Expository preaching is life or death, Reformation scholar says

FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – The Reformers who preached in Spain during the 16th century recognized expository preaching as a matter of life and death, Spanish Reformation scholar Emilio Monjo Bellido said during a lecture series at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Aug. 26-27.

Daniel Sanchez, professor of missions at Southwestern, translated for Monjo as he presented his lectures.

“What would our preaching be today if the hearer that accepts our preaching is condemned to death? What a great responsibility to explain (Scripture) well,” Monjo said during his second lecture.

“Many issues would disappear. We would have to concentrate on the expository preaching of the Bible because, in the final analysis and at the end, our conscience would have to say the Word of God ordains it. The Word of God demands it. What few preachers would be left today because, in addition to this, it would become known that the preacher himself might be condemned to death. That is the Reformation.”

Many scholars do not give attention to the Reformation in Spain, but Monjo argued that Spanish Protestants established a strong reform movement in Spain, especially in the city of Seville. The Spanish Inquisition was able to oppress this movement, and it condemned many of its leaders to death. However, the Spanish Reformation still lives, Monjo said, “because the Word that sustained it is alive.”

In cities like Seville, Protestants were threatened with persecution, imprisonment and death, and this situation could be “a great temptation not to preach.”

“And in that context, expository preaching then comes out not as artificial but as the method of the life of Scripture itself,” Monjo said. In this situation, “who would think of preaching to please someone or to announce frivolously a Christ? It is life or death. What weight upon the preacher. And that is why the preacher only has his rest in submitting to the Scriptures … The preaching of life and death is expository.”

Monjo is the director of the Center for the Investigation and Memory of Spanish Protestantism, based in Seville, and he coordinates a committee that has produced the translations of Spanish Reformation documents. Upon arriving at Southwestern, Monjo donated to the seminary the already published volumes of this series, titled Obras De Los Reformadores Españoles Del Siglo XVI, along with other works from the Spanish Reformation.

"Before Dr. Emilio Monjo appeared on our campus in late August 2009, those of us who are church historians knew little about the rich heritage of the persecuted Spanish Protestant Reformation fathers, which was preserved through not commonly known manuscripts in Great Britain, Spain and elsewhere on the Continent,” said Berry Driver, dean of libraries at Southwestern.

“The nine publications, including the 1553 Ferrera translation facsimile of the Hebrew Scriptures, that Dr. Monjo donated to our libraries are just the beginning of an exciting and growing corpus of new materials among Southwestern Seminary's special collections in the Roberts Library. We appreciate so much the generosity of this godly scholar-pastor for his important contribution to our libraries."

To listen to the Spanish Reformation Lectures, visit the Southwestern Seminary Web site at www.swbts.edu/mediaresources.

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