1 Forty Years On: A Critical Reflection of Fred B. Craddock s New Homiletic Clint Heacock, PhD Springdale College, Birmingham UK Introduction Within its Western and North American traditions, preaching is currently experiencing a remarkable renewal. Preaching handbooks abound and are marked by their sheer volume, diversity and quality. Theological schools continue to add both homiletics faculty and courses, while voices from local congregations increasingly demand competent and relevant preaching. In addition the online conversation of the global community continues to influence and shape forms and methods of preaching as never before. 1 Despite the ongoing evolution of preaching, there is always the lurking danger that preachers will seek to avoid risk by maintaining the homiletical status quo. Seeking to play if safe, preachers who specialize in survival do not explore the cutting edge of homiletical forms and are in danger of ignoring the changing times. 2 For example, Western cultural and societal norms continue to shift toward an increasingly postmodern culture. 3 Therefore in order for churches to respond adequately to the surrounding culture and maintain a sense of cultural relevance, the need exists for preaching to be continually revitalized. This notion is certainly not new: much like any genre, in response to various factors preaching historically has evolved and will continue to evolve as its best practitioners modify it. 4 More than four decades ago, North American homiletician Fred B. Craddock made a major contribution to this on-going evolution of homiletics. His response to the challenges posed to traditional preaching by the sweeping societal and cultural changes of his day led Craddock to re-envision long established deductive preaching modes. Ultimately classified as the New Homiletic, his efforts resulted in the formulation of an inductive preaching model that opened to consideration the question of the form of the sermon itself. Whereas in traditional homiletics the form of the sermon had merely been assumed, Craddock awakened new interest among homileticians in the rhetorical techniques and forms of the biblical texts and the potential impact those forms could have upon the sermon itself. 5
2 This study offers a critical appraisal of Craddock s New Homiletic, now four decades since its inception. Beyond examining its potential strengths and weaknesses, this paper will continue the trajectory of the New Homiletic into the realm of contemporary and future preaching contexts. The paper begins by first briefly investigating various trends that led to the shaping of Craddock s model. Second, the paper assesses and critically interacts with three critiques levelled by homileticians at the New Homiletic. In order to extend Craddock s conception of the New Homiletic into the future, the paper concludes by suggesting three possibilities for continual homiletical revitalization. This involves a critical evaluation of liturgical contexts, multiple point-of-view sermons and finally the concept of doing what the text says and does in sermons. Trends Shaping the New Homiletic This article will not seek to reconstruct an exhaustive history of the New Homiletic as this has been done extensively elsewhere. 6 An important observation for the purposes of this paper, however, is the notion that the New Homiletic arose as a response to a series of cultural and intellectual shifts within Western society during the turbulent 1960s era. Contributing factors to this shift include the widespread questioning of traditional institutional authorities, the increasing influence of the media, advances in critical biblical studies and contemporary hermeneutics, and the rapidly shifting nature of public language. 7 Although at the time many concerned Christians viewed preaching as anachronistic, Craddock sought to defend it as an institution even though he freely admitted that it might not be entirely innocent of the charges being levelled against it. 8 Seeking to provide a stay of execution for preaching, in 1971 Craddock produced his groundbreaking work As One Without Authority. This timely publication resonated widely and deeply among homileticians because it brought together concerns that were already widely shared. 9 As homiletician H. Grady Davis had already observed years earlier, 10 Craddock similarly recognized that the traditional deductive three-point sermon was rapidly losing currency in the early 1970s and thus a new form was needed. 11 Craddock believed that many of the blows struck against the pulpit were not necessarily due to its particular faults, but rather because of its attachment to the organized church, which many viewed as a traditional and entrenched institution. One legacy of the turbulent 1960s era was to call into question
3 the status of virtually all traditionally authoritative institutions, whether religious, educational or political. 12 Halvorsen observes that in light of the multi-faceted social revolution of the 1960s, preachers could no longer assume that they were recognized authority figures, and thus could no longer assume that preaching, which merely articulated dogma, or exacted moral demands, would be perceived by the average congregation as an authoritative word. 13 Although perhaps deemed guilty by virtue of its association with the church, nonetheless traditional homiletics was one such institution being called into question. In terms of both its exegetical underpinnings and sermonic structure, deductive preaching had long been established as normative practice. 14 Utilizing an Enlightenment rationalistic hermeneutical paradigm, this homiletical mode attempted to distil biblical texts into propositions regardless of their original form or genre. 15 In the search for meaning, the goal of this ideational redaction was to grasp ideas that resided within a biblical passage and then to restate that main idea propositionally in the sermon. Preachers also utilized historical-critical methodologies to discover meaning within particular historical events behind the text, which oftentimes led to speculative reconstruction. 16 Once the preacher discovered the meaning residing in the text, those concepts were conveyed to listeners in a linear fashion through a series of logically-proven propositions or assertions. 