Robert Jenson on the preacher’s task

“It must be our apologetic and liturgical and homiletical task to reclaim such abstractions as ‘love’ and ‘peace’ and ‘empowerment’ and so forth to their proper meaning as mere slogans for the concrete person of the risen Christ. A great deal of our preaching and teaching is exactly backwards. So, for example. The preacher will say that what a text from one of the Gospels, about a miracle or parable, ‘is really about is acceptance of people in all their diversity.’ A true sermon would go just the other way: ‘What our talk of acceptance and diversity etc. is really trying to get at is Jesus.’

“And there is an apologetic possibility here also. It is easy to show that the roster of slogans that make up abstracted Christianity is incoherent except as slogans about this person, this risen crucified first-century Palestinian Jew. Can peace and justice really kiss each other? All experience says not; but Christians add, except as characterizations of what this man did and suffered and does.”

Robert Jenson, “What is a Post Christian?” The Strange New World of the Gospel: Re-evangelizing in the Postmodern World, Eds. Carl Braaten and Robert Jenson. (Eerdmans, 2002), 31.

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