Theology of Preaching (2)

This is an abstract from a “Theology of Preaching” paper.

To a Particular Group of the People of God

Scripture is the word of God spoken in a context, and preaching is witnessing to the word of God in a context. In the Bible, God spoke to people in ways particular to their lives, situations, history, and culture, and in the same way, God continues to speak into our particular lives, context, history, and culture today. The claims the text makes on the people of God are the same then and now, but the context changes. This means that preaching must take seriously both the original context of the text as well as the context the text will be preached in, for God speaks to someone, not by making speaking distant claims and static doctrine towards the universe, but by speaking to particular people in a particular context. Preaching to a particular group of the people of God takes seriously that God speaks to a people in a context, and we must do the same.

We also preach to a particular group of the people of God because we are part of a particular group of the people of God. To again use Long’s witness image, “The witness is also not a neutral observer… the preacher as witness is one who stands in and with a particular community of faith.”[1] The preacher speaks to their particular community because the preacher cannot help but hear God’s word from within that community. A preacher cannot get to neutral ground to hear the word of God for everyone equally. As the preacher stands with a particular people, they hear what God is saying through the filter of all the things that make a unique community. And although they can listen for a people other than their own community, the act of preaching is, at its best, listening to what God has to say to a specific community of faith with its specific struggles and specific mission in a specific location and then testifying to what has been heard.[2] This definitely calls into question practices like video venues and church online where there is no particular known people of God.

We also preach in context because, when calling a people to adopt the story of God as their own, we must understand the story they are already living in. In moving from one story to another, people are beginning in many different places, and preaching must recognize the place where people begin as well as know which direction to point them towards the story of God. The preacher must know the story people are living in, with all its struggles, dispositions, practices, and truths, in order to be able to know how to call them into God’s story.

Part 3 will focus on what it means for God’s story to become their story. 

[1] Long, 50.

[2] Long, 50.


One thought on “Theology of Preaching (2)

  1. Hi, I am from Australia.

    Is the Bible really the word of “God”?
    Are you thoroughly familiar with the various church “fathers” who fabricated it to consolidate their worldly power and influence.
    And who thus used their now “official” brand of Christian-ISM to define “heretics” and “heresies” – and to thus eliminate the INEVITABLE “heretics”
    Which “God” ? Whose “God”?
    And why does everything have to turn out to be Christian?
    Especially as over 4 billion living-breathing-feeling human beings are not Christians. And none of the countless billions of heart-sensitive non-human sentient beings that live on this planet.
    Even more so when all of the Sacred Texts of the entire Great Tradition of humankind are freely available to anyone with an internet connection.

    Remember too that Jesus was not in any sense a Christian He was essentially a Jew.
    He was an outsider, a radical Spiritual Teaching who taught on the margins of the tradition of Judaism as it was in his time and place. He taught and demonstrated a radical, universal, non-Christian, non-sectarian, Spirit-Breathing Spiritual Way of Life that can be practiced by ALL heart-sensitive sentient beings, in any time and place.

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