17 Such sermons progressed by means of logical development and clear argumentation, and would oftentimes conclude with specific applications tailored by the preacher for the particular listening audience. Since these monologic sermons carried the entire communicative burden, the only choice facing hearers involved either accepting or rejecting the conclusions drawn by the preacher. 18 Such confrontational sermons contracted the hearer s experience to a decision or act of the will and ultimately paid little attention to their needs and circumstances. 19 In both verbal and nonverbal fashion such downward-aiming sermons not only presupposed but also furthered the authoritarian and authoritative status of the church, the sermon and the preacher. 20 In his critique of traditional preaching Craddock highlighted the connection between cognitive-propositional modes of understanding and communication and traditional deductive homiletical methods. This presented a major problem: in an increasingly democratic and dialogical world, Craddock wondered if the preacher
4 should continue serving up monological sermons. 21 As an initial response to the societal transformation of his day Craddock maintained that when the mode of understanding shifts, the homiletical method needs to shift as well. 22 In place of deductive sermons Craddock suggested an inductive homiletical method, which transferred the making of meaning from strictly the side of the interpreter or preacher to that of the listener. This model therefore sought to turn listeners from passive recipients into active participants and in the process elevated the roles of the listeners in the preaching event. 23 Such a move constituted a unique attempt to build community by lowering the status of clerical prestige while at the same time elevating the role of the listeners to new prominence. 24 Inductive preaching would ideally allow hearers to participate with the preacher in the interpretative process of the making of meaning. 25 This preaching form came to be known as the New Homiletic which is new in that it is a turning away from the old traditional preaching and the kerygmatic preaching of Karl Barth. 26 The connection with the new hermeneutic allowed the New Homiletic to introduce new ways of listening to Scripture, new ways of understanding reality, and provided an entirely new way of understanding preaching itself. 27 Reflecting upon the impact of Craddock s homiletical efforts, Thomas Long believes that he scored a direct hit with As One Without Authority, which still stands as one of the most important and influential books on preaching written in the last century. 28 Craddock s New Homiletic has directly contributed to the manifestation of a wide variety of homiletical forms. The common feature in these various modes of expression involves the sermon as the creation of an event whereby the preacher and the listeners are co-creators of the sermonic experience. 29 Homiletical forms of expression variously influenced by the New Homiletic include Lowry s homiletical plot form, 30 Buttrick s phenomenological sermons, 31 Rose s conversational or round table preaching model 32 and narrative or story preaching. 33 A Critical Evaluation of the New Homiletic Despite the positive influence of Craddock s New Homiletic on the world of preaching, since its inception homileticians have noted potential shortcomings also. This study next turns its attention to the following three critiques levelled at Craddock s New Homiletic by a variety of homileticians. The first concerns Craddock s claim to divest preaching of points and propositions. Although his model
5 idea. 35 This charge can be demonstrated with reference to Craddock s work appeared to block them at the front door he effectively welcomed idea-centred preaching through the back door. 34 Long points out that although truly in Craddock s scheme the preacher engages in an exciting inductive search through the text, but, when all is said and done, the goal of this adventure, the object of this quest, is an Preaching, where he states that in the sermon preparation phase the interpreter should be able to state the message of the text as simply as possible in a single sentence. 36 He holds that whatever it is termed theme, statement, governing idea, single affirmative sentence 37 this single-sentence message should ideally flow from the interpretation of the text. Such a governing idea, he maintains, creates a unified sermon. 38 In Craddock s scheme, although the preacher may not actually state the proposition during the sermon, ideally the audience inductively arrives at the same (or a similar) conclusion. Long observes that upon closer examination, it turned out after all that ideas from the text do come across Craddock s bridge between text and sermon. 39 Therefore Craddock appeared to be bound to the rationalist hermeneutical notion that a biblical text could be reduced to a single idea, and furthermore that preachers could convey that idea to an audience by means of an inductive process. Further complicating the issue, although Craddock s argument was compelling and intriguing preachers found his method difficult to apply in actual preaching situations. This may have been due to the inadequacy of Craddock s hermeneutic, which was unclear in terms of the alignment of biblical interpretation with sermonic formation. 40 Since the model was particularly vulnerable on this point, the resulting confusion led to the formation of something of a standoff among homileticians themselves. 41 Despite these issues and potential shortcomings, nonetheless Craddock s position was homiletically pivotal. Long maintains that the homiletical world turned around him. He stood at the junction between a deductive, idea-centered approach to preaching and an inductive, process-fueled, aesthetic approach, and he had one foot planted in each. 42 The second critique of the New Homiletic concerns the notion that the sermon event should ideally create an experience for the listener. Homileticians argue that such an aim has opened the door to a host of other problematic issues. On the one hand, positively the New Homiletic demonstrated both an increased concern for the listener and gave new attention to the creation of an affective experience for the
