This semester we are working with students on the whole area of preaching. Earlier this week, we explored different models of the preacher (drawn from Tom Long’s excellent The Witness of Preaching and modified by Nah Then’s Glen Marshall). I located myself, reluctantly, in the Herald category, with aspirations to be more of a Poet, and a recognition that I may belong in Long’s category of Witness. This quotation from a recent post by William Willimon helped to clarify my initial instinct however:
Sometimes in leaning over to speak to the modern world, I fear that we
may have fallen in! When, in our sermons, we sought to use our sermons
to build a bridge from the old world of the Bible to the new modern
world, the traffic was only moving in one direction on that
interpretive bridge. It was always the modern world rummaging about in
Scripture, saying things like "This relates to me," or, "I’m sorry,
this is really impractical," or, "I really can’t make sense out of
that." It was always the modern world telling the Bible what’s what.
don’t believe that the Bible wants to "speak to the modern world."
Rather, I think the Bible wants to change, convert the modern world.
This isn’t the whole truth, and it is no surprise that Willimon has recently published a book on Barth on preaching, but there is something there that many preachers could learn from.