Theological Wisdom for Preaching and Teaching, Issue 97

November 3, 2016 by Presbyterian Foundation

Theological wisdom (and theological foolishness) is not the private preserve of professional theologians. Many contemporary novelists deal sensitively with religious themes, often offering provocative insights that pastors can use to good effect in preaching and teaching. Brief quotes do not do justice to the novels from which they are taken, but they can provide wise, often startling, sometimes humorous, but always thought-provoking resources within sermons and adult education.

From time to time, the Presbyterian Foundation shares some wisdom from novels as a small contribution to pastors who seek to proclaim the gospel faithfully week in and week out.

On Evangelism:

After a minute the woman said, “We’re a mission church. So I’m supposed to try to bring you to Jesus. But I won’t if you don’t want me to. Try, I mean. Some people think it’s irritating when I do that. I guess I’m not much good at it.”

Lila said, “I wouldn’t mind talking about something else.”

     Marilynne Robinson, Lila

On Church:

Church bells ring loudly. He moves to her side of the bed to watch the crisply dressed people go into the limestone church across the street, whose lit window had lulled him to sleep. He reaches and pulls up the shade a few feet. The rose window is dark now, and above the church, above Mt. Judge, the sun glares in a façade of blue. It strikes a shadow down from the church steeple, a cool stumpy negative in which a few men with flowers in their lapels stand and gossip while the common sheep of the flock stream in, heads down. The thought of those people having the bold idea of leaving their homes to come here and pray pleases and reassures Rabbit.

     John Updike, Rabbit, Run [90]

On Institutions:

First you notice that there are many blunders: the good are going to Hell and the bad to Heaven. When you approach the woman at the front desk to inquire, you find she is recalcitrant and insolent. She tells you to go to line number seven, where you will fill out a complaint form and turn it in to desk number thirty-two. As you wait in line and strike up a conversation with the woman behind you, you discover that that afterlife was long ago given over to committees.

     David Eagleman, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives [52]

Featured Video: Project Regeneration – Friendship Presbyterian Church

What would church be like if you didn’t have to worry about the boiler breaking, the roof leaking, or the bank account drying up? For Friendship Presbyterian Church, the answer was “Whatever God put on our hearts!” Find out how they did it.

Project Regeneration: Friendship Presbyterian from Presbyterian Foundation on Vimeo.