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Preaching In Times Of Crisis: Towards A New Methodology

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

I claim that preaching in times of crisis is vulnerable to the tendency of therapeutic and other pastoral forms of preaching to put human solutions in the centre, moving God to the margins. I argue that crisis preaching must be balanced, being theocentric, and therapeutic if it is to be effective. I make the further claim that speaking of God at such times is undermined by theological confusion of how God is involved with his creation; a crisis of understanding driven by the question, ‘Where is God when I suffer?’ The proposal of Neil Pembroke (2013), that sermons are therapeutic when they point to the divine therapeia, the healing love of God, is argued to fail if there is no confidence in the involvement of God. In order to find the means of bringing the required balance I examine crisis sermons, and models of preaching, interrogating them with the term involvement. Finding it necessary to take these models further in the image of the God invoked, I consider the viability of applying apophatic method to crisis preaching in light of Michael Sells’ (1994) definition of apophatic discourse. Such a foundation provides the platform to consider what it is to gain confidence in God’s involvement by an appeal to the doctrine of impassibility in dialogue with the thought of Herbert McCabe (2005) and Katherine Sonderegger (2015). Finally, I evaluate the potential of applying such an approach, followed by bringing the apophatic method into dialogue with the radical deconstructive homiletic of Jacob Myers (2017).
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date2019


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