Chapter 5: The Social Function of Language in Preaching, by Ronald J. Allen

Preaching As A Social Act: Theology and Practice
by Arthur Van Seters (ed.)

Chapter 5: The Social Function of Language in Preaching, by Ronald J. Allen

(Note: Ronald J. Allen is professor of New Testament and preaching, Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Ind.)


At the seminary where I serve, the classrooms are spacious, open, and light. The white walls and ceilings are pure and warm, broken only by a simple chalkboard, a large piece of colorful textile art, and a wide window that goes from floor to ceiling. The carpeted floor of the classrooms is two steps below the hallway so that entering the room gives the effect of being gathered into a place of safety. The seminar tables and chairs are handcrafted from oak and are centered in the middle of the room to encourage conversation. A faint yellow glow in the ceiling lights makes the room feel alive. To walk in is to feel purified, welcome, secure, and focused.

In these rooms, as in all rooms, the design has a significant effect on the ways in which we feel and act. The shape of the room, the color of its walls, even the placement of the furniture can encourage us to feel welcome or unwelcome, to seek people or to avoid people, to be open to new ideas or to be suspicious of them.

In much the same way, language shapes the ways we think, feel, and act in the world. From the basic "master story" of a culture or community to the tiniest metaphor, our language results in social attitudes, behavior, roles, and structures. Indeed, to use language is to create, or recreate, a world.

Christian preaching seeks a world that is shaped by the gospel. Therefore, preachers who become conscious of the social function of the language of the sermon can use language in such a way as to encourage social effects that are appropriate to the gospel.

Language Creates World

A community designs and furnishes its own world. That is, a community decides what is good, what is bad, what is important, what is unimportant, and who should behave in certain ways. The tornado dropping out of the sky, the immersion of a person in water, words spoken by a person in a white alb on Sunday-these have no meaning apart from the value given to them by the community and its individual members. Thus, we say that a community creates its own interpretation of life, its own view of the world.(1)

The world view of a community has three important functions. (1) It provides the community with a sense of order and security in the face of chaos and death.(2) The Christian community, for instance, confesses that God has overcome chaos. (2) It answers the questions of identity, Who am I? Why am I here?(3) I am a person who has been brought by Jesus Christ into covenantal relationship to the God of Abraham and Sarah. (3) It orders social life.(4) The conviction that God is by nature just, causes the Christian community to seek justice in all social relationships. The human family contains as many world views as there are human communities. And, despite a probable core of commonly held convictions, each community contains as many variations of its world view as it has members.

The most important way in which this view is communicated is through language. The foundational expression of the world view is a story, often mythic, which explains how the community came into being and what the purpose of its life is.(5) The master story gives the community a living memory and instills it with hope for the future.(6)

This master story also provides paradigmatic instances of the world view in operation, especially through stories of exemplars whose lives illustrate the best of the world view and through stories of those who forsook it and fell into trouble. Laws and regulations provide for its social institutionalization.

To tell the story, and for later generations to interpret it, is to constitute (or reconstitute) the world view of the group, to renew its sense of identity and purpose, to reinforce its pattern of social life. To tell a small part of the story, sometimes even to use a single word or image, is to evoke the meaning, memory, and power of the whole.

One of the most important functions of language is the giving of names and the assigning of value to persons, events, experiences, objects, and places.(7) Giving the thing a name places it into a world view so that the community and its members can respond to it (and manipulate it) appropriately. The name bestows to the community the value of persons, events, experiences, objects, and places. Is it good and to be valued and honored? Is it bad and to be rejected?

Different names for the same thing can lead to quite different social effects. A parade by a small group of people in response to an act of the government can be named an act of faithfulness. But if the same act is labeled unpatriotic, even illegal, the effect is quite different. Indeed the latter name can lead to prison.

Closely related to the giving of a name is the use of metaphors and images. These figures of speech are much more than decorative flowers that brighten the garden of language; for the use of a metaphor or image can evoke the power of the world view to make it legitimate or illegitimate. In this light, Kenneth Boulding speaks of behavior depending upon the image,(8) and an important recent work is entitled Metaphors We Live By.(9)

The social effect of metaphors and images can be seen also in select and specific ways. To speak of the "right hand of God" as the hand of power and authority is to relegate left-handed people to secondary social status. In line with recent research, Gibson Winter finds that "certain metaphoric networks become dominant in a total society, shaping modes of thought, action, decision and life."(10) The root metaphor of an earlier time was organic. In the metaphor of organic process, the pattern and meaning of life is understood in terms of birth, growth, and decay. But in the West, in particular, this metaphor has been replaced by the mechanistic metaphor. This way of thinking about life is basically mechanical, linear, and quantified. Winter asks, "How much of life in this highly technological society is calculated . . by years of work, annuities, retirement dates, eligibility for military service, weeks of unemployment insurance or years of accumulated pension credits?"(11) The mechanistic metaphor causes Westerners to regard cultures that live on the basis of organic metaphors as "ignorant and confused." Yet mechanism as a root metaphor has resulted in a cold, exploitative, individualistic, quantified world. Winter seeks a new organizing metaphor in the artistic process. For central to the artistic process is the resolution of contradiction in fresh and startling ways which result in fresh and startling understanding.(12)

In religious discourse, the names and metaphors used for God deserve the most careful attention. For God is the center of the Christian world view and the Christian world view ultimately takes its shape and character from the nature of God. For instance, the bald and uninterpreted metaphor, "Lord of Hosts," implicitly sanctions militarism, since the noun "hosts" is derived from a Hebrew verb that means "to make war."(13)

In this respect the images we use to describe the sermon are critical. (14) Different images lead to different ways of conceiving the sermon; they also lead to different relationships between speaker and hearer and to different social effects. When one conceives of the sermon as an "argument" (even a lover's quarrel), it is quite different from the sermon seen as "therapy." The sermon as a "polished essay" is quite different from an "oral event." The sermon as "exhortation" is not the same as the sermon as "story." A congregation, which week after week is brow-beaten, soon begins to droop like a cornstalk in an August drought. A congregation that is nurtured in love and grace soon begins to ask, "How can we respond to so great a gift?"

Much of the language of the United States that is used to refer to people of color, especially the black population, presupposes (and creates) a world view in which people of light-colored skin are more highly valued than people of dark-colored skin.(15) Words like nigger, coon, jungle bunny, jig, and darky evoke this world view and (at least implicitly) legitimate practices of discrimination.

