Doug Pagitt’s altered view of preaching is presented in Preaching Re-Imagined: The Role of the Sermon in Communities of Faith. Speaching is what Pagitt derisively calls historic preaching or one way communication by the pastor. Pagitt admits candidly: “As the pastor I’m often referred to as ‘the preacher.’ And frankly, this is a role I no longer relish. There was a time when I did….Those days are gone. Now I find myself regularly redefining my role and the role of preaching.” Pagitt states that “Preaching doesn’t work—at least not in the ways we hope…preaching, as we know it, is a tragically broken endeavor…great preaching isn’t sufficient.”
Speaching, according to Pagitt, is modernistic because it is characterized by absolute truth and authorial intent i.e., one interpretation communicated by the preacher. The effect of deconstruction is heard in Pagitt’s alternative view to preaching which he calls progressional dialogue: “Progressional dialogue (hereafter PD), on the other hand, involves the intentional interplay of multiple viewpoints that leads to unexpected and unforeseen ideas.”
Pagitt’s alternative, PD, is interactive with the community of God. The alternative is a direct result of Pagitt’s low view of Scripture. PD is interaction with the community who possess just as much of the Word as does the Bible we hold in our hand. “Now that we read the Bible, we tend to think of it as being in a different class from the Word of God still living in our brothers and sisters….This testimony can and should be offered in narrative as complex as the Bible itself. It can and should be listened to with the same sense of respect and reverence as the Bible itself.’” In another place, Pagitt writes that “progressional dialogue creates a relationship in which the Bible becomes a living member of the community. I’ve found that when others are allowed to speak, they often refer to parts of the Bible that are seemingly unrelated to the passage on which the sermon is based. But I am constantly amazed at how their insights or sense of a passage add depth to what I’ve said or spark ideas from others in our community. When this happens, the Bible becomes part of our conversation, not a dead book from which I extract truth.” So if Pagitt preaches in the traditional way, the Bible is a dead book, but if the community dialogues then the Bible is a living Book. The writer of Hebrews would disagree (Heb 4:12).
The result of these communal sermons is multiple views of Scripture. The Bible is only one member of the community contributing to the dialogue. No one person should be declaring to God’s people what the Bible says, according to Pagitt. “There is something dangerous in the life of the preacher who regularly tells others how things are, could be, or ought to be.” This is directly opposed to Paul, who commanded as one of the required 16 qualifications to be a pastor in 1st Timothy 3:1-7 was to be “apt to teach.”
Even the unsaved are welcomed to share in the community producing unsaved preachers. “There are many Christians who might be open to progressional dialogue but fear the input of those outside the church. For them if a person isn’t part of the Christian faith, then we shouldn’t listen to him on things of faith and the Christian life….It’s the Holy Spirit who is the arbiter of truth. The peace we have ought to come from the Spirit of God and not from our ability to control who speaks.”
In Pagitt’s view, one man proclaiming God’s Word is arrogant and too authoritative. Driscoll offers this refutation: “This makes about as much sense as shooting your doctor and gathering with the other patients in his lobby to speculate about what is wrong with one another and randomly write out prescriptions for one another in the name of equality.” It is no surprise that the content of these dialogues is not doctrine as with historic preaching but the experiences of the community. “So our sermons are not lessons that precisely define belief so much as they are stories that welcome our hopes and ideas and participation.” The center piece of preaching, according to the imperative in 2 Tim 4:2, is “the Word” not the experiences of people.
Preaching is a priority of the church according to 2 Tim. 4:1-6. Preaching is the ministry of God called men whom God has equipped to be “apt to teach.” This is not a qualification of every member of the church, not even the deacons. But “apt to teach” which is synonymous with preaching in the context of 1 Tim 3:1-7 is one of the primary responsibilities of the pastor.