6 hearers. 43 Negatively, on the other hand, in the attempt to create an experience for listeners some preachers have trivialized Scripture by turning sermons into mere entertainment utilizing homiletical gimmickry. In this regard Radford maintains that the New Homiletic s privileging of the listener over the preacher has created a problematic situation: the status of the listener now takes priority over the authority of the biblical text. Thus for preachers attempting to employ Craddock s methods, the major concern becomes more about the creation of an experience and less about conveying biblical content. 44 Due to this emphasis on experience over biblical content the possibility exists that New Homiletic sermons do not bring about a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. Radford holds that in order to accomplish this goal preachers should employ other sermonic forms that contribute to knowledge and cognitive understanding. Moreover, he believes that the content of preaching in general has suffered with the application of New Homiletic principles; what listeners need, he maintains, is not an individualistically-oriented, experiential sermon. Radford maintains that instead of seeking to provide an experience for its own sake the sermon should supply background information regarding the literary and historical contexts of the biblical text. In this way he believes that listeners are better equipped to make informed decisions based upon their own experiences of the text. 45 Despite these charges to his model, in all fairness Craddock never intended for sermons to degenerate into homiletical gimmickry, mere emotionalism or experience for its own sake. Moreover he did not advocate the entire removal of direct forms of communication. 46 Detractors of the New Homiletic have argued that derivative sermonic forms have deteriorated either into mere storytelling or efforts to manipulate the emotions of the audience. Craddock believed, however, that sermons should establish relevance, hold interest and make an impact upon an audience. This is done as they identify with various characters and critical events portrayed in Scripture. 47 Maintaining that sermons should be presented with genuine insight, Craddock held that preachers should give primary attention to the specific and particular rather than the general, and that sermon materials should be realistic, rather than contrived for homiletical purposes. 48 Additionally he believed that people do not identify with the unreal, the exaggerated and the artificial, and warned against preachers attempting to manipulate an audience. Craddock argued that if a speaker tries to milk all the emotion out of an
7 event, emotion becomes emotionalism, and listeners sense the exploitation. 49 Rather than generating an experience for its own sake, crafting dubious trapdoor plots or engaging in mere storytelling, Craddock states that the preacher should instead ask: How can I capture and hold their attention long enough for them to hear and experience the text? 50 Maintaining that the method of communication itself generates the listener s experience, the preacher must give careful consideration to the style of delivery that best effects an experience and also enlists the listener s participation. 51 Despite the claim to avoid emotionalism, homileticians still take issue with Craddock s concept of the sermon as an experience even if the listener inductively experiences the text as he advocated. For example, Rose points out that homiletical scholars recognize that to expect a sermon consistently to change people may be expecting too much. And a number of scholars admit that preaching does a poor job of changing lives. 52 Experiential sermons cannot realistically be expected to transform a congregation consistently week after week. Although a single sermon can certainly transform, not every sermon should seek weekly transformation as its primary goal. 53 In the final analysis, however inductively it may be formatted, the type of transformative preaching advocated by Craddock still puts the burden upon the preacher to provide a self-contained experience for the listeners. The third and final critique of the New Homiletic is an extension of the above critique and concerns the gap between the pulpit and the pew. Rose points out that although Craddock took steps to close that gap he was unable to remove it entirely. In the New Homiletic the gulf still exists precisely because the preacher remains in the privileged position of the one who has already experienced the transformation that the congregation now needs to experience. 54 In Craddock s conception of preaching the congregation remains in the subordinate position as recipients whose options are rejecting or receiving those images and patterns, sights and sounds capable of effecting transformation. 55 The preacher, having already experienced exegetical insight in the sermon preparation phase, now faces the difficult task of figuring out how to re-create those insights so that the audience can share that experience. Although induction does indeed elevate the role of the listener somewhat, homileticians charge that Craddock s model does not entirely address the problem of the preacher s privileged and hierarchical position over the hearers. Upon closer inspection, however, Craddock s inductive sermon form does not advocate that the audience arrive at exactly the same conclusion already reached by
8 the preacher. Craddock states to the contrary that it is also true that preaching that recreates the experience of arriving at a conclusion would for the minister differ from her own study in all the ways that private experiences differ from those shared with others and in all the ways that people differ from books. 56 Craddock s notion of inductive preaching gives hearers not only increased freedom of choice, but also views them as spiritual people capable of finishing the message on their own with the aid of the Spirit. The indirect mode of communication he advocates views the listeners as free to choose; yet by permitting a response, a response is also demanded. 57 Theological conservatives in particular are troubled with this open-ended element of the New Homiletic, feeling that too much risk is involved when preachers do not state clear propositions, do not give clear applications and allow listeners to finish the sermon for themselves. 