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Preaching Is Believing: The Sermon As Theological Reflection [Paperback]

By Allen (Author)
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Item description for Preaching Is Believing: The Sermon As Theological Reflection by Allen...

In "Preaching Is Believing, " Allen calls for preachers to help congregations cultivate a systematic approach to Christian faith and life by bringing systematic theology directly into the pulpit.

Publishers Description

In this practical handbook, Ron Allen helps preachers to embody the tenets of the Christian faith in their sermons, thereby enabling their congregations to believe, live, and witness more intentionally and with more integrity. Rather than advocating a particular kind of preaching, Allen recommends that pastors pay more conscientious and critical attention to systematic theology in the preparation of their sermons. He includes sample sermons and provides a wealth of valuable informatin in an appendix and bibliography.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   162
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.49" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.47 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2006
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664223303  
ISBN13  9780664223304  

Availability  100 units.
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More About Allen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! JOHN L. ALLEN is the Vatican correspondent for the "National Catholic Reporter" and a Vatican analyst for CNN and National Public Radio. He is the author of "The Rise of Benedict XVI" and "All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks." His work has appeared in the" New York Times, "the" Boston Globe, "the" Miami Herald, The Nation, " and many other publications. His Internet column, "The Word from Rome," is considered by knowledgeable observers to be the best single source of insights on Vatican affairs in the English language.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Preaching
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Sermons

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Pastoral Help > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Preaching Is Believing: The Sermon As Theological Reflection?

Other and better possibilities out there  Jul 8, 2004
As theology and preaching goes, there are better books available for the clarity of theological engagement and the aptness of the argument. Burton Cooper and John McClure, Claiming Theology in the Pulpit, hits a homerun with students and scholars. I highly recommend their book as successfully accomplishing what Allen attempted in his work.
'That sounds dull...'  Apr 23, 2003
'Systematic theology!?!' you might gasp.

'That sounds boring!' you might say (joining with a friend of Allen's when informed of this project).

'What is systematic theology?' you might ask, particularly if you are a person interested in the church but have never been through seminary -- dare I make the leap that seminarians and pastors would not have this question? But before I digress into an area of less-than-charitable territory, let me return to the task at hand...

Systematic theology can, in fact, have a number of faces; systematic theology can have content that is conservative or liberal, traditional or modern. But systematic theology, when applied to a career of preaching, can help one avoid the 'flavour of the week' variety of theology that owes more to the latest book read by the pastor or the latest topical issue in the newspaper.

Allen addresses early the fact that people often have more of a theological framework, sensitivity or insight than they give themselves credit for:

`A number of laypeople who have not had formal theological education have excellent theological sense. Indeed, I am occasionally a guest Bible study leader or preacher in a congregation in which a sensitive layperson has more theological acumen than the seminary-educated pastor. `

Often what is missing for these people is the language, the terminology, the knowledge of the way to speak. Providing this becomes part of the tasks of the preacher. Also, one of the tasks of the preacher is to sort through the different ideas that modern, pluralistic society makes available. Gone are the days in America where the town would have but a few main churches that would vary only slightly (by today's standards) in theology and practice. Gone also are the days when people have basic working knowledge of the Bible or the creeds or traditions of their beliefs. While they have what Allen terms an implicit theology, they usually have had no formal training (often even in Sunday school settings).

'But I want my preaching to be biblical? Why can't preachers just preach on the Bible?'

This question is asked a lot, and addressed a lot by those who write on preaching (see also my review on Trouble with Jesus: Women, Christology and Preaching by L. Susan Bond, one of Allen's students). The Bible is difficult to make into life's little instruction book; it does not have a systematic theological approach inherent in the text, but rather has a diversity of views in the various writing contained in the canon. In talking about the problem and connection between biblical preaching and systematic theology, Allen proposes a conversational model, in which one asks key questions of the text -- what theology is really being presented here? What are the aspects and difficulties with the text? What is God's intention for the community in the text? What does God look like in this text?

`The interaction between the Bible and the congregation may spark the church to recognise possibilities in doctrine, systematic theology, or life and witness that the church had not previously envisioned.'

Allen argues that using systematic theology as a framework for starts and moves through a sermon can help the congregation in a myriad of ways. It can help reinforce ideas and beliefs of the congregation. It can broaden and expand the range of possibilities. It can help address conflicts or difficult issues. It can introduce new or forgotten topics. It can recast old ideas in new ways of thinking. It can even make a congregation question its own beliefs, which is not always a bad thing. Creeds and statements of faith, catechisms and covenants can all be used as frameworks for beginning -- the sources of theological inspiration vary for different denominations, but there is often a wide array for selection, and Allen highlights many of these possibilities.

The appendix is a gem of brief theological knowledge -- relating the contemporary theological families (revisionary, postliberal, liberation, and evangelical) and eleven historical Christian movements (Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed, Wesleyan, Anabaptist, Pentecostal, Radical Reformation, Quaker, and Community/Bible churches). Allen acknowledges that as broadly inclusive as this may seem, it nonetheless omits possibilities, particularly among hybrids that arise. Allen presents a two dimension chart and places himself in coordinates of revisionary and Reformed; perhaps even a four-dimensional chart that took into account variances with families and historical movements would not suffice, as it would neglect a fifth element of time -- trying to envision a five-dimensional model would challenge even the best of hyper-geometrists! Nonetheless, this encapsulation of movements is more information than many laypersons have (part of the theological illiteracy Allen references earlier in the text is the lack of understanding people have about traditions other than their own -- sadly, this often applies as much to the clergy as to laypersons in the congregation) and can serve as a guide for such education.

My one wish for the book would be a bit more commentary on the sermon examples provided, and perhaps a few more sermon examples -- perhaps a sermon from each of the contemporary theological families identified in the appendix. While Allen takes care to be broadly inclusive in approach and sensitive to nuances of belief, his preferences and biases do poke through now and again, and perhaps will prove difficult for some to get past -- his inclusion of feminist examples in a positive way, for instance, might make it difficult for those who do not believe women have a place in the pulpit or behind the altar to accept the rest of his writings. Those who want to believe that the Bible is a coherent and systematic text (some who hold infallible and inerrantist views of the Bible require this as part and parcel of the inerrant quality) may also find it difficult to accept. Allen in no place denigrates these views, but some might take the positive spin on one side as an implicit criticism of the other.


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