How To Make An Argumentative Sermon

How To Make An Argumentative Sermon

You may have read that title and thought that this was going to be a post about getting the better of all those people in your audience that don’t agree with you.  That’s not what this is about!  This topic, how to make an argumentative sermon for your church, is a continuation of last week’s post, where we began looking at some new “maps”, or structures for your sermon.  An argument doesn’t have to be a disagreement.  Rather, it is giving truth in a deductive way.  Let’s look at this together.

Making The Argument

In the last post, I introduced the ideas about new maps, as described by Kenton Anderson in his book, Choosing to Preach.  The first of those new maps is what he calls “The declarative sermon”.  Here is how he describes this type of sermon map:

Declarative preachers present arguments for the gospel.  Like a lawyer, the preacher arranges the facts and puts the case before people in as convincing a manner as possible.  The sermon is deductive in orientation, which is to say that the ideas of the sermon are given more than they are discovered.  It is cognitive in form, which means its appeal is logical more than emotional.  Thus, this form of preaching appeals to those who learn through watching and thinking.  (p. 133)

I like that picture of the lawyer before a jury, laying out all the facts of the case to try to convince the people in the jury box that he’s right.  He’s presenting truth.  In that sense, this is a good guide on how to make an argumentative sermon effective.

An Example of an Argumentative Sermon

C. S. Lewis

Here’s an example of an argumentative sermon.  C.S. Lewis, in his classic book Mere Christianity, gives this argument.

Any man who was only a man and who said the kinds of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. (Mere Christianity paperback, p. 52) 

The argument

Here are the premises of the argument:

  • People who claim to be God when they are not God are either lunatics or liars.
  • Crazy people are not usually good.


  • Jesus claimed to be God.
  • He was not crazy.
  • Jesus was not deceitful.

Therefore, Jesus must be what he claimed to be: God.

So the argument sermon is really a carefully reasoned message.

A Helpful Outline for the Argumentative Sermon

Anderson gives a helpful overall outline for an argumentative or declarative sermon that will help you as you think about this kind of message:

Introduction:  Here there would be something like, “We’re going to talk about _______ today.  I want you to see the truth of what God says in this passage.”

Point 1




Point 2





Example of An Argumentative Preacher

John MacArthur

There are many examples of preachers who use this “map” in the United States.  One of the better-known ones is John MacArthur Jr.  He is a preacher, a seminary professor and author.  He uses this style a great deal, and argues for it in his book, Rediscovering Expository Preaching.   Here’s an example from his preaching and his book of a sermon on I Timothy 6:11-14.  His premise is that there are ways you can recognize the man of God:

  • What he flees from (vs. 11a)
  • What he follows after (vs. 11b)
  • What he fights for (vs. 12)
  • Whom he is faithful to (vs. 13-14)

The argument here is that there are many who claim to be people of God, but not all who make the claim are genuine.

The Right Attitude

There is a danger that I’ve found in using this style or “map”.  You can come off as angry.  Elsewhere I’ve told the story of the time I was walking and practicing my sermon early on a Sunday morning.  A policeman saw me, and pulled over next to me.  He asked how I was, and I told him I was fine.  He said, ‘Well, I’m concerned, because I see you talking to yourself, and sometimes you seem pretty angry.”  That sermon was this kind, an argument.  We don’t want to come off as angry to God’s people, do we?  Sometimes when we are expressing righteous anger, this attitude might work, but for the argument sermon I want to be loving and accepting, even when I’m drawing a line in the sand with my arguments.  Even then I want to present Jesus to people.

So, this is how to make an argumentative sermon for your church.  It will be helpful.  Use this style to present truths to your church.  Here’s an example for you to watch if you have the time.