58 Nevertheless certain emerging and postmodern churches are following in the trajectory of Craddock s inductive model. Embracing the notion of lowering clerical prestige and raising audience participation, such churches are experimenting with contexts whereby increasingly the congregation is part of the act of sermon composition and design. 59 Sweet believes, for example, that in the future of homiletics the shape of sermon forms will be less about the dynamics of human absorption than the dynamics of human interaction. 60 Such congregations hold that seeking objectivity in biblical interpretation and sermons can both destroy community and the chance to experience new truth together. Preaching in a pluralistic context therefore frames preaching in terms of proposals and advocacies but does not seek to advance closed-off conclusions. 61 The New Homiletic: Informing Future Preaching This study concludes by seeking to build upon three aspects of Craddock s New Homiletic that can potentially inform future preaching modes, albeit with degrees of modification. Despite the potential shortcomings of the New Homiletic identified above, the possibility exists that certain recovered aspects of the model can still function as an adequate and faithful response to preaching in an increasingly postmodern and post-christendom society. 62 Currently preachers face the task of ministering to the children of those listeners that Craddock s revitalized sermons addressed a generation ago. 63 However, merely to attempt the uncritical application of the New Homiletic for contemporary listeners may not necessarily work, as
9 Thompson cautions: a homiletic that solved the problems of preaching in the final days of a Christian culture is not likely to be the solution to the problems of preaching in a post-christian culture. 64 Rather than maintaining the status quo or embracing novelty for its own sake, Quicke believes that preachers must develop an anticipatory style of leadership in which they learn, listen, and dare to preach afresh. One aspect of such leadership is a preacher s self-awareness of where he or she is in the range of preaching opportunities in the twenty-first century. 65 For contemporary preachers seeking to revitalize their preaching, the first such opportunity involves taking a fresh look at current liturgical and homiletical contexts. Craddock s understanding of preaching reflects the context of his day, which still largely fits within contemporary traditional church paradigms. He states that worldwide there is a weekly gathered assembly of believers who engage in worship. This act of worship involves narrating in word, act and song the community s memories and hopes, glorifying the God who redeems, enables, and sanctifies And in this time and place of prayer and praise we will preach. 66 In terms of sermon delivery Craddock maintains that the preacher must keep two factors in mind, the first of which concerns the physical context of a church building with a pulpit, a lectern and a choir. The second factor is the liturgical context of assembled believers. 67 Thus in Craddock s ecclesiology the normative activity of preaching takes place on a weekly basis within a physical church building and is but a part of the overall worship service itself. Although Craddock s views may still comfortably fit within the majority of Western traditional churches, due to its historical particularity it could not take into account the changing nature of church due to the encroachment of postmodern values 68 or the impact of globalization on local congregations. 69 For example, house church movements see little need for traditional church buildings; such informal gatherings will likely not see the need for a choir, an order of service or possibly even a sermon. Such models focus upon open and participatory mutual exhortation as a primary purpose for church gatherings rather than listening to traditional sermon forms delivered from a pulpit. 70 Allen observes that in this continuing evolution of preaching the very notion of homiletics may need to be deconstructed. This move requires preachers and congregations alike to face the weaknesses in the act of preaching and may ultimately call into question the continuing efficacy of preaching itself. Preaching as
10 deconstruction, Allen maintains, may in face lead the Christian community to consider whether the act of preaching is worth continuing. 71 If preaching is deemed irrelevant perhaps the church should cease that activity and put its energy into other more fruitful witnesses to the gospel. Conversely, if churches still deem traditional forms of sermons as still relevant, this may serve to reinforce the church's confidence in preaching. In this scenario sermons will continue not out of habit alone but rather because the community has a fresh sense of their importance. 72 Although at the time of his writing Craddock could not have anticipated these types of changes, the New Homiletic concept that the audience should be active participants in the sermonic process whatever form that participation takes remains a worthwhile value to explore for the future. Postmodern and emerging congregations desire active participation rather than passivity, embracing collaborative preaching styles that do not close down interpretative options but rather open up the Word so that listeners can interactively participate in the making of meaning. 73 The second aspect on which one can build upon the New Homiletic concerns the issue of multiple point-of-view sermon formats. Buttrick observes that traditional homiletical models typically utilize third-person speech that over time shapes the consciousness of the congregation. He argues that the grave difficulty with a thirdperson observational language in preaching is that it usurps God s position and, in so doing, turns God into an object, and God s Word into a rational truth. 74 Craddock was clearly aware of this issue, pointing out that the sermon form itself gains and holds interest, shapes the listener s experience of the material as well as the listener s faith, and determines the degree of participation demanded of the hearers. 75 In order to combat the tendency to utilize God-objectifying, third-person language week in and week out, Craddock advocated that preachers should represent at least one point of view from the text. Although he does not employ that specific terminology, he maintained that the exegetical goal of the sermon should be identification with the text. 76 This in turn raises the question the interpreter should ask of the text: At what point did I identify with the text? 77 By this Craddock referred to the relation to the text which has developed in the process of the exegetical work. 78 This statement refers to the point at which the preacher distances herself from the text, always keeping in mind that she must share that message with an audience. Craddock s point is that the interpreter, usually quite unconsciously, may