The issue is complicated by the fact that the English language gives a negative value to dark colors, especially to black.(16) White is clean and pure, while black is dirty, sinister, and evil. In this milieu, Ossie Davis declares, "The English language in which I cannot conceive myself as a black man without at the same time debasing myself. . . is my enemy, and with which to survive I must be constantly at war."(17)

Much of the language about women in the United States explicitly evokes their secondary location in this world view, for example, the little woman, girl, babe, chick.(18) Many male designations are positive, whereas their female counterparts carry a negative evaluation. The words master and bachelor are much more positive than mistress, spinster, and old maid.

Until the mid-seventies, dictionary entries for terms associated with women cited as attributes for women such characteristics as gentle, affectionate, domestic, fickle, and superficial. Male characteristics included vigorous, courageous, and strong.(19) Even now this world view is called to mind by expressions such as "a lady minister" (instead of just "minister"). A study of school textbooks found that the pronouns he, him, and his occurred four times more often than the pronouns she, her, and hers.(20)

Professional advertising intentionally uses language and imagery to associate a product with a world view. The consumer is not motivated to buy the product on the merits of the product per se. Rather, the advertisement associates use of the product with the world view it has created. Television advertising is so sophisticated that it can create a world view in thirty seconds. A classic commercial, now happily departed from the airwaves, sold a soft drink as "the real thing." If a soft drink is the real thing, civilization is in trouble.

Leaders of social movements often carefully calculate the social effect of their language. Joseph M. Scheidler, a leader in the movement to halt abortion, recommends the use of inflammatory rhetoric; thus, abortion is a "holocaust." Abortionists are baby killers and murderers. Letter carriers, telephone installers, and other public utility employees, and the maintenance staff of abortion clinics are to be advised that they are servicing "death camps." Garbage haulers are to be told that they are carrying the corpses of babies.(21)

Few institutions in the United States seem more aware of the social effects of language than the federal government. Where once we had a Department of War we now have a Department of Defense. The neutron bomb is called by the much more innocent name, nuclear enhancement device, while a missile is designated the Peacekeeper.(22)

Just as language can create and sustain a world view, it can also cause members of a society to see the world in new ways. At its most potent in this role, language can cause listeners to think afresh about the meaning and organization of their lives. The parables of the Synoptic Gospels, for instance, are more than memorable illustrations of religious truth. They are assaults upon consciousness which are intended to jar the hearers and readers into seeing the world in new ways. The parable commonly known as the good Samaritan causes the reader or listener to reevaluate the social value and role of Samaritans.

The classical prophets who spoke immediately before the Exile often used the language of the social traditions of Israel in ways unfamiliar to the people in order to get them to interpret their situation anew. The prophet Amos, for instance, gives new meaning to the metaphor "the Day of God." This Day was believed to be the time of the manifestation of God's ultimate blessing on the community. Yet, in light of the prevailing world view in which it was completely permissible to manipulate, cheat, extort, and rob (especially the poor), Amos sees the Day of God as a day of judgment because the community has debased its covenantal relationship with God. In language that causes the community to see itself in a new way Amos says:

Woe to you that desire the Day of the Lord!

Why would you have the day of the Lord?

It is darkness, and not light. (Amos 5:18)

Thus Dwight Bolinger describes language as a loaded weapon.(23) For virtually all language is loaded (biased) and tends to picture things in such a way as to elicit a specific evaluation from the community, usually an evaluation of approval or disapproval. The stories we tell, the metaphors and images that we use, trigger the master story and cause the community to act or think in some traditional way. On the other hand, these may challenge the master story and ask us to think and act in a new way.

The Language of the Sermon Elicits a Social Response

The sermon posits the perspective of the gospel as the basic world view out of which the congregation understands the meaning of life. This stance orders the congregation's social attitudes, roles, behavior, and structures, and it helps the congregation understand its place amid the other world views that are a part of its time and place. In the best preaching, the sermon becomes both an explanation of and apology for the Christian world view. The sermon can also become a metaphor to live by.(24)

In a primary mode of Christian preaching, the preacher takes a biblical text and interprets the gospel as it (the gospel) is refracted through the text. In an earlier day, many scholars believed that interpreters could suspend their values and prejudices and distill the pure, uninterpreted meaning of the text. In an impressive essay Rudolf Bultmann showed that such exegesis without presuppositions is impossible.(25) More recent writers have emphasized even more the ways in which the political, economic, social, and theological positions of interpreters function as vested interests that shade the way in which people read the biblical text and the way in which they understand the gospel.(26) In particular, interpreters will often take the biblical text in such a way as to protect their own places in society. Because such interests inevitably become lenses through which interpretation takes place, it is important for reachers to become aware of them. Only when preachers are aware of philosophical, theological, and social presuppositions can they become critical of them.

The exposition of the gospel through the text presents a world view and results in a social effect.


and Social

Text ---Position -----Sermon ---Social Effect

of the


Sometimes the sermon will call for an overt social program, behavior, or action. At other times, the sermon will result in the formation of attitudes that yield social effects.

The centrality of the Bible in Christian preaching calls for three comments about its potential social effect. At one end of the spectrum of authority, popular religious circles use the Bible as an imprimatur on whatever is said from the pulpit.(27) At the other end of the spectrum, the Bible has little inherent authority, so that any claims derived from it must be justified. In order for the sermon to achieve its intended effect, preachers will want to know the attitudes the congregation has about the Bible. They will then be able to help the congregation develop approaches toward the Bible that are consistent with its role as a witness to the gospel.

Further, the Protestant canon historically has been divided in two parts called the Old Testament and the New Testament. This nomenclature has contributed, and continues to contribute, to the devaluation of the first thirty-nine books of the Bible and to a sense of discontinuity between the two parts, as if the New Testament is in contrast to the Old. In modern culture, especially, the word "old" has come to be associated with the decrepit and outmoded whereas the "new" is fresh and exciting. These factors have contributed in a direct and forceful way to anti-Semitism. In light of the recently reemphasized continuities between the parts of the Bible and between Judaism and Christianity, and also under the impetus of the awful memory of the Holocaust, many Christians are seeking words for the two parts of the Bible that will replace the terms new and old. For example, one may speak of the sacred Scriptures of Judaism, the Hebrew Bible, Canonical Jewish Literature, the Canonical Literature of the Apostolic Church, or simply, the Bible.

