Preaching and the Human Condition

Loving God, Self, & Others

By O. Wesley Allen, Jr. Published
Preaching and the Human Condition
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Sermons often suffer from a lack of adequate analysis and presentation of the human condition.

In the wake of Enlightenment emphasis on the individual and confidence in human progress/ability, sermons often suffer from a lack of adequate analysis and presentation of the human condition. The result is that preachers either 1. (intentionally or unintentionally) offer self-help type messages or 2. fail to help hearers experience the breadth of the good news of Jesus Christ because the bad news of the world is not presented with weight.

In this work, the author proposes to use the pericope in which Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment (Mk 12:2831) as a lens for preachers exploring the human condition cumulatively from three different perspectives across the course of their preaching week in and week out.

Love God suggests a perspective in which the human condition is seen in relation to a broken relationship between humanity and God (vertical).

Love neighbor suggests a perspective in which the broken relationship is between humans and others (horizontal).

And as yourself suggests a brokenness in relationship to ones self (inner).

While different theological schools have emphasized these perspectives differently as the starting points for their anthropology, views of sin,etc., all schools include all three perspectives.

In individual chapters, the author will unpack these three perspectives theologically, move to suggest practical homiletical approaches to preaching in relation to each perspective, and provide a sample sermon dealing with that perspective.


Wes Allens overarching concern, which he reaffirms in every chapter of this book, is with the preachers task of proclaiming how Gods good news addresses the human condition. The result is a book that offers no easy answers but instead enables preachers to preach genuine Christian hope amid the realities of human striving and suffering, and to shine a light on a path for faithful living.

Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Allen offers in this book what may be the single best piece of homiletical advice I have yet encountered: Get out of the baby pool and plunge into deeper waterfocus more narrowly and swim more deeply. There is no way that any one sermon can address or resolve any one aspect of the human condition, but this book shows us how to bring a consciously cumulative approach to our preaching to address the most deeply human issues consistently over a long period of time.

Marvin A. McMickle, President, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, NY

I wish someone had put this book in my hand twenty years ago. I urge any preacher to read it and reread it periodically. If youll take this advice, the people you preach to will be significantly more engaged and transformed by the gospel.

Glen Shoup, Executive Pastor of Worship, The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS

About the Author

O. Wesley Allen, Jr.

O. Wesley Allen, Jr., is Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Preaching at Perkins School of Theology, Dallas, Texas. He is the author of A Homiletic of All Believers, Preaching and Reading the Lectionary, Matthew: Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries and several other books. For many years he was Professor of Preaching at Lexington Theological Seminary, Lexington, Kentucky.