This structure introduces hearers to a theological topic by moving from the known to the unknown. The sermon is based upon an act of comparison as the preacher compares a topic that is familiar to the hearers but of secondary importance (i.e., the analogy or secondary topic) to the topic of primary importance that might be unfamiliar to the hearers (i.e., the main topic of the sermon). By doing this, the preacher moves from the familiar to the unfamiliar and allows the analogy to shed light upon the theological topic.
For example, a preacher may compare the way the anticipated birth of a child shapes the life of a couple (i.e., the topic of secondary importance that is familiar to the hearers) to the way God’s eschatological promises shape our daily living (i.e., the topic of primary importance that is unfamiliar to the hearers). Through a listing of the points of comparison, the hearers move from the known to the unknown. Analogical preaching sometimes includes objects and often is occasional, drawing the analogy from a recent and immediate experience in the lives of the hearers.
In this structure, the secondary topic needs to (1) be familiar to the hearers so that the preacher is not forced to explain two topics at once and the secondary topic might serve as a mnemonic device, (2) be of a different nature than the main topic so that it incites interest for the hearers in the comparison and (3) have a positive effect so that the hearers are not offended by the comparison. Also, the preacher needs to be aware that all analogies break down and thereby prevent his hearers from falling into that confusion, either by clarifying for them the limits of the analogy or avoiding development that would lead toward that error.
Sermon by Dr. Erik Herrmann preached in Concordia Seminary’s Chapel January 21, 2013:
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