Speaking the Truth
"Truth is a difficult subject in this pluralistic culture, and the truth is even more troublesome. Speaking the truth from the pulpit can result in an invitation to speak it at your next church. Speaking it in the community can...
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"Truth is a difficult subject in this pluralistic culture, and the truth is even more troublesome. Speaking the truth from the pulpit can result in an invitation to speak it at your next church. Speaking it in the community can earn you the label of narrow, intolerant, or irrelevant. Yet the preacher's call is to be a speaker of truth-the truth of God in Jesus Christ.
What does it take to speak the truth faithfully as a preacher of the gospel, and for that truth to be heard? You can assume the role of the angry prophet, starting every sentence with Thus says the Lord . . . and insure that your hearers push the off button in their heads within two minutes. Or you can become the pronouncer of soothing religious platitudes, and insure that nothing you say will ever have any impact on anyone's life.
Or you can learn, as Samuel Wells has learned, that speaking the truth to a reluctant culture means telling the Christian story alongside the contemporary American story. It means helping your hearers perceive both the harmonies and the dissonance between the two. Finally it means inviting them, with both conviction and humility, to decide how their own story is going to be shaped by this truth. Wells shows all preachers how to remain true to their calling as speakers of truth, while being actually heard at the same time.
The Reverend Dr. Sam Wells (Ph.D., Durham University) has been Dean of Duke University Chapel, North Carolina since 2005. His pastoral experience before coming to Duke included a spell as a community worker in inner-city Liverpool. He served four parishes as a Church of England priest from 1991-2005.
In addition to his role at Duke Chapel, Sam is also Research Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke Divinity School. He has published six single-author works Transforming Fate into Destiny (Carlisle: Paternoster and Eugene: Cascade, 1998); Community-Led Estate Regeneration and the Local Church (Cambridge: Grove, 2003); Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics (Grand Rapids: Brazos and London: SPCK, 2004); Gods Companions: Reimagining Christian Ethics (Oxford, UK and Malden, Massachusetts, 2006) Power and Passion: Six Characters is Search of Resurrection (The Archbishop of Canterburys Lent Book 2007, Grand Rapids: Zondervan) and Speaking the Truth: Preaching in a Pluralistic Culture (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008)
He has also issued three jointly-edited volumes: Faithfulness and Fortitude (with Mark Thiessen Nation, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2000); The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics (with Stanley Hauerwas, Oxford, UK and Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2004) and Living Out Loud: Conversations about virtue, ethics, and evangelicalism (Paternoster, 2010)