11 identify with or against certain characters or their actions within the text. 79 When constructing the sermon the preacher must consciously turn away from the tendency to identify with what Craddock identified as the best seats in the text 80 and instead make the effort to articulate alternate points of view. While providing a helpful point in advocating exegetical and homiletical balance, Craddock s view does not extend to that of multiple points-of-view sermons. He held that this is true mainly because listeners typically cannot track with more than one shift in point of view. Ideally events should be viewed from a single perspective unless the preacher specifically warns the audience of a shift to a second or third angle of vision. If the shifts are not signalled clearly, he warns that confusion destroys identification and the hearers feel the disadvantage The choice of perspective is determined by the desire to hear and receive the story, but once the choice is made, looking at the parable from other angles should be reserved for other sermons [one cannot] experience a sermon and identify with anyone or anything if the perspective is altered frequently. 81 In terms of sermon delivery Craddock s point is well taken. If a preacher decides to present multiple angles of vision in terms of characters perspectives, he should inform the audience that they will be hearing a variety of points of view in the sermon and those shifts should be clear. 82 As pointed out earlier, Buttrick provides the helpful insight that point-of-view in sermons shape congregational consciousness. Therefore he recommends that the preacher should regularly give voice to different perspectives as a rhetorical device when preaching and not as an occasional rhetorical device. 83 Since all language is perspectival, Buttrick states that we must understand that point-of-view is always in language and, therefore, must be integral to sermon design and development. 84 This is the case because language actually shapes perspectives in congregational consciousness Every shift in point-of-view will act on congregational consciousness, however whether we know it or not. 85 Preachers can therefore attempt to find a healthy balance between both Craddock and Buttrick s points. Regular shifts in point-of-view combat the tendency to turn the text into rational truths that objectify God. Skilfully delivered multiple point-of-view sermons can have tremendous value in bringing out the previouslyunheard perspectives of a wide variety of biblical characters. From a narratological standpoint, for example, the preacher can decide whose point of view with which he
12 or she will identify: for example, various characters on the narrative discourse level or that of the biblical narrator. 86 Moreover, multiple point-of-view sermons can fit well within a postmodern context by giving previously-unheard voices a say in the conversation. The preacher could present several characters focalizations without interpretative comment. This allows the audience the possibility to engage and to wrestle with their interpretations of a passage and potentially view the text from new frames of reference. A sermon presented as a narrative with multiple points-of-view can offer a potentially heuristic form that allows the worshipers to overhear multivalent proposals, interpretations, or wagers and, by the aid of the Spirit, decide their own conclusions. 87 While on the one hand some may view this approach as risky or unsatisfactory due to an apparent lack of interpretative closure, on the other hand it is equally risky for the audience not to participate. Sweet observes in this regard that despite the risks of participatory homiletical strategies, nonparticipation carries with it a greater risk. 88 Finally, the third aspect on which to build from the New Homiletic concerns the issue of the sermon saying and doing what the text says and does. One primary value of the New Homiletic is that the content and rhetorical function of the text should be mirrored in the content and rhetorical function of the sermon. Craddock argued that because a text is a communication from one person to another or to others, the text is doing as well as saying Here, then, one is simply asking what the text is doing. 89 For Craddock, the answer to the what is found in the form of the text: Whether a text is correcting, instructing, celebrating, or probing will often be revealed by its form. 90 He held that if the sermon attempts to do what the text does, then the preacher should appropriate the form since it captures and conveys function, not only during the interpretation of the text but also during the designing of the sermon. The sermon form may not be the same as that of the text; that is, while a sermon on a psalm may not itself be a psalm, still one does not want to move too far from the form of the text. 91 The major consideration for the preacher becomes ascertaining the rhetorical dynamics at work in the text and seeking to recreate those dynamics in the sermon. 92 As observed earlier, the primary goal of traditional homiletics involved the mining of Scripture in order to distil it into propositions, themes and assertions regardless of the original biblical genre. Textual form had little if any impact upon the final form of the sermon itself. Until the time of homileticians such as Davis and
