“About every 50 years, American preaching has a nervous breakdown,” asserts Thomas Long in the introduction to his new book Preaching from Memory to Hope (Westminster John Knox). “What happens is that trusted structures and strategies of the pulpit suddenly seem to lose their potency; and worried preachers, their confidence shaken, begin to scramble for the next new thing.”
Long is one of the most gifted homileticians in the mainline church today, and his insights will be read with interest by anyone who is serious about preaching. Among the topics Long addresses are the swing away from narrative preaching (a theme that has dominated preaching texts for the past two decades), dealing with the new spirituality (which he pegs quite accurately, I think—to a large extent, the old Gnosticism) and what he considers the neglected theme in preaching, eschatology. (Tom hasn’t been in some of the churches I’ve visited, where eschatology is a regular topic!)
While the book is written by and for mainline church leaders, Long should be embarrassed at elitist phrases such as “the droolings of the Left Behind crowd,” this is nevertheless a book that deserves to be read by those who are serious about preaching in today’s culture. Preaching from Memory to Hope is filled with hope for the future of preaching.