If the preaching of the Christian faith is to be thought through, then be as honest as Kees van Ekris

Kees van Ekris
Dialogue, dance and duel. Sermons for contemporaries
Cookbook Center, 352 pages, € 24.99.

Wolter Huttinga

The author

Kees van Ekris is a theologian and program manager for Areopagus / IZB, a center that supports Christians ‘in fulfilling their missionary vocation’. Van Ekris profiles himself as a culturally committed theologian who seriously listens to the Bible and the spirit of the times and is best known by a wider audience for the Bible podcast First this


A book on preaching. Is it worth discussing here, or more a priest’s paper? The great thing about this book is that it’s actually about a lot more. It opens directly with a kind of interpretation of the soul of contemporary culture and in fact never stops there. Rather than just a book on sermons, this is much more than a search for the meaning of the Christian faith in the context of our society.

Of course, that’s not so strange. After all, anyone who preaches tries to do justice to the Bible, the gospel, and at the same time to the hearts and souls of the audience and the culture in which they live. It is a complex and challenging task that theologians are constantly preoccupied with. . Van Ekris takes this game very seriously in his book. He listens curiously to his unbelievers, both inside and outside the church.

But he will also take the Bible seriously, especially where it interrupts or contradicts us. The book can therefore not be read as a unique ‘preaching course’, but primarily takes the reader into an existential exercise that the author presents on each page. The book aims to nurture what Van Ekris calls ‘missionary intelligence’.

sacred activity

The word “existential” appeared quite often during reading. Nowhere is the Christian faith presented as something for granted. At times the author allows himself to speak in ecstasy about the sacred activity of preaching the Word of God, soon he also realizes how grim and depressing the Bible has been for many and listens humbly to the accusations arising from Arjen Lubach’s work or Marieke Lucas Rijneveld .

Van Ekris hates superficiality and passionately encourages us to press deeper layers into the human heart. Silence, meditation, watching movies and reading books, exact exegesis: it all has to draw you into the stream of honest, existential questions that every human being has. According to Van Ekris, this is the correct wavelength of the sermon.

Beautiful sentences

“It may well be that very sterile preaching has to do with a process of preparation in which we as preachers have barely touched the raw material of our own fears, dreams, temperament and resistance. The preacher has remained “too nice”. We have our defense of neatness and convention, of piety and intellect, and we are actually much more “Christian” than the raw emotions we see in the Bible. ‘

Reason not to read this book

Hello, the weather is terribly complex. On the one hand, our culture lives fine without God, but in the meantime it is full of tensions and longings for salvation and redemption. The Bible is sometimes a hammer hammering into your life, sometimes a welcoming welcome. Our hearts long for God and hate God. And all that. Van Ekris does not allow his readers to rest anywhere.

So let me say it ambiguously: I love this and I hate it. Sometimes skepticism wins. Will Van Ekris really achieve anything with all his subtle intelligence and missionary sensitivity? This book appeals especially to other theologians who were already on the same wavelength. The undulating Protestant neighborhood communities will continue to wave. Dull priests will remain dull. The world never gets deep (and yes, of course I think that’s a shame too).

Reason to read this book

And yet, if the preaching of the Christian faith is to be thought through, then so be it. So be sweet with this honesty. With this admirable blend of self-reflection, courage, intelligence and faith. Van Ekris has read, looked, listened, felt and thought through so much. And then dared to preach. The book succeeds in making this an attractive challenge.

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