13 Craddock, the view that the genres and forms of the text should inform the type of sermon form chosen had rarely been a homiletical consideration. Proponents of the New Homiletic, however, insist that the what and the how of biblical texts cannot be separated. 93 As a potential model for preaching forms, Scripture itself comprises a fertile diversity of genres that should stimulate preachers to explore a range of preaching options. 94 One possible way to explore this range of preaching options is to utilize various critical methodologies such as rhetorical criticism and narratology. 95 Rhetorical criticism can serve as an access point into the alternative world of the text and enables the preacher to re-create elements of the what and the how of a biblical text to an audience. 96 Such an approach helps to ensure a fundamental integrity to preaching by deriving both the message and design of the sermon from the same biblical source. 97 These exegetical and homiletical tools can function equally well to produce either propositional or narrative-styled sermons, depending upon the genre and rhetorical strategies of the text and those of the preacher. Additionally, by introducing dialogical elements into the process of sermon preparation, delivery and post-sermon discussion, the preacher s aim becomes less about seeking interpretative closure and more about seeking the elusive meaning that may be well in front of the interpretative community of a local congregation. 98
14 BIBLIOGRAPHY Allen, Ronald J. Preaching and Postmodernism. Interpretation 55 Number 1 (January 2001): Aristotle. Rhetoric. W. Rhys Roberts, trans. Mineola: Dover Publications, Berger, Peter L. The Desecularization of the World: A Global Overview. In The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999: Brown, Maurice. Preaching from the Round Table. Belleville: Essence Publishing, Brown, Callum G. The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation Oxon: Routledge, Brueggemann, Walter. Cadences of Home: Preaching Among Exiles. Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, The Word Militant: Preaching a Decentering Word. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, Buttrick, David. Homiletic: Moves and Structures. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, Corbett, Edward P.J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, Third Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Cosgrove, Charles H., and W. Dow Edgerton. In Other Words: Incarnational Translation for Preaching. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, Craddock, Fred B. As One Without Authority: Revised and With New Sermons. St. Louis: Chalice Press, Overhearing the Gospel. Danvers: Chalice Press, Preaching. Nashville: Abingdon Press, Davie, Grace. Religion in Britain Since 1945: Believing Without Belonging. Oxford: Blackwell, Davis, H. Grady. Design for Preaching. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, Eslinger, Lyle. Narratorial Situations in the Bible. In Mappings of the Biblical Terrain: The Bible as Text. Vincent L. Tollers and John Maier, eds. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1990: Eslinger, Richard L. The Web of Preaching: New Options in Homiletic Method. Nashville: Abingdon Press, Farris, Stephen. Limping Away With a Blessing: Biblical Studies and Preaching at the End of the Second Millennium. Interpretation Vol. 51 No. 4 (October 1997): Gibson, Scott M. Defining the New Homiletic. JEHS Vol. 3 No. 2 (September 2005): Halvorsen, Sergius. The New Homiletic A Retrospective. SVTQ 46 No. 1 (2002): Howell, Mark Anthony. Hermeneutical Bridges and Homiletical Methods: A Comparative Analysis of the New Homiletic and Expository Preaching Theory PhD Dissertation, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kimnach, Wilson H., Kenneth P. Minkema, and Douglas A. Sweeney, eds. Editor s Introduction. In The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999: ix-xlvii. Koptak, Paul E. Rhetorical Criticism of the Bible: A Resource for Preaching. TCQ Vol. LIV, No. 3 (August 1996): Lessing, Reed. Preaching Like the Prophets: Using Rhetorical Criticism in the
15 Appropriation of Old Testament Prophetic Literature. Concordia Journal 28 Number 4 (October 2002): Long, Thomas G. Preaching and the Literary Forms of the Bible. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, The Witness of Preaching: Second Edition. Louisville Westminster John Knox Press, What Happened to Narrative Preaching? JP 28 No. 4 (Pentecost 2005): Lovejoy, Grant. A Critical Evaluation of the Nature and Role of Authority in the Homiletical Thought of Fred B. Craddock, Edmund A. Steimle, and David G. Buttrick. PhD Dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lowry, Eugene. The Homiletical Plot: The Sermon as Narrative Art Form. Atlanta: John Knox, McClure, John S. The Roundtable Pulpit: Where Leadership and Preaching Meet. Nashville: Abingdon, Miller, Perry. The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Norris, Pippa, and Ronald Inglehart. Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge: CUP, Ong, Walter J. Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue: From the Art of Discourse to the Art of Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Quicke, Michael J. 360-Degree Preaching: Hearing, Speaking, and Living the Word. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, Radford, Shawn D. The Impact of Fred B. Craddock s Understanding of the Roles of the Listeners. PhD Dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, The New Homiletic Within Non-Christendom. JEHS Vol. 5 No. 2 (September 2005): Reader, John. Reconstructing Practical Theology: The Impact of Globalization. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, Reid, Robert Stephen. Postmodernism and the Function of the New Homiletic in Post-Christendom Congregations. Homiletic Volume 20 Number 2 (Winter 1995): Rollins, Peter. How (Not) to Speak of God: Marks of the Emerging Church. London: Paraclete Press, Rose, Lucy Atkinson. Sharing the Word: Preaching in the Roundtable Church. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, Spears, Aubrey. The Theological Hermeneutics of Homiletical Application and Ecclesiastes 7: PhD Thesis, University of Liverpool, Sweet, Leonard. The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, Thompson, James W. Preaching Like Paul: Homiletical Wisdom for Today. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, Viola, Frank. Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, Wilder, Amos N. Early Christian Rhetoric: The Language of the Gospel. London: SCM Press, Wilson, Paul Scott. Preaching and Homiletical Theory. St Louis: Chalice Press, 2004.
