Preaching As Reminding

This is a preaching text unlike I have ever read. Sure you have the staple texts from Robinson, Chappell, Long, Craddock, and others. Sure even you have the “how-to” manuals of preaching from writers such as Robinson, Shaddix, Vines, and Akin. You even have the more philosophically geared texts from the likes of Craddock or even Brown-Taylor. All of these are fantastic authors and scholars in the field of homiletics and you cannot go wrong reading their work. I would, however, like to add one more.

“Preaching as Reminding” is unlike any text I have read because it draws on the deep and rich biblical tradition of remembrance and transfers that to our preaching. This book is divided into two portions. The first (chapters 1-3) seeks to establish the idea of memory in preaching. Arthurs writes in the introduction concerning the first three chapters they “examine biblical theology where we discover that memory is more than simple mental recall. It is re-actualization-making past things present-and it rarely divorces action and emotion from cognitive recall” (3). This is something that seems to be missed in scholarship. Preaching scholarship generally seems focused on the practical method(s) of preaching such as structure, exegesis, style, and others. This book focuses on recall, on living the past through active remembrance.

The second part of the book theologizes the first. Again Arthurs writes the task of the second “takes the theology of the first three chapters and applies it to ministry to demonstrate how to stir memory through vivid language, story, delivery, and ceremony” (3). It is also at this point that preachers should be reminded that there is a difference between remembrance and coercion/nagging. Nagging shames people into belief, making them feel guilty for what has happened rather than reminding them of the good that God has done in the past. However, there are a number of goals sought in preaching as reminding: prompting thankfulness and repentance, fostering humility, helps believers walk wisely, warns of unbelief an disobedience, encourages belief and obedience, prompts mercy, and forms individual and communal identity (7-8).

Before reading this book I thought of preaching as proclamation and exhortation to believe in the gospel. Now, I think the preaching task adds a vital component of reminding and remembrance that should have been there before. I am thankful for this wonderful book and I hope you will add this to your shelf.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from InterVarsity Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and a positive review was not required. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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