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Preaching As A Social Act: Theology and Practice by Arthur Van Seters (ed.)

Arthur Van Seters is Principal and Associate Professor of biblical interpretation and preaching at the Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver, British Columbia; 1986 president of the Academy of Homiletics; and author of several papers for the Academy on social dimensions of preaching. Copyrighted by Arthur Van Seter, 1988, and published by Abingdon Press, Nashville. This material prepared for religion Online by Paul Mobley.

Introduction: Widening Our Vision
During the 1960s, preaching was being replaced by television. Now preaching is once again "in." Yet a negative stereotype persists. This book focuses on how preaching is shaped by society amid the bombardment of social influences.

Chapter 1: The Larger Context by Justo L. Gonzalez and Catherine G. Gonzalez
Here is seen how we are sacramentally linked across political and social boundaries spatially, and across the generations and centuries temporally. The larger context comes into view.

Chapter 2: Preaching as the Interface of Two Social Worlds: The Congregation as Corporate Agent in the Act of Preaching, Don M. Wardlaw
Wardlaw sets up a non-existent congregation based on a number of congregations he has served in the past. This congregation becomes aware that the preaching has a dimension not found in other congregations, coming to see themselves as corporate partners with the preacher, and his preaching.

Chapter 3: The Preacher as a Social Being in the Community of Faith, by Edwina Hunter
Social scientists and psychologists know the value of telling one’s story. Historians tell us we need to know where we have been in order to project where we want to go. Thus if we know who we are, and can reflect on those influences, we may be able to make changes in our life.

Chapter 4: The Social Nature of the Biblical Text for Preaching, by Walter Brueggemann
The preacher stands midway in the process of the biblical text. The text and its meaning are not just there, but the community is continually engaged in the production of meaning. That is what is meant by the "social nature" of the text.

Chapter 5: The Social Function of Language in Preaching, by Ronald J. Allen
Our physical surroundings have an effect in ways which we feel and act. In much the same way, language shapes the ways we think, feel, and act in the world. Christian preaching seeks a world shaped by the gospel. Insightful preachers are therefore conscious of the social function of language and their sermons.

Chapter 6: The Social Power of Myth as a Key to Preaching on Social Issues, by Thomas H. Troeger
Thomas Troeger sets out to explore those metaphors, symbols, and narratives from which a group draws its reason for being, sustains its current life, and envisions and realizes its future. His first example is Hitler and the methods he used to gain control of the majority of the German people.

This chapter interweaves material from the previous chapters. Analyses organized around the themes of theology, context, interpretation, language, and so called prophetic preaching. Van Seters also moves toward what comes next for the preacher.<

Van Seters poses five sets of questions which follow the order of the chapters. These should help the student to understand the social nature of preaching.

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