The influence of Rudolf Bultmann on Evangelical preaching

Posted on May 5, 2008

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Of course, there is a sense in which Bultmann ought to be influential on all preaching, as one of the truly great exegetes of the NT text. Any preacher faced with a text in John who doesn’t reach for Bultmann’s commentary is at best ignorant, and more likely a fool. But that wasn’t really my point…

It strikes me that the best of Evangelical preaching (i.e., that which seriously engages with the text), at least of the sermons that I hear and read, is too influenced by form criticism. Even when a book is preached through sequentially, there is little attention paid, typically, to the overall narrative or logical flow of the book; instead, it is treated as a series of isolated pericopae, to be dealt with and mined for meaning one-by-one, too often with almost no sense that their arrangement within the book is of any consequence to the meaning.

So, from now on my big question for Evangelical preachers is, ‘How Bultmannian are you?’ I predict this will go down a storm.

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