Theology for Preaching: Authority, Truth, and Knowledge of God in a Postmodern Ethos

by Ronald J. Allen, Barbara Shires Blaisdell, and others. Abingdon Press, 1997.

Ministers in today’s congregations are called to examine how postmodernism reflects new needs the church can meet and offers emerging theologies previously undiscovered. This resource begins with a general discussion about the definition of post modernity and specifically what the post modern world values: plurality, difference, and community. Given these new postmodern priorities, the preacher’s purpose has shifted drastically. Previously, preachers were authority figures responsible for passing on tradition. The postmodern preacher, by contrast, discerns and articulates the relevance of the biblical narrative to the lives of a people in a given time, place, and circumstance. This new religious leader has complete respect for tradition and critical awareness of the current life experiences of individuals and their shifting communities.

Particularly helpful for preachers is the chapter on the shift in sermon discourse. While preachers today inherit pre-modern (speaking in the words of the tradition) and modern (persuading persons of scriptural truth) modes of communication, the postmodern preacher must integrate these into a new way of sharing God’s story. Ministers do this by using language that communicates boundaries (what is right and wrong) as well as language that identifies and manages the realities of tensions (between self and community, between self and God).

This resource helps ministers understand preaching as an effective tool for relating who God is and how God continues to be central to our lives in a postmodern society.