Hershael York in SBTS Chapel 9/12: ‘For Such a Slime as This’

As an online student at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I try to tune in to every single chapel service via the live stream the seminary provides through their website. Today Dr. Hershael York, one of the best in the business, preached during the chapel service. Per usual, Dr. York is phenomenal in this sermon from Esther 2…yes…Esther 2. At one point I was crying from laughter and some time later I was crying from the reverent reality of God’s sovereignty in our sin and suffering. I needed to hear this sermon today. I hope it blesses you as it did me.



2 thoughts on “Hershael York in SBTS Chapel 9/12: ‘For Such a Slime as This’

  1. Dear Matthew,

    I am taking the liberty of addressing you on the topic of Herschael York’s sermon at chapel on 9/12. I am currently attending the seminary, where I attend every chapel service that I possibly can. My takeaway from the sermon was very different from yours. I was in fact very disturbed by what I heard. I considered the sermon to be an exercise in seeing how far one could fudge the lines of decency in the first half and then “redeem” it with an orthodox finish. I cannot give my approval to such preaching. I will propose questions in three general areas to help you think through the challenge I am offering you.

    First, given that York’s sermon was delivered to hundreds of future preachers, some of whom will be great men of God and some of whom will be scoundrels, how do you think a preacher in the latter category might emulate the model presented by York’s sermon? Do you think they might use his sermon structure as an excuse to engage in degrading and inappropriate tittilation for the sake of notoriety and laughs? Is there not a bad precedent set by this type of preaching?

    Second, at what point in the sermon did York ever call people to strive to lay aside their “messy lives” and strive to be Daniels and not Esthers? If all we say is that “for every Daniel there are thousands of Esthers”, and never call people to strive for better, do we not encourage them to continue in sinful choices glibly expecting that God will take care of them regardless? Is there not an antinomian tendency in this type of preaching?

    Third, if as York showed, the great body of preachers through history – the Luthers and Calvins and Rogerses – trod very carefully in the book of Esther, shouldn’t that be a warning to the wise to tread carefully as well? Should we “rush in where angels fear to tread”, or put another way, is Herschael York greater than Luther, Calvin, and Rogers? Would the second chapter of Esther perhaps be better understand, not as a stand-alone sermon, but in light of the fourth chapter, or put another way, maybe the old masters of the faith were wise to preach Esther the way they did? Is there not a real danger of pride in this type of preaching?

    I send this note to you for your benefit, by God’s grace, not as an invitation to warfare or as a personal attack. We who strive to be ministers of the Gospel can help sharpen one another as “iron sharpens iron.”

    God bless, Dan Tomlinson

    1. Dan,

      Like you, I listened to Dr. York’s sermon the other day, but I found it tremendously helpful and applicable to my own life. Some of the accusations you have made against Dr. York are greatly troubling to me, and I’d just like some clarification and examples of the things you apparently take issue with Dr. York and/or this sermon.

      First, you say you “considered the sermon to be an exercise in seeing how far one could fudge the lines of decency in the first half and then “redeem” it with an orthodox finish.” What lines of decency did Dr. York “fudge”? It seemed to me he went out of his way to keep it “Rated G.” He didn’t say, “Esther went in and had sex with the king.” Instead he said, “This one night with the king was intended to be exactly what we think it was.”

      You also accused Dr. York of “degrading and inappropriate titillation for the sake of notoriety and laughs.” Again, having watched this sermon multiple times, I fail to see where he is guilty of these charges. What did he say that was so “degrading?” What did he say that was inappropriate? And is it wrong to use humor to connect with the audience and help them understand what’s really going on in the text?

      Finally, with regard to Dr. York’s reference to men such as Luther, Calvin, and Rogers, I don’t think his point was that they “trod carefully.” In fact, I think it’s exactly the opposite. As great as these men were, and I would be the first to admit (and I feel confident in saying I believe Dr. York would as well) they are some of the biggest giants of the faith on whose shoulders we stand, they were nonetheless – men. They were not angels; they had no special revelation from God that is not available to us as well; they were not infallible. They were sinful men, saved by grace, with just as much room for error as you or I. I think what Dr. York was pointing out was that no matter how great these men were they still “missed it” in some areas. Clearly Martin Luther was wrong in many of his views concerning the canon of Scripture – he couldn’t stand James, didn’t like Esther, etc. Surely you wouldn’t stand with John Calvin in his views on paedobaptism. The point is – these men weren’t perfect, and it doesn’t make Dr. York a prideful preacher to challenge their beliefs in areas they were so clearly mistaken. As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are called to handle the Word of Truth faithfully and preach the “whole counsel” of God. I believe Dr. York is doing exactly that – taking a difficult text, and allowing the text to speak for itself.

      Please understand, I’m not angry with you and like you stated at the end of your post – I’m not trying to start a war either. But as one who has sat under the teaching of Dr. York and knowing his character and love for the Lord and his Word, the accusations you have make concern me greatly. If you could clarify the issues you have with Dr. York I’d greatly appreciate it.

      More Jesus, Less
      Pastor Josh Bonner

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