Jr. He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern WorldChicago: Moody, 2008.

Montoya, A. Preaching with PassionGrand Rapids: Kregel, 2007.

Motyer, A. Preaching? Simple Teaching on Simply PreachingRoss-shire, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2013.

Murray, D. How Sermons Work. Darlington, England: EP Books, 2011.

Perkins, W. The Art of ProphesyingEdinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1996.

Piper, J. The Supremacy of God in PreachingGrand Rapids: Baker Books, 2015.

Prutow, D. J. So Pastor, What’s Your Point? Philadelphia, PA: Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Inc, 2010.

Robinson, H. W. Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository MessagesGrand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014.

Smith, S. W. Dying to Preach: Embracing the Cross in the PulpitGrand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2009.

Spurgeon, C. H. An All-Round MinistryCarlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1960.

Spurgeon, C. H. Lectures to My StudentsGrand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

Stott, J. R. W. Between Two Worlds: The Art of Preaching in the Twentieth CenturyGrand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.

TOPICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

Under each subject heading you’ll find the books and page numbers covering that topic. Taking the first entry, for example, if you want to study about how to prepare to preach, read pages 78-85 of Preaching with Purpose by J. E. Adams.

1. Preparation: Preparing to preach

Adams/Preaching, pp. 78-85
Akin/Text-Driven, pp. 101-134
Bridges/Christian, pp. 192-221
Broadus/Preparation, pp. 237-260
Chapell/Christ-Centered, pp. 344-345
Charles/On Preaching, pp. 15-48, 124-131
Dabney/On Preaching, pp. 328-344
Dever/Preach, pp. 79-84
Dever/Westminster, pp. 93
Koller/Expository Preaching, pp. 44-60
Lloyd-Jones/Preaching, pp. 165-204
MacArthur/Preaching, pp. 47-89
Millar/Saving, pp. 63-69
Miller/Preaching, pp. 101-123
Murray/How Sermons Work, pp. 11-18
Perkins/Art, pp. 23-29
Piper/Supremacy, pp. 90-92, 100-102
Spurgeon/All-Round, pp. 329-339
Stott/Art, pp. 254-261

2. Selection: Selecting a text

Adams/Preaching, pp. 21-26
Broadus/Preparation, pp. 30-35
Charles/On Preaching, pp. 50-57
Dever/Preach, pp. 63-78
Dever/Westminster, pp. 93
Greidanus/Modern, pp. 122-140
Murray/How Sermons Work, pp. 19-34
Perkins/Art, pp. 9-22
Prutow/So Pastor, pp. 53-60
Robinson/Biblical, pp. 28-31
Spurgeon/Lectures, pp. 81-96
Stott/Art, pp. 213-219

Read More


The Future?

I’ve been prayerfully re-considering my blogging ministry and my social media activity. Some things are crystalizing for me; other matters are still awaiting clarity. As I continue to reflect on the past and try to chart a way forward, I’ll not be posting so frequently. Just thought I owed my regular readers an explanation.


Loving God With The Mind And The Heart

Here are a couple of apologetics books I’ve been enjoying the past few days while down in Florida to see my sister and then go to the Gospel Coalition Conference.

Both books address the field of apologetics, the first being more concerned with thinking and the second more focused on feeling. Moreland’s book challenges Christians to pursue a more reasoned faith. Williams’s book is no less reasonable but makes a fascinating and compelling case for supplementing our apologetics with “reasons of the heart.”

Both are needed emphases in the church at large, but, the Reformed world, especially Reformed apologetics, could especially benefit from a good dose of Williams’s book.

Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J P Moreland.

Existential Reasons for Belief in God: A Defense of Desires and Emotions for Faith by Clifford Williams.


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You won’t remember all the arguments from this book, but you’ll now know where to go for short, simple, persuasive biblical answers on the most important topic of our day, and probably of our lifetime.

The book does exactly what it says on the cover; but it also answers common objections and arguments against the biblical position. It’s about as warm and pastoral as possible, without sacrificing biblical principle. Some limited application to things like same-sex-attraction, and same-sex marriage

You’ve got to wonder how long it will be before Amazon bans such books, and before courageous authors and publishers of them will be targeted by the mob and the government.