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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter assesses the Bible in American preaching from the seventeenth century to the present by analyzing dominant uses of scripture in two types of Protestant sermons: the cultic, or those addressed to the faith community, and the civic, or those directed to a public beyond the church. Primary strands of cultic preaching have been the salvation of the soul, associated with John 3:3 and evangelicalism from the Great Awakening forward, and spiritual improvement and well-being, which draws on a wide range of mainly New Testament passages, notably the Sermon on the Mount, and historically has been more pronounced in liberal churches and among Methodists. In recent decades, American civic preaching has been linked to the jeremiad, a form derived from Old Testament prophetic rhetoric, yet it should also be recognized as featuring prominent motifs of freedom and of love, for which the central texts include, respectively, Exodus and the injunction to love thy neighbor as thyself.

Keywords: preaching, sermons, jeremiad, evangelicalism, Protestant, Africans American sermons

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