A paradigm for preaching personal and social transformation
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Preaching, in this paper, is broadly presented as the oral midrash by which individuals and communities reappropriate the past and, in the midst of present struggle, step forward into a transformed future. This is personal and communal struggle, made possible by the unfolding miracle of language, regulated by Scripture, and served by the preaching ministry of transformative leaders.
Chapter 1 presents Christian life as an open system, oriented toward transformation. Chapter 2 examines paradigm change in theology and presents preaching as a hermeneutical act in which the believing Assembly seeks historical consciousness by reappropriating tradition in the light of a new paradigm. The chapter presents transformation as a journey from emanation to incoherence to reappropriation of tradition. Chapter 3 compares a methodological shift toward historical consciousness and personal responsibility in Roman Catholic social teaching to a more classical emphasis on law in catholic sexual teaching. Catholics approach the preaching act searching for meaning in this incoherent experience of differing methodologies and paradigms.
Chapter 4 studies language as an agent of paradigm change, first by setting preaching in the context of oral, written, and electronic culture. Then, the chapter refers to language theory to describe the fundamentally perturbational nature of preaching's call to transformation and the challenge this noise presents to the listener. The chapter describes Scripture as an open system inviting paradigm change and presents preaching, insofar as it is a dialogue of text and culture, as an act of ongoing revelation. Finally, the chapter explores the role of language in organizational leadership and the role of preaching in church leadership.
Chapter 5 integrates discussion of the ideas of this paper by ten preachers and reflects on the preaching act as an act of choral listening, the importance of the self-definition of the preacher, and the implications of differing paradigms of authority for Christian life and preaching. Chapter 6 concludes the paper by exploring the gifts of insight and imagination by which Christians, in an act of conversion, turn toward God in the sacrament of preaching. Preaching is a way of life which involves the preacher and the community and epitomizes the Christian commitment to transformation.