A Conversation about Preaching and Politics
Professor Ellen Davis
Duke Divinity School
February 12, 2017
- Relationship between preaching/biblical interpretation and politics
- How to speak about what is going on, about "the political" without being charged with "politicizing"?
- Prophetic preaching - how does that inform what we do in the pulpit?
Preaching / Biblical Interpretation and Politics
We are preaching not our own opinion or position but a story that comes to us from outside ourselves, that we as a church body are willing/constrained to accept as truth.
- Bible speaks to us as a body, which is to say, it is inherently political. Speaks to us as people who live in community, must together negotiate matters of the moral life:
Does that leave anything out?
- human flourishing,
- flourishing of biosphere.
- There is such a thing as truth, and not just fungible facts, which can be endlessly debated. But the conviction that there is such a thing as truth, which can be denied only at the greatest cost - that means that there is such a thing as the moral life, and not just the negotiation and exercise of brute power.
The Difference Between Politics and Politicizing
Politicizing suggests something imposed from without, extraneous.
Who has enough to eat and who doesn't? Who has access to land and water? First stories of Israel as a people: Exodus 15 and 16, purifying the poison water; then manna - everyone has enough to eat, no one too much.
- Gnosticism (the first heresy identified by the church)
- the notion that our material and political existence can be separated from matters of faith
"Poor and vulnerable"
Subaltern ("under-another") perspective in both Old and New Testaments
Question for any preacher: what does it mean to appropriate that story, that language, in our own "imperial culture"?
Elements of a prophetic perspective:
- Listening to God
- The God-given integrity of the created order, which we cannot violate with impunity
- The imperative for moral, religious, and economic integrity within communities
- The theological significance of those who do not share in Israel's covenant with God
Reference was made to the book Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry by Ellen F. Davis, 2014.