Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler

Article excerpt

Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler. Edited by Ronald J. Allen. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1998. xiv + 252 pp. $22.99 (paper).

This book contains thirty-four different examples of sermon styles and is intended to accompany Ronald Allen's textbook on preaching (Interpreting the Gospel: An Introduction to Preaching by Ronald J. Allen. St Louis: Chalice Press, 1998). If, like me, you had not realised that there are thirty-four different ways of preaching, then this book will both enlighten and encourage you. If, unlike me, you come from a church tradition that centres itself upon a sacramental expression, rather than preaching, then this book will prompt and suggest that you reconsider and rediscover the important sacramental character of the sermon.

The examples and illustrations collected by Allen are varied and broad in their styles and sources. All expressions of the Protestant Christian ethos are represented, from evangelical to radical, from Episcopal to independent. All types of theological stances are visible, from conservative to liberal, from academic to socio-political. Allen arranges the examples into four groupstraditional patterns, contemporary patterns, patterns for subjects, and patterns for theology. Such is the variety of sermon styles and types presented though that if one offends another will certainly thrill the reader. An interesting exercise would be to read the volume and to fit ourselves into the styles-maybe we find ourselves to be the thirty-fifth example!

The editor's introductory chapter contains a study of preaching which is worth careful reading and consideration. He acknowledges that preachers are generating new patterns for sermons and that many are rediscovering a freshness in their work (p. ix). He appears to have a 'high' view of preaching, believing that something happens when the word is proclaimed. He suggests that the sermon is an exercise in critical reflection which is intended to help the congregation interpret what God's unconditional love and will for justice offers to and requires of each person and situation. …