Finally, care needs to be given to the translation of the Bible made or used by the preacher. For the English words and idioms chosen to render Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic have a social effect. For example, in Genesis 2 the word 'adham is usually translated "man" when the word itself means the more inclusive, "human being." The translation thus contributes to the notion of the superiority of men over women. Again, the Hebrew notion of justice is fundamentally concerned with relationship, with putting relationships in their right order in the light of the covenant. But at the popular level in the United States, justice is associated with legal judgments and often with retribution. When a murderer is electrocuted, someone inevitably appears on a television news program applauding the fact that "justice has been done." The implication is that retribution is justice. For a last example, the translators of the Authorized Version of the Bible rendered many of the Greek words for "servant" and "service" by the word "minister," thereby reinforcing the place of ministers in society.(28)Thus the preacher needs to be suspicious of the social implications of biblical translations.(29)

In order to make a theological analysis of the text and the appropriateness of its world view to the gospel and to the situation of the congregation, it is important for the preacher to determine that world view and its social effects.(30) Indeed, throughout the process of going from text to sermon, the preacher makes several critical decisions. The sermon will be strengthened if these decisions are made clearly and critically.

A fundamental theological evaluation relates to the text itself. Is the world view of the text -- and of the elements within the text -- consistent with that of the gospel? Most often the answer will be in the affirmative; but in some cases it will be in the negative. Representative of such cases are the household codes of the Epistles (for example, Col. 3: 18-4: 1), the pleas for divine retribution against enemies (for example, Ps. 137) and the caricature of the Jewish community as exponents of evil (for example, John 8:39-59). Sermons on these texts may take the form of preaching against the text -- or against some element of the text. The social effect of these sermons is to cause the congregation to think critically about the Bible and about social attitudes and practices related to the Bible that it has taken for granted. For instance, the disparagement of the Jewish community is called into question by a sermon that challenges the portrait of the Jews in the Fourth Gospel.

It is equally important to identify the world views (and their social effects) that are held by the congregation. Are these views appropriate to the gospel? Schutz points out that for most people these attitudes and actions are largely taken for granted. They are seldom the result of stringent critical reflection, but just because they are taken for granted, they are deeply ingrained.(31) The preacher who plays fast and loose with such fundamental realities will meet strong resistance.

With a clear exegetical and theological understanding of the text and a clear identification of the situation of the congregation, the preacher makes the critical correlation of the text and the congregation.(32) In what ways is the world view and social situation of the congregation similar to that of the community to whom the text was addressed?

Given this correlation, the preacher determines the appropriate social strategy for the sermon The decisive factor is the content of the text. If the situations of the two communities are similar, the social strategy of the text may be appropriate for the sermon. Given the peculiarities of culture and congregation, the strategy (or some part thereof) may be appropriate even if the circumstances are different. Even when situations vary, a theological theme and its social effect, or a particular image with its social effect, may rise up to address the congregation.(33)

The form and function of the text, viewed in the light of the specific content of the text, may also be suggestive for the social strategy of the sermon. A saga, like the ancestral narratives of Genesis, is intended to locate the community in relationship to time, place, purpose, and the divine. At the time of the Exile in Babylon, the exiles were confused about their place in the world. For them, the stories of Genesis served to renew the community's sense of identity and confidence. If the text is a saga, the preacher determines the degree to which the congregation needs to have its identity renewed.

A parable, as mentioned above, is intended to explode a prevailing world view so that the community can see the world in a new way. If the text is a parable, the preacher decides whether the world view of the congregation is in need of being exploded.

Apocalyptic texts come to expression in times of extreme social distress. The community for whom the text is written is usually in the midst of some form of oppression. In this context, an apocalyptic text has two important functions for the community. In a grim and desperate situation it offers hope in God. It further functions as a principle of social criticism; any idea or social reality in the present social order that does not conform to the vision of God's reign is to be rejected. The ultimate social goal of the apocalyptic text is a new social order. Is the community for whom the sermon is to be preached in a minority situation and/or in need of an affirmation of hope? Can the text function as a principle of criticism by which the world of the congregation can be evaluated?

When the social strategy of the sermon is set, the preacher seeks a homiletical strategy to help the sermon achieve its intended effect. How can the preacher say what needs to be said in such a way that the sermon will have the best possibility of fulfilling its purpose? In resolving this question, two factors come into prominence: (1) the overall genre of the sermon, (2) the specific language and imagery of the sermon.

Studies in homiletical form are extremely helpful at the first point. A sermon is generally structured along one of two forms of logic: deductive or inductive.(34) In sensitive and skillful hands, either form can perform the social task assigned to it. However, the two forms do have advantages and limitations that fit them especially well for different purposes.

In the deductive sermon, the proposition of the sermon is stated at the outset and the sermon develops and/or defends proposition. One of the great strengths of this approach preaching is its clarity. The preacher paints the major points in bold and unmistakable strokes. Further, the line of reasoning in the sermon can be laid out lucidly and persuasively. At its best, the deductive sermon defines a situation with dictionary-like precision.

In the deductive sermon, the speaker's relationship to the congregation is often hierarchical: "I, the preacher, have something you need and I am going to persuade you that you need it." The congregation sits in evaluation and judgment on the message. This makes the deductive approach somewhat better-suited to sermons whose purpose is to build up or renew the congregational world view than to sermons that challenge it. When a listener's world view is challenged head-on, the listener tends to be defensive and to resist the challenge.

The inductive sermon, in which the preacher begins with the elements of experience and, in the course of the sermon, brings them into a theological perspective, works well for both the affirming and the challenging sermon. But it has a distinct advantage over the deductive form when the purpose

is to challenge. For the inductive sermon works by inviting the listeners to identify sympathetically with the data of experience. The sermon brings this data into conversation and confrontation with appropriate theological resources. On the basis of this interaction, the listeners draw theological conclusions.

The inductive sermon helps overcome the initial defensive reaction that often accompanies a direct attack on a world view or social practice. The preacher is in a relationship of collegiality with the congregation. By working through the problem with the preacher, the conclusion arises internally from the life of the congregation. At its best, the inductive sermon evokes a world view in the listener.

Yet the inductive sermon is often difficult to construct. If the movement of the sermon is not sharp and clear, coming deftly to the major conclusion, it is difficult for the congregation to follow. While this kind of sermon can be extremely artful, the preacher must exercise care to see that the congregation "gets the point" and understands the reasons for it. In the worst abuse of inductive preaching that I have heard, the preacher adopted an approach that might be called "stream of consciousness."

These considerations have a theological corollary. When the sermon is rambling, confused, and pointless, the congregation can easily assume that God is rambling, confused, and pointless. By implicitly suggesting that the nature of God is chaotic, the sermon pictures the world itself as a place of chaos. But when the sermon is purposeful and compelling, the congregation begins to think that God may be much the same.

