Progressional Dialogue & Preaching: Are They The Same? -- By: Richard L. Holland

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 17:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: Progressional Dialogue & Preaching: Are They The Same?
Author: Richard L. Holland


Progressional Dialogue & Preaching: Are They The Same?

Richard L. Holland

Director of D.Min. Studies

Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministries

Under the influence of postmodernism and postconservativism, the Emerging Church is engaged in dismantling much of present-day worship practices in the local church. A leader in advocating radical changes in conventional preaching is Doug Pagitt in his book Preaching Re-Imagined. Pagitt’s name for traditional preaching is “speaching,” which he sees as totally inadequate to meet needs in the Christian community, because it is a one-way communication that does not allow for the listeners’ input. His preferred alternative is “progressional dialogue” which involves “intentional interplay of multiple viewpoints.” As he sees the goal, the Bible is not the sole repository of truth. The Christian community has an equal contribution to make. Influences that have shaped Pagitt’s thinking include the Christian/cosmic metanarrative, postfoundationalism, and outcome-based church ministry. The inevitable conclusion must be that progressional dialogue is not really preaching as preaching has been defined biblically and historically.

* * * * *

Preaching is public hermeneutics. It reflects what are the preacher’s fundamental interpretations of his world, his task, his people, and most important, his Bible. How he handles the Bible in the pulpit becomes the exemplar for how the congregation approaches it at home. Church history is an undeniable testimony that the pulpit is the rudder for the church.

The Emerging Church (hereafter, EC)1 phenomenon is distinguished by its

iconoclastic dismantling of accepted worship forms. Every nuance of ecclesiology is being questioned and reconsidered under the twin-lens microscope of postmodernism2 (culturally) and postconservatism3 (theologically). That preaching too is receiving a theological, philosophical, and methodological facelift from leaders in the EC movement should surprise no one. Doug Pagitt has utilized the most creative and skilled scalpel on the traditional view of preaching. As a part of the “Organizing Group” in the Emergent Village, Pagitt has been pastor of Solomon's Porch, a Holistic, Missional Christian Community in Minneapolis, since its inception in January 2000.

Pagitt issues his challenge to conventional preaching in Preaching Re-Imagined: The Role of the Sermon in Communities of Faith (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 20...

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