Preaching in Times of Crisis by Robert Beamish
Grove Books 2018 £3.95 ISBN 978-1788270519
This book is a worthwhile addition to the library of any preacher, wrestling, as it does, with one of the most difficult challenges we face.
Beamish identifies two categories of crisis in chapter one, those felt by the wider community and those that are personal (political crises, natural disasters, accidents in the first category and significant life changes in the second). He moves on to thinking about responses, which might be a crisis of theology, how to understand what has happened, or a crisis of ethics, what to do about it.
The strategy he suggests is first to lament and then to “rename the world ‘God’s world’ … incorporating all our stories into ‘God’s story.’”. Chapter three moves to practicalities – name the presence of God, name the tension, remember God’s story, and name the monster. Chapter four proposes some key principles for preaching in times of crisis in order to achieve balance. Scott Wilson, according to Beamish, suggests a ‘law and gospel’ sermon is ‘the only school of contemporary homiletics that seeks its roots in preaching as a theological act’. Lischer seeks balance by moving from the bad place to a good place, from guilt to justification, or embattled to victorious, for example.
These are insufficient for preaching in crisis, Beamish says. We should not move too quickly to a hopeful place, therefore the model he suggests is from ‘pain to promise’, leaving room for lament. A helpful book.
Review by Liz Shercliff, Reviews and resources Editor
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