In actual homiletical practice, few sermons will be of a purely deductive or inductive type. Most sermons will include elements of each. A sermon may introduce a problem inductively, gathering the congregation's sympathetic identification and then deal with the problem deductively. Elements of deductive reasoning may appear here and there in the inductive flow of a sermon. By recognizing the social force of the forms available, the preacher can make a conscientious selection for the purpose at hand.

Likewise, careful attention to the social function of the materials in the sermon will enhance its result as a whole. This is true of larger units of material and of individual words, images, and metaphors. For instance, preachers have long known that stories have unusual power to hold listener-attention and to move listeners deeply. It is, therefore, important to remember that stories function on the basis of sympathetic identification. The listener identifies with someone (either in the story itself or with the storyteller or with something else associated with the story) and follows the plot to its climax and completion. With whom will the congregation identify when this story is told? What will be the social effect of that identification?

Furthermore, different stories serve different social functions. Some stories, for instance, assure the listeners that all is well. In the 1984 campaign for the office of President of the United States, Ronald Reagan repeatedly told stories that said, "Things are O.K. No need to be afraid." Other stories serve explicitly to raise the consciousness of the community to the situation and meaning of particular persons, groups, and institutions. The story of acceptance (or rejection) of a homosexual by family and friends can cause people to look again at the phenomenon of homosexuality.

Exhortation in preaching seeks an overt response in the listener. For instance the community may be exhorted to believe something such as the proposition that Jesus is indeed the Christ. Or the congregation may be exhorted to do something, such as boycott the products of a multinational corporation, but much exhortatory preaching fails to produce the expected result. Among the reasons for failure, two deserve mention here. Exhortation typically calls for a change of behavior without offering the congregation a new metaphor by which to understand the world. A change of behavior is usually the result of a change of metaphor.(35)

Further, in the exhortatory sermon, the indicative and the imperative dimensions of the gospel may be out of balance. Theologically the indicative -- the announcement of the grace of God as already given to the world -- comes first. The imperative, the command to respond to the gospel in certain ways, follows from the indicative, but in the exhortatory sermon, the indicative is typically diminished or even forgotten. People are asked to do something or to believe something without being given an understanding of its basis. This is like trying to start an automobile when the gasoline tank is empty. And it can leave the congregation with the impression that the love of God is earned on the basis of response to the imperative. "If I do what the preacher said, then I will be worthy to receive God's love."

Smaller units of expression -- for example, sentences, individual words, and metaphors -- can result in social effects as well. For, as noted earlier, these can push buttons in the minds of the members of the congregation that release world views. It is, therefore, imperative that the preacher have a clear and accurate understanding of the relationship between the language and imagery of the sermon and the language and imagery of the congregational world views, for the preacher wants to evoke what is intended.

Even the smallest parts of speech and matters of grammar can have a social effect, for these, too, can exhibit bias.(36) A noun, for instance, is more evocative than an adjective in a comparable expression. Compare the following:

He's a Turk (noun).

He's Turkish (adjective).

The noun more strongly calls forth the social stereotype.(37) In the conventional use of the adjective as the modifier of a noun, the carefully selected adjective can strengthen (or reduce) the world view called forth by the noun, as is "The Lord is a very great God, a God above all gods." The same thing is true of the adverb, in "You gave only ten dollars?"

According to Dwight Bolinger, the verb is "the least hospitable to bias." Yet verbs, too, are loaded. The use of direct action verbs makes subjects and their actions clear, but in passive constructions, the agent is hidden, and responsibility for the action is thereby diffused. For example, in the statement, "This information was not meant to be divulged," the question is raised as to who did not divulge the information. Was it "a bureaucrat who might be embarrassed by it?"(38)

Further, active verbs are more suited to oral discourse; they cause the sermon to feel alive and moving. They are easy to follow; they engage the mind of the listener, and they suggest that God is active. Passive constructions, on the other hand, are not well-suited to oral discourse; they are difficult to follow and they are less mentally stimulating. They cause the sermon to feel slow and nonassertive, and they suggest that God is passive and only indirectly related to the cosmic drama.

In most of the sermons I hear, questions are used in the sermon as rhetorical devices to win the attention of the congregation, but when carefully focused, placed, and delivered, non-rhetorical (that is, real) questions can perform social functions. For instance, in the proper context a question can raise a doubt in the minds of listeners about the adequacy of their world views. The preacher has the opportunity to step into the distance between the listener and the world view that was created by the question. An interesting afternoon for those who save their sermon manuscripts or who make tape recordings of their sermons would be to review the sermons and to note the loaded expressions in a month's sermons. What biases are revealed?

Thus, a basic rule for the use of language and imagery in the sermon is this: take nothing for granted. Words, images, and ideas must be evaluated from the perspective of the congregation in order to know what social world they will evoke. And those words, images, and ideas that appear in the sermon must be given the flesh and blood the preacher intends. If the preacher is speaking of love in the framework of the steadfast covenant loyalty of the Hebrew Bible, that needs to be made clear. Otherwise someone is going to think that the preacher is referring to a cozy emotional feeling.

The illustrations and references to people and groups in the sermon have a particularly important social function as well. Those who appear, and do not appear, signal to the listeners who is important, who is not, who is valued, and who is ignored. The manner in which people and groups are pictured sends a clear message as to which social behaviors are approved and which are not.

Three considerations enter into the use of illustrations and the references made to people and groups. First, illustrations and references that reflect the composition of the community to whom the sermon is given say to that community, "You are important. The Christian world view has a word for you."

Second, because the Christian world view transcends local culture, illustrations and references to people from beyond the local situation help the congregation enter into the fullness and inclusivity of that world view. Preachers will want regularly to include material in the sermon from racial, ethnic, and national groups other than those that predominate in the congregation.

Third, the preacher will want to give careful attention to the ways in which people are pictured in the illustrations and references so as not to repeatedly reinforce negative stereotypes but to offer positive images that will result in positive social effects. A sermon contradicts itself when it announces the liberating power of God but at the same time consistently pictures women doing menial jobs and speaks of Blacks on welfare. Especially helpful are illustrations that picture in a positive light people who have been caricatured negatively.

Preachers may find it useful to make a grid that can record the references and illustrations that are included in their sermons. Such a grid might be modeled on the following:

Children Youth Young Adult Middle Adult Senior Adult

White Females

White Males

Native American Females

Native American Males

Afro-American Females

Afr-American Males

Asian-American Females

Asian-American Males

Hispanic Females

Hispanic Males

College Graduates

High School Dropouts



Such a grid, kept over a two-month period, would reveal those persons and groups who are most prominent, and most neglected, in the world view of the sermons.

