Shorter Reviews -- the Intrusive Word: Preaching to the Unbaptized by William H. Willimon

Article excerpt

The Intrusive Word: Preaching to the Unbaptized, by William H. Willimon. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1994. 144 pp. $10.99 (paper). ISBN 0-664-25540-X.

THIS BOOK combines reflections on preaching to the not-yet-convinced and sermons preached in the Duke Chapel with that audience in mind. Underlying both the reflections and the sermons is the claim that the gospel stands over against our personal histories and our cultural biases. The purpose of the preacher is not to make the gospel more accommodating but to declare the gospel in all its strangeness and its power in the hope that listeners will move from the familiar here to the unfamiliar and redemptive there.

As I read the book, it was not always clear whether it was about preaching to the unbaptized or preaching to those whose baptism had not yet been fully claimed. The line between conversion and revival is of course fuzzy, but by page 135 Willimon himself is talking more about helping forgetters remember their baptism than about bringing the story to the unbaptized.

Reading the book was a "Yes, but" experience for me. Some examples: (1) Willimon warns that apologetics thins out the offense of the gospel (p. …