Here’s what I think success in teaching looks like. I remember how my life was changed when I repeatedly witnessed a man in the act of loving a poem. My English professor in college…kept delving so deeply into the poems he taught and showing us how to do likewise, that I no longer remember much of what he said. In part because of his example, I’ve had so many encounters with poetry since then that I can no longer tell what I learned from him and what I learned later. I no longer remember his words, but I do remember the poems. They have been part of my life ever since he first introduced me to them.
That’s what a teacher’s success looks like. It works the same way, I think when you’re teaching the word of Christ. The congregation doesn’t need to remember the words of your sermon. What matters is that God’s word has once again made its way into their hearts and etched itself a little deeper there, so that Christ himself may dwell in their hearts by faith. That’s the ongoing formation of the heart that makes the really lasting change in our lives.
from Good News for Anxious Christians (2010), 188-9.
PS from Gilbert Meilaender
We should not aim at a sermon that people can remember and discuss over the dinner table. That notion–“What was the sermon about today?”–encourages us to think of the sermon as something to be remembered: a piece of teaching and application. But it is not. A sermon is a moment of proclamation within the worship of the congregation. A moment in which to seek a way to let God’s love for us be spoken.
from “Forde, Jenson, and Preaching,” Dialog 30.1 (1991), 59.
Know Thyself… Am I right to catch a pattern or convergence of logic between these three comments? Theologian Someone rightly said, “A person either has character or he invents a method.” I believe that and have been trying for years to trade method for character. from Hans Frei, Types of Christian Theology, Eds. Hunsinger and […]
Where Theologians Belong: Behind the Pulpit.
This list was long overdue. I offer it both to beginners and to the more seasoned. If you’re new to theology, sermons can be a great entry point, and more immediately nourishing. If you’ve already been around the block once or twice, you may find that retaining sermons in your reading diet goes a long way toward keeping your focus on the one thing needful. Here are some favorites, and more. Most are fairly contemporary theologians. I’ve tried to draw from a variety of traditions.
- American Sermons: The Pilgrim’s to Martin Luther King Jr., (Library of America, 1999)
- Preaching with Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons, 1750 to the Present, (Norton, 2010)
- Robert Barron, Word on Fire: Proclaiming the Power of Christ, (Crossroad, 2008)
- Karl Barth, The Early Preaching of Karl Barth: Fourteen Sermons, (WJKP, 2009)
- —, Deliverance to the Captives, (Wipf&Stock, 2010)
- —, The Word in this World: Two Sermons, (Regent, 2007)
- Frederick Beuchner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons, (HaperCollins, 2007)
- Hans Boersma, Sacramental Preaching. (Baker, 2016)
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (Fortress, 2012)
- Walter Brueggemann, The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann, (WJK, 2011)
- Fred Craddock, The Collected Sermons of Fred B. Craddock, (WJK, 2011)
- John Donne, John Donne’s Sermons on the Psalms and Gospels, Rev. Ed., (U of California, 2003)
- Jonathan Edwards, The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader, (Yale 1999)
- Austin Farrer, The Essential Sermons, (SPCK, 1991)
- Gerhard Forde, We Preach Christ Crucified (Lutheran Univ. Pr., 2016)
- Colin Gunton, Theology Through Preaching: The Gospel and the Christian Life, (T&T Clark, 2005)
- —, The Theologian as Preacher: Further Sermons from Colin Gunton, (T&T Clark, 2007)
- Stanley Hauerwas, Without Apology: Sermons for Christ’s Church, (Seabury, 2013)
- Richard Hooker, The Sermons of Richard Hooker: A Modern Edition, (SPCK, 2001)
- Nicholas Lash, Seeing in the Dark: University Sermons, (DLT, 2005).
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christ-Centered Preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Sermons for the Church Today, (Crossway, 2014)
- Gilbert Meilaender, Love Taking Shape: Sermons on the Christian Life, (Eerdmans, 2002)
- John Henry Newman, Selected Semons, (Paulist Press, 1993)
- Oliver O’Donovan, The World in Small Boats: Sermons from Oxford, (Eerdmans, 2009)
- John Owen, Sermons to the Church, (Banner of Truth, 1999)
- Helmut Thielicke, Christ and the Meaning of Life: A Book of Sermons, (Harper, 1962)
- Denys Turner, Faith Seeking, (SCM, 2012)
- Friedrich Schleiermacher, Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher, (Wipf&Stock, 2004)
- John Webster, The Grace of Truth, (Oil Lamp, 2011). [Republished as Confronted by Grace: Meditations of a Theologian, (Lexham Pr, 2015).]
- John Wesley, John Wesley’s Sermons: An Anthology, (Abingdon, 1991)
- George Whitefield, The Sermons of George Whitefield, (Crossway, 2012)
- Rowan Williams, A Ray of Darkness: Sermons and Reflections, 3rd Ed., (Cowley, 1995)
- Telford Work, “You Can Say That Again,” (2005)
Austin Farrer on homiletics and theodicies The Word of God brings upon human pain and strife the consolation of eternal love. It is often thought that the Christian preacher is called upon … somehow to prove that the intolerable evils which ravage the earth are only the price of greater good. But the answer naturally […]
Robert Jenson on the homiletic implications of justification I The Reformation doctrine of justification is not a new attempted description of a process of grace—and when it has been taken for such, sometimes also by would-be champions, the difference between the Reformation and the standard tradition has always promptly become obscure. The doctrine is rather […]