Ronald J. Allen
Professor of Preaching and Gospels and Letters
Phone: (424) 333-1009
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, Emeritus. He served at CTS from1982 to 2019.
In retirement, he works with lectionary preaching groups, supports commissioned ministers, leads Bible studies, retreats, and other events in congregations, regions, and the general church. He teaches in a variety of settings while continuing to write. His current project is You Never Step into the Same Pulpit Twice: Preaching from the Perspective of Process Theology.
Allen’s most recent publication is the fruit of 40 years of research and teaching: I Will Tell You the Mystery: A Commentary on Preaching from the Book of Revelation (Cascade, 2019). He recently helped edit Preaching Prophetic Care: Building Bridges to Justice (Pickwick, 2018), a reframing of the notion of “prophetic preaching” as an expression of “prophetic care.” The title of another book for which he was an editor reveals its content: The Living Pulpit: Sermons that Illustrate Preaching in the Stone-Campbell Movement 1968-2018 (Chalice, 2018).
In The Sermon Without End: A Conversational Approach to Preaching (Abingdon, 2015), he joins with O. Wesley Allen, Jr. in using 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 with others as a way forward for preaching.
Sermon Treks: Pathways to Creative Preaching (Abingdon, 2014) calls attention to a variety of starting points for preparing the sermon: the Revised Common Lectionary, preaching continuously through the Bible, preaching from biblical themes, preaching from various kinds of sermon series as well as free selection of topic or text. His Acts was the second volume published in the Fortress Biblical Commentaries for Preaching series (Fortress, 2013) and envisions Luke-Acts as a giant chiasmus with the ascension as the center point.
In 2013 he joined O. Wesley Allen Jr. and John S. McClure in editing Under the Oak Tree: The Church as Community of Conversation in a Pluralistic and Conflicted World (Cascade 2013), 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.
He authored the biblical, sermonic, and worship 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) (revised 2018). He also wrote the biblical, homiletical and worship materials for a year-round stewardship emphasis drawing from the Revised Common Lectionary and focusing on stewardship emphases on one lectionary text each month as well as resource materials supporting the typical four-week campaign Go and Do the Same: Year C: (2015), Journey to Generosity: Year A (2016); Measuring What Matters: Year B (2017).
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), 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) also contains questions for small group use and is being used in many study groups nationwide.
Preaching and the Other: Studies in Postmodern Insights (Chalice, 2010), explores 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, 2008) which describes eleven contemporary theological families and their outcome for preaching, and The Life of Jesus for Today (Westminster John Knox, 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, 1991); A Credible and Timely Word: Process Theology and Preaching (Chalice, 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, 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, 2006), a contribution to New Proclamation: Year B, 2006 (Fortress Press 2006), Wholly Scripture: Preaching Themes from the Bible (Chalice, 2004), along with Preaching is Believing: The Sermon as Theological Reflection (Westminster John Knox, 2002), as well as Preaching: An Essential Guide (Abingdon, 2002). With Joseph R. Jeter, Jr., he developed One Gospel, Many Ears: Preaching and Different Listeners in the Congregation (Chalice, 2002). Preaching and Practical Ministry is the first volume in the series Preaching and Its Partners (Chalice, 2001).
Allen is also the author or co-author of Preaching Luke-Acts. Preaching Classic Texts (Chalice, 2000), with David M. Greenhaw, Preaching in the Context of Worship (Chalice, 2000), and with Gilbert L. Bartholomew, Preaching Verse by Verse (Westminster John Knox, 1999).
Allen wrote a widely used textbook Interpreting the Gospel: An Introduction to Preaching and editor of its more popular companion, Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler (both published by Chalice, 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, 1997). He joined John C. Holbert in Holy Root, Holy Branches: Christian Preaching from the Old Testament (Abingdon, 1994).
The Teaching Sermon came out in 1995 (Abingdon) with Preaching the Topical Sermon preceding it in 1992 (Westminster John Knox). Contemporary Biblical Interpretation for Preaching is still in print after more than 30 years (Judson, 1984). Other early works include 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).
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.
Allen and McKiernan-Allen have five adult children: Canaan, Genesis, Moriah, Barek, and Sabbath as well as five grandchildren. 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, Aruba, Grand Cayman, Argentina, Antarctica, Spain, Canary Islands, Italy, Greece and Croatia.