Prophetic Preaching, Pastoral Ministry, and Social Change
KNP3359/6359 (AD)
Knox College, Toronto School of Theology
Winter Term, 2008
Class Sessions: Tuesdays, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM



Prof. David Schnasa Jacobsen
Phone:  519-884‑1970 ext. 3493
Office Hours: By appointment in Waterloo, or Tuesdays at Knox.



Learning Goals:
This course is designed to help students wrestle with several central issues around prophetic preaching in contemporary Christian churches: the relationships of prophetic preaching to the gospel, to the Bible, to the social-political context, and to pastoral ministry generally.  Since the course is designed to be a seminar, students will be expected to wrestle with these issues not only in class but also through a sermon.  By the end of the course, students should be able to develop their own vision for prophetic preaching in a way that integrates the above concerns by moving from a specific Biblical text to a sermon.


Required Hard Copy Texts:
Brueggemann, Walter.  The Prophetic Imagination.  Rev. ed.; Minneapolis:  Augsburg Fortress, 2001.

Cole-Arnal, Oscar.  To Set the Captives Free:  Liberation Theology in Canada.  Toronto:  Between the Lines Press, 1998.

Ramsey, Lee.  Care-full Preaching.  St. Louis:  Chalice, 2000.

Resner, André, ed.  Just Preaching: Prophetic Voices for Economic Justice.  St. Louis: Chalice, 2003.


Recommended Texts (Please Purchase only after Speaking with Professor):

Campbell, Charles.  The Word before the Powers.  Louisville:  WJKP, 2002.

Childs, James. Preaching Justice:  The Ethical Vocation of Word and Sacrament Ministry.  New York: Trinity, 2000.

Smith, Christine M.  Preaching as Weeping, Confession, and Resistance: Radical Responses to Radical Evil.  Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1992.


The percentage of the final grade goes up with each assignment.  One goal of this course is to set a trajectory for learning.  Students need not fret that a difficult first sermon or presentation dooms them to homiletical purgatory.  As the semester progresses, the opportunities for growth and improvement increase.  Yet since pastors almost always must produce weekly sermons without fail, late papers of any sort will result in an automatic reduction of grade by one letter.  The professor also reserves the right to sigh, grumble, and/or harrumph when late papers are submitted.  So there.



Session 1, (January 8)
 Introductions & Discussion of Syllabus

To prepare for Session 2, read Resner (Just Preaching...), chapters 4, 8, 10-12, 15-16, 26, & 30.


Session 2, (January 15)

First Hour:              Lecture–“Prophecy in the Old Testament”   

Second Hour:          Discussion of Readings–How does the OT relate to prophetic preaching?

To prepare for Session 3, read Resner (Just Preaching...) Intro and chapters 2, 3, 5, 6-7, 13, 17, 19, 22, 24, 27 & 31-32.


Session 3, (January 22)

First Hour:              Lecture–“Prophecy in the New Testament”  

Second Hour:          Discussion of Readings–How does the NT relate to prophetic preaching?

To prepare for Session 4, read Cole-Arnal (To Set the Captives Free)


Session 4, (January 29)

First Hour:              Prof. Oz Cole-Arnal, Guest Lecturer–“Prophetic Preaching in Canadian History”

Second Hour:          Book Discussion–Preaching Prophetically in Canada today, in- and out-church.

To prepare for Session 5, read Ramsey (Care-full Preaching).


Session 5, (February 5)

First Hour:              Discuss Ramsey: Preaching Prophetically in a Pastoral Context

Second Hour:          Preaching as a Social Act

To prepare for Session 6, read Brueggemann (Prophetic Imagination)


Session 6, (February 12)

First Hour:  Discuss Brueggemann’s book.

Second Hour:          Some Theological Theses for Prophetic Preaching

To prepare for Sessions 7-9, read Smith (Weeping), Childs (Preaching), or Campbell (Powers)


Session 7, (February 26)

First Hour:              Assignment 1:  Group A Presentation of Smith’s book for class

Second Hour:          Groups B and C Respond


Session 8, (March 4)

First Hour:              Assignment 1, cont.:  Group B Presentation of Childs’ book for class

Second Hour:          Groups A and C Respond


Session 9, (March 11)

First Hour:              Assignment 1, cont.:  Group C Presentation of Campbell’s book for class

Second Hour:          Groups A and B Respond


Session 10, (March 18)

Guest Presenter:  David Pfrimmer.  The Gospel in a Pluralistic Context.  Visit to Queens Park.


Session 11, (March 25)

Assignment 2:  In-class sermons on a text                                                                                                       


Session 12, (April 1)

Assignment 2, cont.:  In-class sermons on a text                                                                                             


Session 13, (April 8)

Assignment 2, cont.:  In-class sermons on a text                                                                                             

Evaluations and Party Time



1.   Book Presentation
Work with your group, covering either Smith, Childs, or Campbell, to present the content of your selection in class.  Students will be marked for how well they (1) present the material in the first hour and (2) provoke/lead discussion in the second. 
Due Date: Session 7, 8, or 9

Percentage of Grade: 30%


2.   Sermon:   Prophetic Sermon from a Biblical Text
Prepare a full sermon manuscript along with a three-page exegetical and homiletical rationale for your sermon that explains why you did what you did exegetically and homiletically with respect to a socio-political issue and relate it to the pastoral context in which it would be heard.  Sermons will be graded on faithfulness to the text, theological adequacy to a gospel vision of grace and justice, and homiletical savvy.  The sermon manuscript and rationale are due at the beginning of the Tuesday class one week before you preach.  Sermon manuscripts and rationales not received at the designated place, date, and time will be docked one full letter grade.
Due Date: One week before Session 11, 12, or 13 (March 18, 25, or April 1 respectively)

Percentage of Grade: 60%


3.   Attendance and Group Participation
In order to learn preaching together regular attendance is expected.  More importantly, however, we will attempt to learn how to preach prophetically as part of a community.  Preachers can expect to benefit homiletically by studying and reflecting with their sisters and brothers in the pulpit and out.  By struggling together with our readings, presentations, and sermons we will also grow together in ways that we can hardly imagine.  This aspect of our time together will necessarily require the voicing of perspectives that some of us often ignore.  Yet this is the greatest blessing preachers can receive.  After all, the Gospel may not come to us who are called to preach, unless it comes first through the voice of Another.  How did Paul put it?:  faith comes by hearing.
Due Date:  Every Class--Percentage of Grade: 10%




Students with disabilities or special needs are advised to contact U of T’s Accessibility

Services for information regarding its services and resources.  Students are encouraged to review the Knox College and TST AD Student Handbooks for information regarding all services available


Knox College uses software that can check for plagiarism.  Students may be required to submit written work in electronic form to have it checked for plagiarism.