Monday, 15 December 2008

Two Books on Preaching

Read two books on preaching last week. One was a big disappointment the other a pleasant surprise.

Doug Pagitt's Preaching Re-imagined is well worth a read. Should only take four or five hours. Doug is one of the leading lights on the American emerging church scene. Here he joins those voices raising serious questions about monologue preaching or speeching as he calls it. He proposes instead an approach that he dubs progressional dialogue. I liked this. It resonated with a notion that I have been working on that conceives of preaching as the initiation of a discussion. What I could have done with though was a bit more of an idea of how this actually works out in practice. An appendix with a transcript in an appendix perhaps. Or alternatively a free return plane ticket to Minneapolis to see for my self.

Anabaptist Preaching was deeply disapointng. I had been hoping that it would live up to the subtitle, a conversation between pulpit, pew and bible. No such luck. Only one chapter in this symposium was on the money in this regard and that itself is non too substantial. As for the other chapters far too many were rather light weight and very few had anything remotely distinctive to offer. I had imagined that such a book would introduce me to a tradition less wedded to the traditional monologue but I reckon I'm going to have to look elsewhere.


Andy Goodliff said...

I'm sure you know about it but Jeremy Thompson's Preaching as Dialogue (Grove Booklet)

Glen Marshall said...

Yes, thanks Andy, I am familiar with this. If you stumble across anything else on this area though I'd be interested.

Phil B said...

Let me describe Doug's church:

Imagine your front room. Now enlarge that scene to incorporate 50 sofas and the people to fill it. Make sure all the people are in their twenties and wearing Birkenstocks or you won't get the vibe right.
Now stand in the middle of the room and with the help of a video screen talk about how God loves you and we should all be cool with that.

Whatever you do, DON'T talk about sin, hell, death, judgement and Christ's death for sinners.

Then sing some songs about feeling empowered and full of love, perhaps while holding the hand of the girl sat next to you while you're hugging another and go out and buy organic food.

Can you tell I'm not a fan. ;-)

Glen, why are you so interested in non-monologues when the evidence is that God has used the monological sermon to bring renewal to his church for millennia? OT prophets, Jesus, Peter at Pentecost and the apostles through the whole of Acts, Paul, the church fathers, the Reformation (which was a rediscovery of preaching), the Puritan era in England, the preaching of Edwards, Whitefield and Wesley and the great Baptist, Spurgeon. It seems clear that God's ordinary means of grace is through the (monological) preaching of the Word. Why scrap it?

Right, my apologies for coming and causing trouble. I'll be off.

Glen Marshall said...

Mmmm sounds interesting. If you really want to put me off perhaps you should pay for that return plane ticket so that I can be horrified in person.

What makes you think I want to scrap monological preaching? Part of the problem it seems to me is that people instinctively divide into one of two camps. Either this is THE God-ordained way of engaging with scripture, or it is nigh on demonic and utterly irredeemable.

I think both approaches are misguided. If you want to know why and what I propose instead you'll have to wait and buy the book.