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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Task of Preaching

Lead Christians to claim their heritage.

Walter Brueggemann, “Poetry in a Prose-Flattened World”, Comment, Winter 2023, pp. 45 ff. 

Brueggemann writes on the task of preaching today, which is to break out of the lockstep of mere prose into more creative and challenging use of language, to open hearers to the larger possibilities of the spiritual realm.

Believers have reduced the Gospel to the language of our secular age, forfeiting all imagination for a simple statement that can be affirmed without commitment. Brueggemann says the task of the preacher is no different from that of the poet or prophet of Scripture, to be “a voice that shatters settled reality and evokes new possibility in the listening assembly." He calls for preaching that is more imaginative and affective, to move people away from predictable narratives into the realm of poetic freedom and newness.

Preachers are not called to help their listeners learn how to use the truths of Scripture to cope in the modern world. Their duty is to herald the new world, to project new and more expansive visions and possibilities, and to call people to claim their true heritage of faith and the Spirit and live beyond the limits of our materialistic age: “I want to consider preaching as a poetic construal of an alternative world. The purpose of such preaching is to cherish the truth, to open the truth from its pervasive reductionism in our society, to break the fearful rationality that keeps the news from being new.”

Brueggemann has some excellent and important insights to the work of preaching, teaching, and writing (though his focus is only the first). We must not underestimate either the reality of the Kingdom and the unseen realm or the power of words to open souls to that reality for new freedom, power, and joy.

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