The delivery of the sermon has a social effect.(39) Indeed, the mode of delivery embodies both the content of the sermon and the way in which people relate in the Christian community. Just as children learn acceptable behavior by observing the behavior of family and friends, so the congregation learns important clues to acceptable behavior in the church by observing the way worship is led.

A sermon that is delivered in a loud, angry voice and punctuated by a closed fist banging down on the pulpit sanctions, at least by example, such behavior as appropriate to the Christian community. On the other hand, to speak of reconciliation, and to stand before the congregation in an open and vulnerable way, is to embody the beginning of reconciliation. If the center of the Christian world view is a gracious and loving God, then the sermon will be delivered in a gracious and loving way. Grace and love can be expressed in tones that range from the passionate and strong to the quiet and gentle.

The prophetic sermon deserves a special comment. In popular parlance, the classical Hebrew prophets are described as thundering. (In fact, we do not know whether they spoke in tones of thunder or anguish, or both.) But the modern preacher is not Amos. The preacher stands in solidarity and love with the congregation under the Word of the text. If it is a word of judgment, the preacher will speak the word in pain. Ideally, the style of delivery should be consistent with the tone and content of the sermon.

Exegesis and Homiletical Strategy: Philippians 2:5-11

Sermon preparation is centered around two kinds of exegesis: one of the biblical text and the other of the situation of the congregation. Based on the critical theological correlation of these concerns, the preacher develops a homiletical strategy.

The text on which the following sermon is based is Philippians 2:5-11.(40) This text is almost certainly an early Christian hymn in which Paul addresses a Hellenistic congregation that is troubled and divided.

The religious world view of the Hellenistic mind was centered in the notion of Fate, the belief that life was under the heel of blind and unfeeling forces over which one had no control. Each person was a slave of some principality and power. From this fatalistic determinism, the gospel offered salvation and freedom.

In response to Paul's preaching, the Philippians embraced the gospel; in Paul's absence, the congregation has become ingrown. It appears that "false teachers" have entered the community and have offered the congregation a world view other than that of the Pauline gospel. Selfish ambition conceit, and preoccupation with their own interests to the exclusion of those of others, complement bad feelings toward one another (2:3-4, 14; 4:2-3) and ethical confusion (4:8-9).

In this milieu, Philippians 2:5-11 pictures the exaltation and self-emptying of Christ as the center of Christian existence and as the paradigm for the life of the church in the world. Christ was humiliated for the world, freeing it from the power of Fate, and thereby making it possible for the Philippians to enjoy true community by giving themselves for one another. This is the common mind (that is, way of looking at the world) that they have been given in Christ Jesus (2:5).

A key exegetical decision concerns the word "servant." The Greek word servant (doulos) may also be translated "slave." As mentioned above, the Hellenistic world of the first century believed that people and situations were slaves of cosmic powers. Paul shared in this viewpoint (for example, Rom. 8:35-39; I Cor. 2:6-8; 15:55-56; Gal. 4:3, 9). In this light, for Christ to take the form of a slave was to leave the form of God and to identify with the human situation in such a way that he became slave of the cosmic powers of Fate. When God exalted Jesus, the power of these rulers was broken and they (in heaven, on earth, and under the earth) acknowledge the cosmic sovereignty of Christ. Note that the hymn is ultimately theocentric: "to the glory of God."

The form of the text, as a hymn, is somewhat suggestive. More than simply words set to music, or content added to a tune, a song is a living image. In evocative language, the christological hymn functions as a master image of the Christian view of the world. Easily committed to memory, the hymn can be carried by the congregation from the place of worship into all the places of the world where it has business. It therefore functions as a living lens through which to interpret daily relationships and events.

The sermon was prepared for the installation of a friend as pastor of an American Baptist congregation located just beyond the suburbs of Indianapolis, Indiana. I learned that the congregation is all white, largely middle class, politically conservative, and has few college graduates. The congregation is somewhat evangelical in theology. Although it is small, it has been troubled some by power plays on the part of several members. In the process of being interviewed, called, and beginning his ministry, the pastor has discovered that the congregation is primarily concerned with institutional maintenance, such as raising the budget and adding new members to the rolls.

The congregation lives in the larger cultural milieu of the United States. In this setting, consciousness is increasingly shaped by technology, bureaucracy, and pluralism.(41) The individual is becoming more and more the center of the universe. The chief ends in life are individual expression and success, with decreasing attention to the public good and even less ability to talk about the public good.(42) Arenas in which the drive toward individualism is particularly entrenched are the family, sexuality, and the mobility ethos.(43) Christopher Lasch contends that an apt metaphor to describe our time is narcissism.(44)

Given the similarity between the situations of the text and the modern church, the strategy of the text is appropriate for the sermon. It is usually inappropriate for someone from outside an established community to recommend a specific social program to the community. Like the text, the sermon is intended to offer a living image through which the congregation can understand itself and its situation in the world. The living image of the sermon will be composed of many little images, like the pieces of a puzzle that all lock together to form the big picture.


"The Difference

(Philippians 2:5-11)


Can you hear it? (pause)

There it is again. Did you hear it?

A shout.

A shout from a big crowd.

And can you see them? The white robed martyrs. The myriad of angels. The saints from all the ages. And more.

Old people with aluminum walkers, rising up off broken legs to walk.

Clear-eyed women in their strength, standing to oppose the City Council.

Men with faces as tanned as their suits,

just returning from the treatment centers, born again. Students with test tubes and floppy disks,

coming alive to the meaning of it all. Fresh-scrubbed children bursting out in song

"Jesus loves the little children . . "(singing) And more.

A welfare mother, sweating from the tenements, a bounce in her step as she starts school.

Peasants from Nicaragua, sixty years old, eyes bright as they learn to read.

Blacks from South Africa, wrists and ankles bleeding from the chains,

staggering to their feet to march again.

And all of them together, kneeling down in the dust, crying out in one great voice, Jesus Christ is Lord.

From the while robed martyrs to the black people in chains,

they know the difference Christ makes in life and they join in the great exaltation.

What about you? (pause)

They knew the difference in the days of Paul. For in those days they believed that the world

was full of forces and fates that controlled human life,

and bent it and broke it.

The Bible calls these forces by names like principalities, powers, dominions, thrones, rulers of this age, elemental spirits of the universe.

They took human life and tied it in a knot

and pulled it tight-

and tighter-

and tighter-

and tighter-

until there was nothing left to pull.

No wonder the people of that world felt closed in,

like they were living in a room with

no doors,

no windows,

no fresh air,

no lights.


No way out.

Que sera sera.

What will be will be.

Murphy's law: if anything can go wrong, it will.