Another anti-preaching argument by Pagitt is that speaching or historic preaching is just another adverse result of the Enlightenment. Pagitt, the revisionist, rewrites the history of preaching: “In reality speaching is quite new, a creation of Enlightenment Christianity in which faith formation was understood as something best handled by the ‘expert’ (aka the pastor).” “In reality preaching as speaching is quite new. In fact, it is the creation of Enlightenment Christianity.” Another example of Pagitt’s deconstructed history is this statement: “Basically all people before the 1700′s and those living in nonindustrialized settings in our day were not adversely affected by the lack of speeches” Calvin is just one glaring refutation to Pagitt’s undocumented arguments. Calvin was committed to verse by verse expository preaching through books of the Bible. He preached…
89 sermons on Acts between 1549 and 1554,
a shorter series on some of the Pauline letters between 1554 and 1558,
and 65 sermons on the Harmony of the Gospels between 1559 and 1564.
During this same time, on weekday mornings he preached series of
sermons on Jeremiah and Lamentations up to 1550, on the Minor Prophets
and Daniel from 1550 to 1552, 174 sermons on Ezekiel from 1552 to 1554,
159 sermons from Job from 1554 to 1550, 200 sermons on Deuteronomy
from 1555 to 1556, 353 sermons on Isaiah from 1556 to 1559, 123 sermons
on genesis from 1559 to 1561, a short series on Judges in 1561, 107 sermons
on 1 Samuel and 87 sermons on 2 Samuel from 1561 to 1563, and a series on
1 Kings in 1563 and 1564.
Because the church and state were not separate, and Calvin had elders who were also city council members, who could overrule the decisions of the church, Calvin faced unique battles as a pastor.
The Libertines, boasted in sinful licentiousness. Sexual immorality was permissible, they claimed, arguing that the ‘communion of the saint’ meant that their bodies should be joined to the wives of others. The Libertines openly practiced adultery and yet desired to come to the Lord’s Table. But Calvin would have none of it. In an epic encounter, Philibert Berthelier, a prominent Libertine, was excommunicated because of his known sexual promiscuity. Consequently, he was forbidden from partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Through the underhanded influence of the Libertines, the City Council overrode the church’s decision, and Berthelier and his associates came to church to take the Lord’s Supper with swords drawn, ready to fight. With bold audacity, Calvin descended from the pulpit, stood in front of the Communion table, and said, ‘These hands you may crush, these arms you may lop off, my life you may take, my blood is yours, you may shed it; but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profaned and dishonor the table of my God.’ Berthelier and the Libertines withdrew, no match for such unflinching convictions.
Eventually, Calvin was banished from Geneva for three years (1538-1541) because of his refusal to allow the spiritually unqualified to partake of the Lord’s Table. Finally the struggling city of Geneva invited Calvin to return. On September 13, 1541, Calvin returned after his three year banishment. He entered his old pulpit and began, “I will begin my exposition by reading our text for the morning…” and he announced the verses following the exact place he had left off three years before. Calvin started preaching on the next verse.”
 Doug Pagitt. Preaching Re-Imagined(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 10.
 Ibid., 18-19.
 Ibid., 52.
 Pagitt reminds us of Barth’s view in regard to preaching. Barth quotes approvingly of Luther’s view that when the preacher preaches, he is speaking God’s Word. In other words, the preacher is not simply preaching God’s infallible Word, with which we would agree, but what the preacher says is God’s infallible Word: “Therefore, we do well to call the pastor’s and preacher’s word which he preacheth, God’s Word. For the office is not the pastor’s or preacher’s, but God’s; and the Word which he preacheth is likewise not the pastor’s or preacher’s, but God’s” Karl Barth, p 107). What is true with the individual, the preacher, in Neo-orthodoxy, is true with the community in the Emerging church.
 Doug Pagitt, Preaching Re-Imaged, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 44, 218.
 Ibid., 32.
 Ibid., 224-225.
 Ibid., 123.
 Mark Driscoll, The Radical Reformation, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 173.
 Doug Pagitt. Church Re- Imagined: The Spiritual Formation of People in Communities of Fatih. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005) 166.
 Pagitt, 28, 60, 113.
 Robert L. Reymound, John Calvin: His Life and Influence, (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2004), 84.
 Steven J. Lawson, The Expository Genius of John Calvin, (Orlando, Reformation Trust, 2007), 16.