In the context of a much larger conversation about Homiletics (The art of Preaching), the usefulness of the same, and more specifically, the Festival of Homiletics, Michael Frost made the following statement:
“We need to discover what it means to be the church in our time, rooted in the traditions in the past, but not limited to them, and based firmly on the Word of God.”
He further quotes Walter Brueggemann here:
“The prince of darkness tries frantically to keep the world closed, and yet against such enormous odds there is the working of this feeble, inscrutable, unshackled moment of the sermon. Sometimes the prince will win the day and there is no new thing will be uttered or heard. Sometimes, however, the sermon will have its say and the truth looms large. When that happens, the world is set loose towards healing… Where the poetry of the sermon is sounded the prince knows a little of his territory has been lost to its true ruler.”
Brueggemann also says in The Word Militant: Preaching a Decentering Word
“The preacher traffics in a fiction that makes true. But that is why preaching is so urgent and must be done with such art.”
I questioned the usefulness of homiletics because of the way it props up the idea of preaching from behind pulpits as the ‘driving force’ of gospel proliferation. I also suggested that there is a danger in distorting the full activity of an organically functioning APEST (Ephesians 4:11,12,13) because of giving, like always, too much weight to the preacher-pastor role at the expense of apostles, prophets, and evangelists. Homiletics is to preachers as _________ is to prophets etc. See what I mean?
I agree with Neil Cole’s assessment here:
“We presume that our Sunday functions of preaching the Word from a pulpit to an audience is not only Biblical, it is central to what church is all about. While this isn’t a bad thing to do each week, it is not commanded in the Scriptures and is not what church is all about in the NT.” In fact, Neil says, “the word for preaching in the NT is almost always exclusively used of presenting the gospel to those who do not yet follow Christ.” Read the Full Article Here
There are many issues to be worked through here regarding ‘preaching’s’ role in the new covenant church. Here are a few questions off the top of my head:
1. Is preaching from behind pulpits the driving force of gospel proliferation or mission?
2. By training people in homiletics, aren’t we facilitating and encouraging the clergy/laity divide?
3. If preaching is the transmission/proclamation/communication of the gospel, then shouldn’t it be done primarily where the people who need it live?
Those questions are secondary to this post. Michael’s quote was the catalyst for this piece and struck me as a very profound proposition.
Do we “need to discover what it means to be the church in our time, rooted in the traditions in the past, but not limited to them, and based firmly on the Word of God?”
How would it look to “discover what it means to be the church in our time?”