2 April, 2023

THROWBACK THURSDAY: ‘Preaching to the Eye’ (1897)

by | 26 January, 2023 | 0 comments

This is an excerpt from H.F. MacLane’s essay on how visual aids can help with evangelistic preaching.  

_ _ _ 

‘Preaching to the Eye’ 

Jan. 9, 1897; p. 7 

. . . Much has been said and written concerning the great number who fall away after the evangelist leaves his field of labor. If the facts were known it would be found that this is caused by want of shepherding care on the part of pastors and elders much more frequently than by a failure to properly preach the word of truth by the evangelist. Nevertheless the evangelist and pastor, who would attain to the highest success in his calling is continually seeking for fresh methods by which he may make the truth he wishes to impress upon the minds of his hearers clear and easily understood. One of the best aids to this end is the use of charts and blackboards. The aim should be to have the chart just as simple as possible. Too much matter destroys its simplicity, and thus defeats the end in view. They should be well painted, and large enough to be read from any part of the large auditorium. (Those used by the writer are oil paintings seven feet wide, and from twelve to eighteen feet in length.) 

By the use of such charts people “hear the gospel” by the eye as well as by the ear. And the message of truth is impressed upon the mind in such a way that it will not soon be forgotten. The Plan of Salvation; How to Study the Bible; Essentials to Conversion; Baptism; Baptism in Type and Fulfillment, are some of the sermons illustrated in this way. 

To illustratde the use by a subject that to us is familiar, as this can be given in a newspaper column better than the others, we take the question, What “form of baptism” meets the requirements of the New Testament text, and context? 

You may quote the Scripture, using these very passages, and fail to convince, but put it on a blackboard or chart in this simple form, and it is hard for the hearers to escape conviction: 

In a meeting held by the writer some time since, a young man, who was preparing for the ministry in the Congregational Church, saw this matter presented upon a blackboard just as it is shown here. Two days later he presented himself for Scriptural baptism, and is now preaching in the Christian Church at Carthage, South Dakota. 

Some months later a Methodist preacher listened to the same “chart talk,” and said, “That is too clear to be questioned. I want you to immerse me.” 

A preacher listened to the talk on “How to Study the Bible,” illustrated by a large and simple chart on the divisions of the Word. He said: “I have been preaching for twenty-five years. You have made the Bible a new book to me.” 

These men had heard preaching on these subjects time and again, but when the same truths were presented by the “eye gate as well as by the ear gate,” they at once accepted the truth taught. . . . 

A simple chart on “Campbellism,” or the difference between reformation and restoration, will do more to impress the majesty and beauty of “the plea of the disciples” upon one who has not previously studied the subject than will a dozen sermons without illustration. . . . — H. F. MacLane, Athens, Ohio  


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