Ronald Allen, a native of Poplar Bluff Missouri and ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is Professor of Preaching and Gospels and Letters. He has been at CTS since 1982.
He received the PhD degree from Drew University (1977), the MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in New York (1974), and the AB from Phillips University (1971). From 1977 to 1982 he and his spouse, the Reverend Linda McKiernan-Allen, were co-ministers of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Grand Island, Nebraska. Rev. McKiernan-Allen is currently Minister at West Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Tipton, Indiana.
In addition to over 100 articles and chapters in books, Allen is the author of more than forty books that are available from The Christian Theological Seminary Bookstore.
Allen's most recent publication is Sermon Treks: Pathways to Creative Preaching (Abingdon Press, 2014) which proposes a variety of starting points for preparing the sermon from the Revised Common Lectionary, preaching continuously through the Bible, various kinds of sermon series, to free selection of topic or text. His Acts was the first volume published in the Fortress Biblical Commentaries for Preaching series (Fortress Press, 2013).
In 2013 he edited with O. Wesley Allen Jr., and John S. McClure, Under the Oak Tree: The Church as Community of Conversation in a Pluralistic and Conflicted World (Cascade), an anthology exploring how various aspects of the life of the church can have a conversational quality—preaching, worship, leadership, pastoral care, formation, mission, evangelism, and relationship with other religions.
In a forthcoming Abingdon publication, Allen and O. Wesley Allen, Jr., use the figure of different kinds of neighborhoods to describe different approaches to preaching—Hatfield and McCoys (evangelical), apartment house (liberal), gated community (postliberal) , and multicultural community (conversational). Allen and Allen propose conversation as openness to others as a way forward for preaching.
With the support of Christian Theological Seminary and Westminster John Knox Press, Allen and Allen are also the founding editors of the first academic monograph series in preaching in which scholars write explicitly for other scholars,The Westminster Digital Homiletic Monograph Series.
He authored the biblical materials in From Bread and Wine to Faith and Giving, a four sermon stewardship series sponsored by the Center for Faith and Giving of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (2014). He also wrote the biblical materials for a forthcoming stewardship approach for the Center that uses one lectionary text each month for a long term stewardship emphasis. Allen contrasts the typical four week campaign with the long-term emphasis as the difference between one shot and a slow intravenous drip (2015).
With Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm and Dale P. Andrews, he co-edited the three volume Preaching God's Transforming Justice: A Commentary on the Lectionary, with 22 New Holy Days for Justice (Westminster John Knox Press), which not only comments on every reading in the lectionary but also introduces 22 new Holy Days for Justice (e.g., Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Peace in the Home, Yom ha Shoa, Gifts of Sexuality and Gender, Sojourner Truth Day): 2011 (Year B), 2012 (Year C), and 2013 (Year A).
In 2012, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company released Allen's Reading the New Testament for the First Time, a basic orientation to the Gospels and Letters. This book comes with discussion questions for small group use.
A Faith of Your Own: Naming What You Really Believe (Westminster John Knox Press, 2010) is being used in small groups in many congregations nationwide. He has also recently published Preaching and the Other: Studies in Postmodern Insights (Chalice Press, 2010), an exploration of the implications of key postmodern themes for preaching (otherness, deconstruction, social location, transgression, and diversity). Other relatively recent titles are Thinking Theologically: The Preacher as Theologian (Fortress Press, 2008) which describes eleven contemporary theological families and their outcome for preaching, and The Life of Jesus for Today (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), also in use as a study book in many congregations.
From 2000-2004, he directed one of the first studies of people who listen to sermons to determine the qualities in preaching that encourage people to pay attention to the sermon and qualities that discourage them from doing so. This project, funded by the Lilly Endowment, generated four books: Listening to Listeners: Homiletic Case Studies, jointly authored with Dale P. Andrews, L. Susan Bond, John S. McClure, Dan P. Moseley, and G. Lee. Ramsey, Jr., (2004), Hearing the Sermon: Relationship, Content, Feeling (2004), Believing in Preaching: What Laity Think about Sermons, coauthored with Mary Alice Mulligan, Diane Turner-Sharazz and Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm (2004) and, with Mary Alice Mulligan, Make the Word Come Alive: Lessons from Laity (2005). All are published by Chalice Press.
He and Clark M. Williamson have authored a three-volume commentary on the Revised Common Lectionary that identifies and proposes remedies for anti-Jewish tendencies in the lectionary. The series, published by Westminster John Knox Press, is called “Preaching without Prejudice,” with the individual volumes entitled Preaching the Gospels without Blaming the Jews (2004), Preaching the Letters without Dismissing the Law (2006), and Preaching the Old Testament (2007).
Allen and Williamson have also collaborated on The Teaching Minister (Westminster John Knox Press 1991); A Credible and Timely Word: Process Theology and Preaching (Chalice Press, 1991); Adventures of the Spirit: A Guide to Worship from the Perspective of Process Theology (University Press of America, 1997); The Vital Church: Teaching, Worship, Community, Service (Chalice Press, 1997); and Interpreting Difficult Texts: Anti-Judaism and Christian Preaching (Trinity Press International, 1989).
Other books are the Bible studies in The Storyteller’s Companion to the Bible: The Parables of Jesus, volume 11 (Abingdon Press, 2006), a contribution to New Proclamation: Year B, 2006 (Fortress Press 2006), Wholly Scripture: Preaching Themes from the Bible (Chalice Press, 2004), along with Preaching is Believing: The Sermon as Theological Reflection (Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), as well as Preaching: An Essential Guide (Abingdon Press, 2002). With Joseph R. Jeter, Jr., he developed One Gospel, Many Ears: Preaching and Different Listeners in the Congregation (Chalice Press, 2002). Preaching and Practical Ministry is the first volume in the series Preaching and Its Partners (Chalice Press, 2001).
Allen is also the author or co-author of Preaching Luke-Acts. Preaching Classic Texts (Chalice Press, 2000), with David M. Greenhaw, Preaching in the Context of Worship (Chalice Press, 2000), and with Gilbert L. Bartholomew, Preaching Verse by Verse (Westminster John Knox Press, 1999).
Allen is also the author of a widely used textbook Interpreting the Gospel: An Introduction to Preaching and editor of its popular companion, Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler (both published by Chalice Press, 1998). He jointly authored with Scott Black Johnston and Barbara S. Blaisdell Theology for Preaching: Authority, Truth, and Knowledge of God in a Postmodern Ethos (Abingdon Press, 1997). He joined John C. Holbert in writing Holy Root, Holy Branches: Christian Preaching from the Old Testament (Abingdon Press, 1994).
Among other volumes are The Teaching Sermon
(Abingdon Press, 1995), Preaching the Topical Sermon
(Westminster John Knox Press 1992), Contemporary Biblical Interpretation for Preaching
(Judson Press, 1984), Preaching for Growth
(CBP Press, 1987), and Our Eyes Can Be Opened: Preaching the Miracle Stories of the Synoptic Gospels Today
(University Press of America, 1983). He contributed to Thankful Praise: A Guide to the Renewal of Worship in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
(CBP Press, 1987).
Allen also serves as Editor of Encounter
, the Seminary’s journal of vital theological topics, published quarterly.
Allen and McKiernan-Allen have five adult children: Canaan, Genesis, Moriah, Barek, and Sabbath. He and his family spent summers in Zambia and in Jamaica, and have traveled in India, England, Canada, Belize, Israel, Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, South Korea, New Zealand, and Aruba.