Needed--More "Ad Hoc" Sermons

Some sermons should never be preached. Most of these can be categorized under the following Latin titles. . .

-associate secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate at the time this article was written

Some sermons should never be preached. Most of these can be categorized under the following Latin titles:

1. The ad hominem variety. The Latin words mean "appealing to a person's feeling or prejudices rather than his intellect." This is not to promote intellectual sermons as such, but to identify ourselves with the presentation of truth with cogent and intelligent arguments well documented and with a clear Spirit-filled exposition of the Bible! Jesus should always be out in front as the grand subject. The sermon should be delivered as He would deliver a sermon, appealing not to the intellect merely, as the Greeks did, or to the emotions alone, as did the Romans, but to the will of man. "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: . . . and the winds blew . . . and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock" (Matt. 7:24, 25).

2. The addendum discourse. The Latin word means "a thing added ... a supplement" actually an appendix. Insofar as appendixes are concerned an appendix fit for removal!

Really, there are addendum sermons. Perhaps we have all preached them, sermons that might better never have been preached, superfluous, inane, without specific purpose and objective like books added to the Bible or like fancy ornaments worn on the person that only add sparkle and wit but not spiritual charm and true soul appeal. No preacher should ever deliver a sermon that becomes text for his own condemnation as a superficial man!

3. The ad infinitum variety. Webster explains the Latin expression as meaning "without end or limit." We have all heard about the man sitting on the front pew of the church with a watch held in his hand that he frequently consulted as he listened to the long-winded preacher. This was bad enough, but how about the man who also sat listening patiently and then in desperation held the watch up to his ear to see if it was still running! To add insult to injury he next proceeded to violently shake it! More sharp, crisp, powerful, Christ-filled sermons are needed.

4. The ad nauseam type. Fortunately these sermons are infrequent but we hear them occasionally. The Latin expression means "to a sickening degree." We have all heard a few sermons during our lifetimes in which the preacher stresses the details of his exceedingly human experiences before he was converted. It almost sounds as if he is bragging about his life in sin.

Then there are the increasingly frequent and sometimes detailed messages on "sex" which offend the finer sensibilities and turn the stomachs of the majority of people who recognize the need for such explanations but who have sense enough to know they should not be brought to the public in that form.

Perhaps you can think of other sermons that should never have been preached, even though you may not find the Latin expression to represent them. This, however, is not important. The important thing is to call attention to the good sermons. For example, the ad hoc variety. This Latin expression means "for" the particular end or case at hand." We need more ad hoc sermons dealing with problems of immediate concern to the congregation. Sermons are also needed that take into account the glory of God and His sovereignty. Sermons stressing the centrality of Christ and the third angel's message, including warnings against the in roads of worldly attitudes and customs in the church, are certainly necessary in times like these. Sermons dealing with immediate situations and crises are justifiable and important. They are best developed, however, from the context of salvation history as we have it in the Scriptures.

How God must be urgently searching for alert preachers who know when to preach ad hoc sermons maybe the present truth kind dealing with the particular end at hand, to use a play on words, the Lord's coming and our preparation for it.


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-associate secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate at the time this article was written

January 1974

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