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A Word to Preachers

25 January 2010

For heaven’s sake, don’t tell me how to live, piont-by-piont.

Instead, invite me into a world larger than my own, a world suffused with the character and intentions of a good, gracious, and purposeful God, to whom the life and teachings of Christ bear witness.  Do not spoon-feed (and therefore patronize) me; instead, force me to think, to reason, and to wrestle.  Force me to appropriate the text for myself, to make it my own, so that I develop the musculature by which I can learn to live without behavioral formulae and rote prescriptions.  Do not seek to make me dependent on you.  Show me a map, and teach me to use it rightly, but do not presume to navigate it for me.  Show me the grand horizons, the notable landmarks, and the goal, but not the path itself.  Who is to say that perhaps God would not have me thrash the willows or break new trail?

Thanks.  Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.


P. S.  Keep an eye out here.  Brueggemann is coming!  In two volumes:  The Word Militant:  Preaching a Decentering Word and Theology of the Old Testament:  Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy.  Amazon’s two-day shipping can’t get ’em here fast enow.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 25 January 2010 9:50 pm


    On Sundays, I am teaching Revelation to people who mostly prefer to be at ease in Zion, myself included all too often. Revelation is so foreign, so ancient, so incendiary, so incandescent and impossibly hopeful for modern pious, dispensational sentimentality–and yet so astringent for those of us who today, every day, want, somehow, to touch the hem of the risen Jesus’ garment. One mustn’t moralize but join those on and in the Way. And share with John and his sisters and brothers “the suffering, the Kingdom, and the patient endurance.” (1:9) Behold what is on either side of the Kingdom. Not what we self-indulgents desire.


  2. 26 January 2010 2:15 pm

    qb’s not sure, but he thinks he has just been on the receiving end of a gentle, poetic, oblique rebuke. The obliqueness is what makes for tricky exegesis…qb

  3. 26 January 2010 9:40 pm


    Notice that I included myself in this mess, my brother. Not really a rebuke but an observed sadness because of our weak flesh. We don’t seek out suffering but ours is in no way the magnitude of John’s or his brethren. As to the patient endurance, I suppose that applies not only to acceptance of suffering in some way but also challenging ourselves to patiently endure our officious and priggish sisters and brothers among whom we can find ourselves after being reminded by sometimes priggish and officious brothers that we can be priggish and officious. If you get my drift . . . . All we like sheep have gone astray. Thanks be to the Good Shepherd. May we not only hear His voice but run to Him, knowing that He will take us to His bosom. Oh, to be pure and and listening and prophetic.


  4. 27 January 2010 8:48 am

    Oh, but I *did* notice that. Had I listened to my gut, I would have concluded that’s precisely what you were saying, elegantly I might add.

    You know, Coop, this whole line of inquiry makes me long for *synagogue* rather than *church*. It’s not, at root, a rejection of ecclesial authority; it’s a rejection of a certain brand of it. We need more Gandalfs, sages who teach with quiet and patient wisdom and who show us how to learn things on our own, thereby exhibiting the same trust to which they are calling us.

    This applesauce gospel, delivered in tight, predigested packages from the one to the many, is growing deeply tiresome. Far better to follow the lead of the cheetah cubs’ mama, who brings the kill to the den and then stands aside as the little ones figure out what to do with it.


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