16 1 Eslinger, Web of Preaching, Quicke, 360-Degree Preaching, While acknowledging the increasing rise of postmodern thought within Western society, this statement is not intended to uphold the secularization thesis which held that the encroachment of secularism would result in the inevitable decline of churches and levels of religious activities. This thesis has come under increasing amounts of criticism. See for example Berger, The Desecularization of the World ; Norris and Inglehart, Sacred and Secular Chapter 1; Davie, Religion in Britain, ; and Brown, The Death of Christian Britain, Kimnach, Minkema and Sweeney, Editor s Introduction, xi. Factors influencing this evolution of homiletics include: advancements in critical biblical studies, various theological and hermeneutical shifts, and the degree of influence of classical rhetoric both within the church and society. Thompson points out that As historians of preaching have observed, at strategic moments preaching has responded to changed cultural situations, and new sermon strategies have replaced older forms, revitalizing the preaching ministry (Preaching like Paul, 1). 5 Long, Preaching and the Literary Forms, 12; Farris, Limping Away, 363. Farris observes that a second contribution to this shift in homiletics was James Muilenburg s 1968 SBL presidential address on biblical rhetorical criticism, which brought a new attention to the literary structures and patterns in the final form of the biblical text. 6 On this history see: Howell, Hermeneutical Bridges and Homiletical Methods, Chapters 1-2; Spears, The Theological Hermeneutics, Chapters 2-3; Radford, The Impact of Fred B. Craddock s Understanding ; Lovejoy, A Critical Evaluation ; Rose, Sharing the Word, Chapter 3; Eslinger, Web of Preaching, Chapter 1; and Gibson, Defining the New Homiletic. 7 Eslinger, Web of Preaching, 17, Craddock, As One Without Authority, 4. 9 Cosgrove and Edgerton, In Other Words, Davis s 1958 work Design for Preaching criticized traditional homiletics and called instead for an organic union of homiletical form and content. Davis argued that the right form derives from the substance of the message itself, is inseparable from the content, becomes one with the content, and gives a feeling of finality to the sermon (Design for Preaching, 9). 11 Cosgrove and Edgerton, In Other Words, Craddock, As One Without Authority, Halvorsen, The New Homiletic, Eslinger, The Web of Preaching, Ibid., 77. Craddock observes that the development of historical-critical biblical studies contributed directly to the separation of form and content. Content became essential and form became incidental, accessory and not substantive, and oftentimes merely decorative (Overhearing the Gospel, 72). 16 Farris, Limping Away, 362. He states that the role of careful historical-critical exegesis was to provide a tested and defensible proposition from the particular text for the particular sermon (361). 17 Cosgrove and Edgerton, In Other Words, 12. Allen points out that the modern preacher attempted to offer an understanding of Christian faith that was consistent with Enlightenment presuppositions concerning truth (Allen, Preaching and Postmodernism, 35). This mode can be traced in part to the work of 16 th -century rhetorician Peter Ramus, who divided classical rhetoric into two categories of logic and rhetoric. As a result preaching particularly in the Puritan tradition became associated with first proving one s point logically from the Scriptures and then secondarily utilizing rhetoric to appeal to the emotions. For more on this see Ong, Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue; Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, 556; and Miller, New England Mind, Craddock, As One Without Authority, Craddock, Overhearing the Gospel, 113, Craddock, As One Without Authority, Ibid., 15. Craddock pointed out that the preacher s own seminary education militated against the traditional model of homiletics. Most classes are democratic and dialogical in nature: The seminary experience has increasingly become one of seminars, discussion, and participation groups where all speak and all listen The minister may feel the appearance of the preacher in the pulpit is a contradiction of seminary experience and of the other aspects of ministry (15). 22 Ibid., Radford, The New Homiletic, Craddock commented that If, however, the minister laments the loss of former clerical prestige due to the processes of dialogue, he has reason to celebrate the recovery of the sense of the church as a
17 community. The words community and communication must not lose sight of each other (As One Without Authority, 26-27; italics his). 25 Ibid., Gibson, Defining the New Homiletic, 19. Craddock s conception of the inductive sermon was not entirely new; both H. Grady Davis and W.E. Sangster had proposed induction as a viable homiletical method years earlier (see Radford, The Impact, 82). 27 Ibid., Long, The Witness of Preaching, Gibson, Defining the New Homiletic, Gibson states that Craddock s emphasis on induction, plot, and movement in the sermon has inspired preachers in their conception and practice of sermon structure (23). 30 See Lowry, The Homiletical Plot. 31 See Buttrick, Homiletic: Moves and Structures. 32 See Rose s, Sharing the Word. In fairness she goes beyond many of Craddock s conceptions but builds upon the elements of democratic and dialogic preaching he initially advocated. 33 Long, What Happened to Narrative Preaching? 10. Although Craddock did not call for narrative preaching, his inductive method can certainly use stories but does not demand them. Long maintains that It was, rather, Craddock s practice more than his theory that put him in the forefront of the renaissance of narrative preaching (10, italics his). Although initially welcomed as a respite from traditional sermon forms, during the 1970s and 80s many preachers uncritically jumped on the narrative preaching bandwagon without a true understanding of its theoretical basis. Reduced to homiletical novelty, narrative preaching came under fire by conservatives, moderates and liberals alike and has largely been abandoned in North American preaching. However, narrative preaching that takes its shape from the forms of the biblical genres still remains a distinct homiletical possibility of exploration. 