Comparison of Willimon and Hilkert’s Theology of Preaching

The Intrusive Word: Preaching to the UnbaptizedIn the attached file you will find a comparison of Will Willimon and Mary Hilkert’s theology of preaching. For the purposes of the study I use The IntrusiveNaming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination Word by Willimon and Naming Grace by Hilkert.

Willimon presents a view that emphasizes transcendence while Hilkert’s view emphasizes immanence. Here are the final two paragraphs of the review.

I think Willimon’s elimination of grace from human experience is problematic for a few
reasons. First it hides the fact that it privledges one experience, namely the experience
of the church, as the only experience of God’s grace. In contrast my own ethnic tradition
would force me to say that God has been active in my own community within the church
and outside of the church. That ethnic community has been a vehicle for God’s grace to
come into the world transforming it to look more like the divine. I think Hilkert is on the
right track seeking to find grace and the word of God in human experience.

However, I think that Hilkert’s dichotomy between the dialectical and sacramental imaginations
is too strong. I think a methodist understanding of prevenient grace can help us
here. Here there is a general enabling of the entire world to accept or reject God’s revelation.
This is from the Soverign God and is not something that we create on our own. So
prevenient grace can help us overcome the removal of God’s grace from human experience
on the one hand, but it can also help to unify the dialectical and sacramental imaginations
on the other.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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