Augsburg Fortress

When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit

When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit

In When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit, Jay Augustine urges twenty-first-century preachers to speak openly against social injustice, establishing such preaching as a key component of prophetic leadership.

Beginning with the premise that the church was birthed to address salvation in the "kingdom-to-come" and social justice in the "kingdom-at-hand," Augustine presents prophetic preaching as part of the ministry of reconciliation Jesus left to the church. Addressing topics such as abusive immigration policies and racial injustices, he urges the church to return to its foundation of prophetic leadership as exemplified not only by Jesus but by the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles.

When Prophets Preach demonstrates that faithfulness to this ministry requires preachers to break the pulpit silence. Then the church can lead in bridging social and ethnic gaps among its members. It can show society at large how to heal many of the social, economic, and political divisions in our world, the very rifts that underscore the need for social justice ministries and that necessitate prophetic preaching.

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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506479187
  • eBook ISBN 9781506479194
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 152
  • Publication Date March 28, 2023


Jay Augustine's newest book, When Prophets Preach, makes clear the power that can come from the pulpit, as preaching--effective, inspired preaching--brings heaven's voice to the very real hurts and injustices of this world.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and author of The Power of Love

When Prophets Preach clearly identifies the challenge of prophetic preaching that is both divinely inspired and socially determined. Using Jesus as a model for the prophetic preacher, Jay Augustine makes the case that the traditional salvific message of the gospel is not in competition with the message of social justice/prophetic preaching. Rather, he establishes the necessity for prophetic preaching in an era in American culture that is rife with injustice, inequality, and the dangerous rise of an evangelical liberalism that supports, rather than condemns, these kinds of inequities. This book is a must-read for anyone who dares enter the pulpit. It challenges all proclaimers of the gospel to be relevant in their preaching about the ways in which the real lives of people are being impacted by today's social ills and the message of hope that comes through the Christian faith.

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Ecumenical Bishop and Program Development Officer, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Unpacking the alchemy of gospel proclamation and social transformation, Jay Augustine offers a field guide for aspiring prophets. A historic and biblical survey with urgent summons and a toolbox for reconciliation and repair, When Prophets Preach is essential reading for clergy and congregations seeking to grow their courage and translate ideals of justice into action.

Rev. Dr. Katie Crowe, senior pastor, Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church

In When Prophets Preach, Jay Augustine makes an overwhelmingly convincing case for political witness and social-justice action in the ministry of the churches, such that if one reads it thoroughly, one is likely to suspect cowardice if the prophetic dimension finds no place in preaching and general pastoral leadership. Hopefully, digesting the spirit of this work will lead clergy and laity alike to pray earnestly for the courage to bear witness to the truth and justice God demands of us all.

James A Forbes, senior minister emeritus, The Riverside Church, New York

Jay Augustine proves again that he is an incisive and insightful practitioner of the Black prophetic tradition. When Prophets Preach helps the reader to clearly distinguish the difference between the liberation theology of the Black church and the dangerous ideology of white Christian nationalism. Using his bivocational voice as a legal scholar and theologian, Augustine helps us follow the path of the proclamation of the good news from a contested tradition toward reclaiming a crucial trajectory in the fight for justice, equality, and democracy. This book breathes new life into the homiletic task, activating a vital method for engaging contemporary Christians in the good fight of faith toward realizing a reconciled, restored, and redeemed Beloved Community.

Lester A. McCorn, president, Clinton College

The Reverend Attorney Jay Augustine demonstrates once again what a great asset he is to the body of Christ. In this volume he not only gives the reader a historical sketch of the benefits of what prophetic preaching has meant to the Black church and, more importantly, to the Black community, but he also challenges the present-day preacher to reclaim their position as the Lord's instrument for liberation and empowerment through prophetic preaching and leadership. This is a must-read!

John R. Bryant, senior bishop (ret.), African Methodist Episcopal Church

When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit is a cogently written, thought-provoking, troubleshooting tool for both new and seasoned clergy to advance the pastoral ministry. The author presents various viewpoints to stimulate discussion and reflection through his views and personal commentaries. Jay Augustine challenges readers to formulate their position based on prophets' unique ability to use the pulpit as a platform for healing churches, communities, and the problems impacting today's global society. When Prophets Preach is another giant step forward in addressing issues affecting our local and international communities, and the critical role of the pulpit in orchestrating high-quality solutions for pulpit and pew as partners in spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and mental awakening processes for resolving both local and global problems.

James Levert Davis, Presiding Prelate, Second Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church

As a preacher, I am intimately aware of the excuses, exhaustion, equivocation, rationalization, and real fear that keep a sermon from addressing injustices of the day. This book is the call to courage that will be on my desk at all times. With history, theology, and no-holds-barred present-day examples, Jay Augustine offers preachers the pep talk we need to face this moment.

Rev. Rebecca Gillespie Messman, senior pastor, Burke Presbyterian Church (USA)

Jay Augustine brilliantly and insightfully weds his high social-justice IQ with his considerable skills and gifts as a preacher-scholar to gift the church in general, and preachers in particular, with this timely challenge to regain our prophetic voice. The fragile democratic experiment of the American Empire continuously battling internal forces of neofascism and a world trying to rebuild in the shadows of a death-dealing pandemic beg for prophetic preaching that is a mirror, depicting the ills and injustices of the body politic, and a window, through which we can re-vision, with hope, what is possible. Caution: Read this book and be prepared for pulpit renewal, church revival, and a social and political revolution that may "turn the world upside down."

Frederick Douglass Haynes III, senior pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church, and author of Rockin' the World with Your Words: An Essential Guide to Developing and Delivering a Life Changing Message

In a historical moment when personal piety without community accountability unfortunately has ascended as the popular mode of spiritual discourse, thought leader, activist, and preacher Jay Augustine has recalibrated our focus toward justice with this book. The prophetic tradition articulated in this publication is the balm our nation needs to confront the trauma of our unexamined history and to heal. This publication deserves a space on bookshelves and university curriculum across this country.

Otis Moss III, senior pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, and professor of homiletics, McAfee School of Theology

Jay Augustine is a preacher, a pastor, a poet, and a prophet. His passion comes through on every page, and the text is both inspirational and concretely helpful--a rare combination. When Prophets Preach is a must-read for every preacher who longs to do justice from the pulpit.

Mindy Makant, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lenoir-Rhyne University