They made this decision down at City Hall. Nothing I can do about it.

"Sorry, ma'am. Not qualified."

An outburst at a Board Meeting. People standing up, shouting, pointing their fingers at one another like guns.

And afterward out on the parking lot, somebody says, "Well, when you work with people, you've just got to expect that."

Expect that?

Expect pain and brokenness to be normal?

And yet that's the way it was. A world resigned to its Fate.

That was the way the world was when Christ Jesus was in the form of God.

And the form of God is the form of love.

What was it that God said to Israel?

"I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3). And the psalmist knew that God's steadfast love endures forever.

You know how it is when you love someone. When they have joy,

it becomes your joy and you do all you can to multiply it.

When they have pain, it becomes your pain

and you do all you can to ease it.

When I was a child, maybe four or five years old,

I had pneumonia.

They brought the hot plate into the bedroom,

and filled the big old Revere Ware pot

with water and Vicks,

and turned it up high.

But when my fever went up

my mother got a damp wash cloth

and sat up

all through the night, wiping

my forehead.

Hour after hour, all through the night,

until morning came.

To touch the fevered world Christ Jesus emptied himself,

He "did not count equality with God

a thing to be grasped,"

but took on the biting chains of slavery, "and became obedient unto death,

even death on a cross.

Therefore, God has highly exalted him, and given him the name

which is above every name.

And what happened to Christ Jesus is our clue to God,

and to life

and to the principalities and powers that bind and strangle.

For when God exalted Christ Jesus,

God said, "No!" to the principalities and powers. Not a big red-letter





But a "No!" written by the blood of the cross.

The principalities and powers

are brutal and strong,

but they do not determine the meaning of life. They do not give out the blueprints of existence to those who are in Christ Jesus.

Theirs are not the last options to be considered

before making a decision.

For God has given Christ Jesus the Name that is above every name

To those who are in him, the name of Jesus

is greater than any name given by the principalities and powers:


Single parent

Old hag





Because God has given Christ Jesus "the name that is above every name,"

those who confess him are not ruled by the names

given to them by the principalities and powers but are freed

to live to God.

And it makes all the difference in the world.

The woman wakes up in the morning,

her life as shattered as the bottle

she threw against the wall before she passed out.

But the name of Jesus is above the name alcoholic

and those who are in him

know that booze does not have the final word.

Those old people with their walkers, they get up oft their broken legs and walk.

And when they cannot walk anymore,

they lie down to die.

And they call it sleep,

because Christ Jesus is stronger than death.

The black people in South Africa chafe in their chains;

some of them are taken off the streets and left in cages,

four feet wide, four feet high, four feet deep,

left there for months,

not enough room to stretch out, not enough room to stand up.

But still they stagger out

in the face of the principalities and powers.

Sri Lanka is an island in revolution. Constant conflict between the Tamils, a minority population,

and the majority group who refuse to share

money, jobs, and, hospitals, schools, power.

A Tamil student came to our school because his life had been threatened too many times.

As the year came to a close, and he packed his bag to go back, someone asked him,


"Why are you going back to that danger?"

"I have seen the Lord of glory," he said.

"What can those two-bit caesars do to me?"

When we confess him,

his victory is our victory

and no matter what our circumstances

it makes all the difference in the world.

And your calling, Wyatt,

is to make that clear:

Jesus is Lord.

Lord over cocaine.

Lord over IBM.

Lord over Ronald Reagan.

Lord over the church.

It is also your calling to make clear

how the church lives

in the light of the sovereignty of Christ.

You have help,

and from a reputable source.

The Apostle Paul quotes an ancient Christian hymn.

"Have this mind among yourselves,

which is (already) yours in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,

did not count equality with God

a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself,

taking the form of a (slave)."

Do you get the picture?

The mind of Christ Jesus is the mind of self-emptying.

The mind of Christ Jesus is the mind that asks,

"What can our church give for the life of the world?" (pause)


This, of course, is just contrary

to the way we usually think.

In a world of uncertainty and anxiety,

a world in which we live

in the shadow

of the mushroom cloud,

in this world our natural inclination

is to gather security to ourselves,

to hang on

to what we've got, and to ask,

"What's in it for me?"

But in the church, this way of thinking

neglects just one thing:

God has already exalted Christ Jesus,

and given him the Name

which is above every name.

Even when we are emptied,

we are in the hands

of the One

who is the power of life itself.

And it makes all the difference

in the way we think and act

in the church.

What can those two-bit caesars do to you now? First thing in the morning

the parents of two twelve-year-olds

stop by the office.

"We're concerned," they say.

"We're concerned about that boy Jimmy going on the church retreat this weekend.

You know he was held back a year in school, so he should really be in the tenth


He comes from a broken home

and he's by himself a lot and he roams the streets at night.

He uses some words I have never even heard

and I was in the Navy. We're just concerned

that he is going to be at the retreat with our children."

And as they spoke those words, "Our children,"

you could almost smell

the sweet flowers of innocence and purity.

But the issue is not,

how can we protect our kids from Jimmy? is it?

The issue is:

how can we take the form of a servant for him

and for these fearful parents?

That afternoon on a pastoral call,

a couple announces

that they will cancel their pledge

if the piece of lint underneath the southwest corner

of the refrigerator

has not been removed

before Sunday.

Well, I am not in favor of lint. But isn't it better

to put to the pastor a question like this:

How can we empty our refrigerator to feed hungry people

to the glory of God?

At the board meeting that night

the first item of business

was the new speed bump

on the parking lot.

Should it be painted

fluorescent green

or fluorescent yellow?

What do you think?

Under the high-beams on a dark night,

which better reflects the vision

of the exalted Christ,

fluorescent green

or fluorescent yellow?

Suppose you heard that Gleaners Food Bank

was running out of food? What would you do?

What would your vote be if a family moved out

from the near east side and came forward on the invitational hymn to join this church, and they were black?

How would you respond if someone stepped forward

to teach Sunday school, and he or she had AIDS?

Surely by now it is clear.

When Jesus is Lord, every vote of the board is a vote of self-emptying.

When Jesus is Lord every decision of the congregation is a decision for servanthood.

Every knock on every door is a knock of confession.

Every sermon, Wyatt, is given on bended knee.

And it makes all the difference in the world.


The goal of the sermon is to give the congregation the opportunity to realize afresh the freedom and security that has been given to it in the emptying and the exaltation of Christ Jesus and to encourage the congregation to think again about its response to that soteriological event. The sermon does not make specific social recommendations but sets forth a perspective which, when applied to specific situations in the life of the congregation and the world, can lead to specific attitudes, decisions, and programs.

