I am reading Stanley Hauerwas' A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching for lent. I started this morning (slightly late...)
Hauerwas is one of the premier theologians of our age who says here about his craft and its practitioners, 'modern theology tends to be an extended exercise in throat clearing,' adding that 'even after the theologians have cleared their throats it often turns out they have nothing to say.'
I think he's an exception to this rule. He laments that modern theology has become less and less scriptural, suggesting that theologians have tried to see themselves as philosophers. 'Theologians are not "thinkers",' he says. 'We are servants of a tradition in which the creative challenge is how to be faithful to what we have received.'
And he thinks that the best form through which this is expressed is the sermon. 'I am convinced that the recovery of the sermon as the context for theological reflection is crucial if Christians are to negotiate the world in which we find ourselves,' he says
This is a challenge to those of us who find the sermon an inefficient tool for disciple formation in our churches. But perhaps the problem is less with the model than our execution of it(!), though I do feel that preaching is only part of the issue; listening and hearing is the other part and even the best speaking needs good listeners. As C S Lewis once said in a different context, there are no bad books, only bad readers.
As Hauerwas says: 'I hope the reader will discover that the problem is not that they do not understand what I say. Rather the primary challenge is how what I say challenges the way our lives are put together.'
All this magic and I'm only on p14!