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Preach to the Affections, Don’t Manipulate Them

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Matthew’s Genealogy Like You’ve Never Heard It Before

In this video performance from The Gospel Coalition’s ‘Songs of Hope’ Advent concert (which premiered Dec. 6, 2020), Poor Bishop Hooper performs their song “Christ”—a beautiful take on the genealogy of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (1:1–17). The song is from Poor Bishop Hooper’s Advent project, Firstborn, which includes music, illustrations, videos, and writing—including a 48-page study on the lineage of Jesus. Why is the genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel important? Here’s what Tim Keller said in a 2016 interview with TGC: Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus does a lot of work. First, it roots Jesus in history. The gospel doesn’t begin...

Should preachers aim for the affections? Is this even possible without resorting to manipulation techniques? In a new roundtable video, John Piper, Voddie Baucham, and Miguel Núñez—all Council members for The Gospel Coalition—explore differences between “working the crowd” and awakening authentic, God-honoring emotion.

“As long as preaching unpacks the greatness of God, the emotions should be moved,” Núñez observes. Faithful exposition, then, is a excellent way to cultivate godly affection and safeguard against squalid manipulation.

A bored preacher misrepresents the God he proclaims, Piper adds, since God is not boring. Moreover, he explains, “the difference between emotion and emotionalism is whether you’ve awakened it with truth.”

Baucham references a complaint sometimes voiced in more traditionally emotional (e.g., black and Latino) cultures that emphasizing truth and theology amounts to “denying your culture, your heritage, your ethnicity.” But the call to awaken affections with biblical truth is not culturally specific. As Piper quips, “I want to be known as the best black preacher there ever was.”

Watch the full 12-minute video to hear these three preachers discuss Grand Canyon moments, when God looks boring, and more.