The sermon is structured in two large parts that are related to each other like an hour glass with two unequally sized sections.


Part One

The sovereignty of Christ

makes all the difference

for those who

live in the


Part Two


respond to

his sovereignty

with self-giving.


The first part moves to a climax ("Jesus is Lord ... Lord over cocaine, over IBM, over Ronald Reagan, over the church") and is the basis for the second part. The second part presents a single idea through a clear statement that is made concrete by a series of images.

This structure was chosen for three reasons. First, as indicated in the essay above, the inductive structure is well suited to sermons that ask the congregation to look at life from a perspective different from its usual one. The text and the sermon ultimately challenge the self-centered ethos of our culture and the similar tendencies in the congregation.

Second, the assuring images of the exaltation and sovereignty of Christ intentionally appear in the sermon before the possibility of congregational self-emptying because the latter is possible only on the basis of the former. The listener experiences the power and strength of God and thereby is given the strength to respond to God. Under ordinary circumstances we change only to the degree that we feel secure. When we are assured of our ultimate security in God, then we are freed to entertain new and different possibilities. In a world in which the dominant pattern is to gather security for oneself, even at the expense of others, the church is given the final security.

Third, the structure of the sermon demonstrates the theological priority of grace. Self-giving is an appropriate response to the sovereignty of God expressed for the church through Christ.

The images of people and situations in the sermon are intended both to reflect the constituency of the congregation and to give them a vision of the sovereignty of Christ that transcends both time and space. The congregation thus realizes the significance of the exaltation of Christ for its own life and for lives and situations far removed from the cornfields west of Indianapolis.

Several aspects of the sermon intentionally echo the hymnic form of the text. Obviously the intent of the sermon is close to the intent of the text: to create a living image that can be carried from the sanctuary as a source of power for living and as a lens through which to interpret the world. Indeed, the text becomes a norm by which all structures of authority are measured. Do they embody the world view (epitomized in Phil. 2:6-8) that gives glory to God? Further, the sermon, like the hymn, employs extensive parallelism and repetition and also has a rhythm (which is easier to speak and hear than to read). These are characteristic of oral speech patterns and aid the congregation in both remembering and internalizing the sermon.

Throughout, contemporary themes, images, and allusions are used to establish similarity between the Philippian situation and the modern situation. This accomplishes several things. For one, it makes the situation of the Philippians interesting to the modern listener. For another, it allows the perspective of the text to become plausible as a perspective for the modern congregation. For still another, it leads the community to look for other contemporary situations to which the text might speak. The hymnic patterns of parallelism, repetition, and rhythm reinforce this aim as they help the hymn and the sermon get under the skin of the congregation.

When a series of images or vignettes is used, they always move from the most familiar to the least familiar, from the least threatening to the most threatening. For example, at the end of the sermon, the snapshots from the life of the congregation go from the two parents, with whom the congregation can readily identify, to the questions about the acceptability of a Sunday school teacher who has AIDS. Such a progression allows the hearers first to establish a sympathetic identification with the line of thought and then to have that identification sensitively enlarged. The congregation is more likely to stay with the preacher and to give the latter images a fair hearing than it would if it is shocked and stunned at the beginning.

The second part of the sermon begins with the approach that Fred Craddock calls "overhearing."(45) Rather than being addressed directly, the congregation "listens in" as I say a few words to the pastor. Although the words are spoken to him, they are heard by the worshipers. The preacher speaks directly to the local pastor with the congregation present and listening in. Gradually the congregation is addressed directly.

The sermon suggests that our view of the world and all our relationships take their cue from the vision of Philippians 2:5-11. Words spoken on special occasions can have special power. I hope that the sermon gives the pastor and the congregation something to which they can return again and again.


1. . What I am calling the "world view" is called by other names. Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, for instance, refer to it as the "symbolic universe," The Social Construction of Reality (New York: Doubleday, 1966), especially 85 ff. Kenneth Boulding speaks of this as "the image," "what I believe to be true," The Image (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1956), 6. Essential to the discussion from a sociological perspective is the work on "the life world" by Schutz. See Alfred Schutz and Thomas Luckmann, The Structures of the Life World, trans. R. M. Zaner and H. T. Englehardt, Jr. (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973), especially 247-51; Schutz, Life Forns and Meaning Structures, trans. R. Wagner (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982) and Scbutz, Collected Papers, vol.1 (The Hague: Nij hoff, 1973), 5. See further, Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy (New York: Doubleday, 1967), note 1,13. Among theologians who use a very similar notion of the "world" from the discipline of literary criticism are Amos Wilder, for example, "Story and Story World," Interpretation, 37, 1983, 353-64, and John Dominic Crossan, for example, The Dark Interval (Niles: Argus, 1975). To say that the Christian community designs and furnishes its own world is not to deny the existence of God. But the Christian (as well as others, for example, Jewish and Moslem) claim that the world is created, redeemed, and sustained by a gracious and loving God is an interpretation. A problem for the Christian community, especially for the Christian preacher, is the implausibility of this interpretation in the eyes of many people today. Therefore, an important vocation for the pulpit is the justification of the Christian world view. Why can we believe today?

2. Berger and Luckmann, Social Construction, 91, 116. On the motif of terror, see Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return or Cosmos and History, trans. W. R. Trask (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1954), 139 f£

3. Berger and Luckmann, Social Construction, 92. On the question of religious identity, see Hans J. Mol, Identity and the Sacred (New York: Free Press, 1976).

4. Schutz, The Structures of the Life World, 2, 3-19. Berger points out that every social role has a world view dangling from its end, Invitation to Sociology (New York: Doubleday, 1963), 120. For other functions of world view, see Berger and Luckmann, Social Construction, 89-96.

5.On the importance of myth, in addition to the essay by Thomas H. Troeger in this volume, see also Susanne K. Langer, Philosophy in a New Key (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1942), 171-73; Ernst Cassirer, Language and Myth, trans. S. K. Langer (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956); Cassirer, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, trans. R. Mannheim, vol.2 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955). Ian Barbour has argued that we no longer live as much by myth as by models. But the effect upon human community is much the same in either case, Myths, Models and Paradigms (New York:Harper & Row, 1974).

6.On the social power of a community of memory and hope, see Robert N. Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 152-55. See also James Gustafson, Treasure in Earthen Vessels (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), 71-98.

7.Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 20.

8.Boulding, The Image, 6.

