Folly, Grace and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching
John Koessler
Zondervan, 2011, paper, 150 pp., $

Many books are published which deal with the rhetorical elements of preaching—developing the sermon, delivery and so on—but little is published on a theology of preaching. John Koessler steps into that gap with his new book Folly, Grace and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching.

Too much contemporary preaching is trivial, Koessler believes, as it attempts to “smooth out the rough edges of the Christian life and offer pat answers to the audience’s problems.” We follow in Fosdick’s steps, attempting to use preaching to “solve the audience’s problems,” when that is not the primary purpose of preaching. In fact, “it is entirely possible that some preaching, if it is true to Scripture, may actually create problems.”

We preach, he writes, knowing that “Preaching is folly, but it is an intentional folly. Preaching is folly, but it is a folly that saves. We continue to preach because God has bound Himself to the preached message and has promised to use it as an instrument of grace and power. The God who spoke the world into being uses our words to bend the world to His will. This is our conviction, despite the fear and trembling we feel when we stand before God’s people to declare His Word. Our aim is not merely to instruct, much less to entertain. We are waiting on the lightning and thunder. Our aim is to raise the dead.”

He explores the divine and human dimensions of preaching and discusses the nature of the authority of biblical preaching. He emphasizes the necessity of preachers as those who speak for God, trumpeting “God’s final word by preaching Christ crucified.” Along the way, Koessler offers counsel to preachers in today’s church. He concludes with a reaffirmation of the essential partnership of preaching and theology and reminds us preaching is an eschatological act—we proclaim the Christ who came and is coming again.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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