Narrative, Preaching, and Formation

Publication Date



This dissertation focuses on the place of narrative in the transformational encounter that can take place between hearers of sermons and God. Chapter 1 surveys the history and development of contemporary scholarship related to narrative preaching. It argues that most homileticians consider narrative either as a way of structuring sermons, or as a theological lens for explaining the broad work of God in history. Few scholars, however, have enlisted a narrative approach to investigate the encounter between God and humans that can take place in preaching. The remainder of the dissertation seeks to explore this relationship between narrative, preaching, and the transformation of human hearers. Chapter 2 addresses divine self-revelation from a narrative perspective. It argues God’s self-revelation is often incarnational, i.e., mediated in terms of human experiences. Narrative language and concepts are essential for interpreting human experience, therefore, a narrative perspective can shed light on the four movements of initial divine revelation, development of scripture, ongoing revelation, and Christian formation. Chapter 3 describes the centrality of narrative in the functioning and formation of the human mind. It argues that the human capacity to create and use narratives (or narrativity) is essential to human perception and identity formation. This section elaborates Paul Ricoeur’s concepts of narrative and metaphor to demonstrate the prominent role of narrativity in hermeneutics. Other scholars from the fields of psychology and neuroscience provide further evidence that narrativity is crucial to the functioning of the human mind and in the formation of human identity. Chapter 4 casts a vision for preaching that enlists narrative to weave together God’s action in the world with human interpretations of experience. The preacher as narrator facilitates a double-hermeneutic where humans encounter God as their experiences are re-interpreted in light of the gospel, and as new understandings of the gospel are discovered in light of their experiences. The conclusion suggests areas where ideas developed in this dissertation regarding narrative, preaching, and Christian formation might benefit from further study.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (PhD in Theology)

First Advisor

Labberton, Mark

Document Type





Narrative preaching, Preaching, Spiritual formation, Protestant churches


Missions and World Christianity


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