Preaching is, at its essence, proclamation. I think we can all agree on that. I think we can also agree that the method for our preaching is to proclaim ("preach") the Word. Obviously, we are also commanded to preach "the gospel," but we who are 21st century Paleoevangelicals understand (hopefully) that the gospel is revealed exclusively through the Word.
I suppose one might stand in a pulpit and proclaim something. That would meet the essential technical definition of "preaching." What is proclaimed might even be true. That does not mean that the preacher has preached the Word.
My conclusion, which I suppose not everyone will accept, is that the preacher has no divine authority to preach a message that is not grounded in the Word. If he preaches biblical truth but fails to defend it from his text in the Word, he has not preached the Word. He may have spoken truth. He may have helped people in some way. God may have worked mightily through what he said.
But I'll say it again. He has not preached the Word.
I write all this simply because yesterday SI published an article that advances the notion that preachers are not bound to restrict their message to the truth contained in their alleged text, as long as what they say is consistent with Scripture as a whole. I appreciate the sentiment that seems to have motivated the article. Pride is always a bad thing, whether it is seated in the pew, planted on a couch, or speaking in a pulpit. Or typing on a keyboard.
Two questions come to mind:
1. If a preacher says good things but does not defend them from the text, isn't it just good advice, not preaching?
2. How are preachers who say good things without defending them from the text different from exegetical charismatics who follow similar methodology in what they consider to be the gift of prophecy?
Sam Sutter, the author, alluded to some admittedly difficult texts related to the use of the OT in the NT in his article, and Tom Pryde has written a helpful response. My cautiously articulated opinion is that the OT texts were used appropriately by the NT authors, who understood the Messianic nature of the OT far better than we do today. For further information on one of the texts Sutter notes, see this article:
John H. Sailhamer, “Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15,” Westminster Theological Journal 63.1 (2001): 87-95.
If you want to investigate the matter in depth, set aside some serious time and read Sailhamer's Pentateuch as Narrative. The bibiliographical information there is quite helpful as well.