34 Long, The Witness of Preaching, Ibid., Craddock, Preaching, Craddock, As One Without Authority, Craddock, Preaching, Long, The Witness of Preaching, Eslinger, The Web of Preaching, Long, The Witness of Preaching, Ibid., Gibson, Defining the New Homiletic, Radford, The Impact, Ibid., 168. While this may be a valid point, at the same time Radford s scheme would seem to contribute to the gap between pulpit and pew by casting the preacher as the expert who alone can provide this vital information for the listeners. But by leaving the final decision up to the listeners, it is unclear in the final analysis what role the preacher as a congregational leader plays. 46 Craddock, Overhearing the Gospel, 88. He observes that Which to employ [direct or indirect forms of communication] more noticeably in a given situation would depend heavily on the condition and expectation of the hearers (88). 47 Craddock, Preaching, 162. He also notes in Overhearing the Gospel that In the church we are doing more than telling anecdotes and sharing illustrations (135). 48 Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., 167. This issue of the use of emotionalism for its own sake has been a criticism of rhetoric since classical times. Aristotle in his Rhetoric Part 2 states that speakers should not avoid appeals to emotion as a rhetorical strategy for persuading an audience. Aristotle, however, carefully links such a strategy to the ethos of the speaker as well as the logical soundness of the case presented. Mere emotional manipulation of an audience, he states in Part 1, such as the arousing of prejudice, pity, anger and other similar emotions in reality has little to do with the actual facts of the case being presented. 51 Craddock, Overhearing the Gospel, 113, 123, Rose, Sharing the Word, Ibid., Ibid., 78.
18 55 Ibid., 78. In her conception of round table preaching, Rose completely rejects the gap metaphor believing it is largely a result of male-dominated theological and hermeneutical systems in the Western tradition. These systems value separateness and cast the preacher as a separate knower with knowledge to impart to the congregation (78). 56 Craddock, As One Without Authority, Craddock, Overhearing the Gospel, Conservatives argue for example that open-ended narrative-styled sermons are too soft and too doctrinally unclear, are ethically ambiguous and not evangelistic enough (Long, What Happened to Narrative Preaching? 12). 59 Sweet, The Gospel According to Starbucks, 84. Rose s round-table preaching model seeks a understanding of preaching that is communal, heuristic, and non-hierarchical (Preaching the Word, 1). See also McClure, The Roundtable Pulpit, and Brown, Preaching from the Round Table. 60 Sweet, The Gospel According to Starbucks, Brueggemann, The Word Militant, Despite the criticisms levelled at it, Reid argues that the New Homiletic may be in the best position to inform postmodern audiences because of its emphasis on the Isocratean sophistic form of rhetoric that seeks to create an experience for the audience. He argues: Regardless what people may say, what they appear to want is an experience that moves them. Thus, regardless of theological stripe, this is the rhetorical strategy of preaching that is increasingly commensurate with the emerging postmodern sensibility ( Postmodernism and the Function of the New Homiletic, 10-11, italics his). 63 Thompson, Preaching Like Paul, Ibid., Quicke, 360-Degree Preaching, Craddock, Preaching, Ibid., Reid observes one effect of postmodernism: The Christendom paradigm that has defined the mission of the church to all these centuries is giving way to something else; something different. And it leaves behind structures of denominations, theologies, hierarchies, priorities, roles and commitments that all need to be reconfigured for a new age where Christianity can no longer be assumed as part of the cultural ethos or interests, in a world in which Christian congregations may increasingly be viewed with suspicion, incredulity, even hostility. Skepticism concerning the relevancy of Christianity and the church is no longer a prerogative of the privileged few ( Postmodernism and the Function, 2). 69 For example, Reader argues that in this era of globalization traditional boundaries have blurred, such as the distinction between urban and rural and those formerly between nations. Thus no longer can churches appeal to a sense of place as defined by a specific locale. In the traditional view still held by many churches, the underlying supposition is still that this relationship between people and a specific building is the ideal configuration (Reconstructing Practical Theology, 19). 70 Viola, Reimagining Church, Allen, Preaching and Postmodernism, Ibid., Craddock, Preaching, 195. See also Rollins, How (Not) to Speak of God, 36; Wilson, Preaching and Homiletical Theory, 31; and Sweet, The Gospel According to Starbucks, Buttrick, Homiletic, Craddock, Preaching, Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., The multiple point-of-view sermon should signal that possible interpretive meanings are multiple as well, and that there are more ways to understand a particular text than there are characters in the text. 83 Buttrick, Homiletic, Ibid., 57 (italics his). 85 Ibid., Narratologically the characters on the level of the narrative discourse exist on a lower diegetic level than that of the third-person narrator. One example of multiple points of view from a biblical narrative would be the variety of characters within the book of Jonah: the sailors on the ship, the Ninevites, Jonah himself, Yahweh, or the narrator s point of view.