By Ted Martens

During my days of teaching communication at various universities and colleges, one of the trends was the Theater of the Absurd. This movement views human existence as utterly meaningless, and therefore ultimately absurd. It features such works as Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, a work that genuinely reflects the spirit of the age, philosophical existentialism, and plays with absurdity.

Today the fields of hermeneutics and homiletics may be reflecting the spirit of our age and may have created a movement that could be titled “Preaching of the Absurd.” (For the benefit of laypeople, hermeneutics is “the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts,” while homiletics is “the art of preaching or writing sermons.”) There has been an upsurge in preachers and teachers willing to adopt a bizarre approach to Biblical interpretation or willing to incorporate such an approach into their teaching. Some of them may well be playing around with absurdity. Let me first describe the nature of the movement, provide just one example of it, and then critique this approach.