9.George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). See also George H. Mend, Mind, Self, and Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934), 337-53; Philip Wheelwright, Metaphor and Reality (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1962); Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1954), 1-33; Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor, trans. R. Cterny (Toronto: University ofToronto Press, 1977);]. D. Sapier and]. C.Crocker, eds., The Social Use of Metaphor: Essays on the Anthropology of Rhetoric (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977); and Max Black, Models and Metaphors (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1962), 153-69.

10.Gibson Winter, Liberating Creation: Foundations of Religious Social Ethics (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1981), 6. Similar themes are developed by Joe Holland, "Linking Social Analyses and Theological Reflection: The Place of Root Metaphors in Social and Religious

Experience," Tracing the Spirit, ed. J. E. Hug, S.J. (New York: Paulist Press, 1983), 170-96.

11.Winter, Liberating Creation, 1.

12.Ibid., 21. The church, as a community, is organized by its own root metaphors. These deserve our most careful attention. For help, see Susan B. Thistlewaithe, Metaphors for the Contemporary Church (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1983); Avery Dulles, Models of the Church (New York: Doubleday, 1974); and Paul Minear, Images of the Church in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960).

13.The metaphor for God that is most difficult to assess for its contemporary usefulness is "father." For representative critiques and critical appropriation see Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father (Boston: Beacon Press, 1973); Sallie McFague, Metaphorical Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), especially 145-92; Diane Tennis, Is God the Only Reliable Father? (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1985).

14.In some quarters today the words "sermon" and "preaching" have remarkably negative connotations, for example, "Don't preach to me!"

15.James Cone finds that in traditional theological discourse, issues relative to race have received remarkably little attention, God of the Oppressed (New York: Seabury Press, 1975), 62-83.

16.For example, see Rosentenne B. Purnell, "Teaching Them to Curse: Racial Bias in Language, Pedagogy and Practice," Phylon, 43,1982, 231-82.

17.Ossie Davis, "The English Language Is My Enemy," Negro History Bulletin, 30, April 1967, 18.

18. A foundational study is still Robin Lakhoff, Language and Woman's Place (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 4, 19-21.

19. Cassey Miller and Kate Swift, Words and Women (New York: Doubleday, 1976), 59.

20. Alma Graham, "The Making of a Non-Sexist Dictionary," Language and Sex, eds. B. Thorne and N. Henley (Rowley, Mass.: Newbury Press, 1975), 58.

21.Joseph M. Scheidler, Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion (Westchester, Ill.: Good News Publishers, 1985).

22. For a series of fascinating studies of this phenomenon, see Language and the Nuclear Arms Debate, ed. Paul Chilton (Dover, N.H.: Pinter Press, 1985).

23. Dwight Bolinger, Language: The Loaded Weapon (New York: Long-mans, 1980).

24.By itself, a single sermon will usually be insufficient to effect a shift in congregational world view. But the sermon is the most consistent and public statement of the Christian vision and thus plays a crucial role in the social life of the community. When the Christian world view consistently informs each sermon, and when the whole of its life is shaped by the Christian world view, then the congregation will be likely to live Out of that view.

25.Rudolph Bultmann, "Is Exegesis Without Presuppositions Possible?" Existence and Faith, trans. Schubert Ogden (New York: World Books, 1960), 289-96.

26.One of the values of the various liberation movements is the clarity with which they see the vested interests of traditional modes of interpretation and of interpreters who are a part of the power-base of the First-World establishment.

27.See Allene Stuart Phy, ed., The Place of the Bible in Popular Culture (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1985).

28.This example was called to my attention by my former colleague, Professor Preman Niles. Professor Niles indicated that it was based on research by Meinhert Grumm.

29.On the hermeneutic of suspicion, see especially the many writings of Paul Ricoeur.

30. For a method of making such an assessment, see Ronald J. Allen, Contemporary Biblical Interpretation for Preaching (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1984), 83-94,141-42.

31.Schutz, for example, Collected Papers, vol. 1, 74-77; vol.2, 31.

32.For critical presentations of approaches to this correlation, see David M. Tracy, The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of Pluralism (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1981); see also his Blessed Rage for Order (New York: Seabury Press, 1975); James A. Sanders, "Hermeneutics," Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: Supplement, ed. Keith A. Crim (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1975), 406; and Neill Q. Hamilton, Jesus for a No God World (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1969), 176 f£

33.For explorations in this regard, see Walter Brueggemann,"'Vine and Fig Tree': A Case Study," Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 43, 1981, 188-204, and "Theological Education: Healing the Blind Beggar," Christian Century, 103, 1986, 114-16.

34.The preeminent study is still Fred B. Craddock, As One Without Authority, 3rd ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1979).

35. Lakoff and Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, 144-45.

36.Bolinger, Language: The Loaded Weapon, 72-88.

37. Ibid., 86.

38. Ibid., 84.

39.Joyce 0. Hertzler, A Sociology of Language (New York: Random House, 1965), 267-68. The work of Walter J. Ong has renewed interest in characteristics of oral culture. See especially his The Presence of the Word (New HavenYale University Press, 1967); and Ong, Orality and Literacy (New

York: Methuen Press, 1982); see also Werner H. Kelber, The Oral and the Written Gospel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982).

40. The literature on this passage is vast. The most exhaustive study is Ralph P. Martin, Carmen Christi (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1983, originally published in 1967). See also his Philippians, New Century Bible (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1980). Gerald F. Hawthorne

provides a comprehensive survey of the discussion on each disputed point in Philippians, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1983). Other worthwhile studies include J. F. Collange, The Epistle of Saint Paul to the Philippians, trans. A. W. Heathcoate (London: Epworth Press, 1979); Fred B. Craddock, Philippians, Interpretation (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985), written especially for the preacher; L. E. Keck, "The Letter of Paul to the Philippians," The Interpreter's One Volume Commentary on the Bible, ed. Charles M. Lay mon (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1971). Deserving of consideration is Karl Barth's theological commentary, The Epistle to the Philippians, trans. J. W. Leitch (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1962). Jack T. Sanders, The New Testament Christological Hymns (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 197 1) offers a valuable discussion of the hymn in the context of other hymns of the canonical literature of the early church.

41.See Peter Berger, Brigette Berger, Hansfried Kellner, The Homeless Mind (New York: Random House, 1973).

42.The indispensable study is Bellah at al., Habits of the Heart. See also Daniel Yankelovich, New Rules: Searching for Self-FulfilIment in a World Turned Upside Down (New York: Bantam Books, 1981).

43.Still illuminating is Thomas Luckmann, The Invisible Religion (New York: Macmillan, 196~), 107-14.

44. Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978).

45.Fred B. Craddock, Overhearing the Gospel (Nashville: Abingdon Press,