Preaching Christ in a Postmodern Culture
Author: K. A. Beville
Date Of Publication: Jul 2010
Starting with some observations relating to shifts in ecclesiology and identifying them as a move beyond contextualization to syncretism this work goes on to assess the feasibility of preaching in a postmodern culture which rejects both the idea of absolute truth and authority used as power. It traces the historical and philosophical development of postmodernism. The Enlightenment project is deemed to have failed and Christianity is perceived as an oppressive metanarrative. In a world that is becoming increasingly sceptical and where preaching practitioners are becoming disillusioned this book offers some guidelines about preaching to postmoderns. In a relational age rationality is impotent, but the author distinguishes between authoritative and authoritarian preaching allowing hope for the survival of the homiletic task. Humility is presented as preferable to certitude and persuasion is redefined. The author suggests using an inductive mode of communication as a means of engaging postmodern listeners. He signposts a way forward in the labyrinthine complexity of the new paradigm and demonstrates that the homiletic task is still feasible. Thus this book will be of interest to teachers and students of theology as well as pastors desiring to develop a new apologetic strategy.
Dr. Kieran Beville is an experienced Christian newspaper columnist. A former teacher of English (language and literature), History, Communications and Media Studies, he is now Pastor of the Lee Valley Bible Church (Baptist) in Cork, Ireland. He has taught theology on leadership training programmes in Eastern Europe and Biblical Studies in India. He is an international conference speaker on the themes of ‘Mission,’ ‘Postmodernism’ and ‘Preaching’ and has authored three other books: Exploring Ezra: The Secret of Spiritual Success (Day One Publications, 2004), Cultivating Christian Character: The Fruit of the Spirit (Day One Publications, 2005) and Jonah: Pride & Prejudice (ISPCK, 2010).
“Kieran Beville discusses the powerful wind shift of Postmodernism, the subtle ways it is affecting society and how preachers must reset their sails to become effective. In this scholarly primer the author engages with philosophers and the leading homileticians of the day. His approach is succinct without getting bogged down or becoming superficial. Dr Beville’s book provides clear and useful handles for understanding the elusive nature of postmodernity. He writes chiefly for teachers and students of the art of preaching in western societies yet this is a practical book that will encourage all those engaged in preaching and other forms of Christian communication. Preachers who ignore the urgent challenge of this book do so at their own peril and at the risk of talking to themselves in the stale backwater of irrelevance.”
—Dr Geoff Pound, Theologians Without Borders
“Kieran Beville’s Preaching Christ in a Postmodern Culture is an extremely helpful analysis of the crisis that has overtaken preaching with the emergence of postmodernity in western culture. He rightly demonstrates that a full-blown embrace by the church of the postmodern critique of past ways of communicating the gospel, in particular, the traditional emphasis on preaching, is a sure path to theological and ecclesial disaster. On the other hand, he rightly points out that it is not at all helpful for the church to be sullen and reactionary at this turn of events in western culture, trying to live in some past ‘golden age’ when things were done right! Beville guides the reader through this modern—or should one say postmodern!—Scylla and Charybdis and provides a helpful template for preaching that takes due cognizance of the new cultural paradigm and that also emphasizes the vital importance of clear communication of the best news a human being can hear. Highly recommended.”
—Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; and Research Professor of Irish Baptist College, Constituent College of Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
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Sample pdf (including Table of Contents)