Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Munus Triplex as a Paradigm for Preaching


John Calvin made much theologically of the three offices of Christ – prophet, priest, and king (the three main offices in the Israel of the Old Testament).  I want to float another use of this Calvinistic distinctive in this post – as a paradigm for preaching. 

A lingering question for preaching, at least for me, is how it proclaims the gospel it is authorized to declare.  I guess I’m really pushing toward a biblical rhetoric for preaching.  Part of the issue is the overall theological perspective one brings to preaching.  By this I mean the fundamental distinction Paul makes in 1 Corinthians between a “theology of glory” and a “theology of the cross.”  We must, I think, side with Paul and work out of the “theology of the cross” he develops and practices throughout his ministry.

Within that overall perspective, the munus triplex may offer a helpful way to move toward a rhetoric of preaching.  It might look something like this:

Munus Triplex
Prophet
Priest
King
 
Aim of Preaching
Helps people to engage, embrace, and process loss (W. Brueggemann)
Helps people engage and process the divine presence in their midst
Helps people engage, embrace, and process life in the world
Rhetoric of Preaching
Allusive, poetic, open-ended, names fear and anxiety
Declares presence (or absence) of God, leads praise, lament, holds world before God
Tells story of new creation, describes what the Cross demands, costs, and creates in the world  

 Well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten with this.  Any thoughts or critiques?

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