Preaching vs. Antiverbal Culture

“We see the impact of suspicion of words even within the Christian church. At the Reformation, preaching came to supplant the Mass as the central act of corporate Christian worship; underlying this shift was a move toward an understanding of the gospel and of salvation as being by faith in that promise. Thus, proclamation of that promise in words moved to center stage. In recent decades, however, many churches have shifted preaching from this central place. In some contexts, preaching has not been abandoned; rather, it has been relativized and now stands alongside dramatic performances, candles, incense, and small group discussion. In other contexts, preaching has been pushed completely aside for conversational discourse, where the authoritative voice of the preacher has been replaced by a more democratic dialogue. Underlying all these shifts, in practice if not always in terms of self-conscious planning, is a suspicion that proclaimed words are no longer a reliable authority, or, perhaps better, a plausible authority, given the wider antiverbal cultural dispositions” (Carl R. Trueman, The Creedal Imperative, 34).