The Era of the Spoken Word Is Not Over

Sometimes we are told that preaching is outmoded.  Once, in an age of grandiloquent speechmakers, it made sense to ascend an aged pulpit and preach a lengthy sermon.  Yet today we treat the homily with reverence, like an aged family member whose glory days are long behind him, but no longer see it as the centerpiece of our worship.  We’re in a posthomiletical age, which communicates in tweets and emoticons, not declamations and discourses.


The era of the spoken word is, in point of fact, not over.  Media personalities continue to fill the air with political analysis, dissection of sporting events, and the personal confessions of the podcast.  In such a time as this, pastors do well to reclaim their prophetic mantle.  It is not the psychologists, advertising executives, or life-coach gurus that should train the pastor.  It is not the latest sociological trend but the prophet, charged with the often-unpopular task of speaking forth God’s word, who should inspire pastors to preach with fresh power and zeal today.  The pastor, like the apostles, stands firmly in the oratorical tradition of the prophets, who heard the word of God and explained it, applied it, and commended it to the people.  The prophet’s ministry was a ministry of God’s word and hence a ministry of truth.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan, The Pastor as Public Theologian: Reclaiming a Lost Vision (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015), 55.


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