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When Prophets Preach: Leadership and the Politics of the Pulpit (2023)

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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.


How the church can model justice, diversity, and inclusion.

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Nationally recognized speaker and church leader Jay Augustine demonstrates that the church is called and equipped to model reconciliation, justice, diversity, and inclusion.

This book develops three uses of the term "reconciliation": salvific, social, and civil. Augustine examines the intersection of the salvific and social forms of reconciliation through an engagement with Paul's letters and uses the Black church as an exemplar to connect the concept of salvation to social and political movements that seek justice for those marginalized by racism, class structures, and unjust legal systems. He then traces the reaction to racial progress in the form of white backlash as he explores the fate of civil reconciliation from the civil rights era to the Black Lives Matter movement.

This book argues that the church's work in reconciliation can serve as a model for society at large and that secular diversity and inclusion practices can benefit the church. It offers a prophetic call to pastors, church leaders, and students to recover reconciliation as the heart of the church's message to a divided world.


Foreword by William H. Willimon
Reconciliation in Context
The Divided States of America
Social Divisions and the Church's Ministry of Reconciliation

Part 1: The Theology of Reconciliation

Part 2: Reconciliation with "the Other"

Afterword by Michael B. Curry
Appendix: Supreme Court Cases


"With a clear-eyed realism about the ways faith has been distorted to justify white supremacy, Rev. Augustine invites the church to face the demons that still haunt our public life and to discover the resources in our tradition for a moral witness that offers humanity a future together. God, grant us wisdom to receive the vision and courage to practice it together with our neighbors."

Bishop William J. Barber II

President of Repairers of the Breach; cochair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

"In an age of despiritualization, greater emphasis is usually placed on social reconciliation than on salvific reconciliation. We tend in these days to ignore the consequences of our having lost the strength of our spiritual connection as we long to repair our relationships with our neighbors of different hues. Called to Reconciliation forces us to bring a more holistic vision to our quest to become the beloved community to which God is calling us 'with the fierce urgency of now.'"

James A. Forbes

Senior minister emeritus, The Riverside Church, NYC

"This is a book for our times. In this well-documented, insightful study, Jay Augustine explores the nature of Christian reconciliation in its biblical, theological, social, and contemporary implications. The book surveys the broad concept of reconciliation while providing important implications for recovering it in church and society here and now."

Bill J. Leonard

Professor of divinity emeritus, Wake Forest University

"In the tradition of theologians such as Walter Rauschenbusch, Howard Thurman, and James Cone, Called to Reconciliation is a masterful argument demonstrating that faith is thought and deed. Through the focus on reconciliation, the text provides a clear, biblically based pathway for people to begin to reimagine their connection to others and what this requires of them. The text clearly demonstrates how achieving salvific reconciliation leads to civil reconciliation and the achievement of an egalitarian society. Furthermore, it demonstrates how our failure to achieve social reconciliation has created a strong backlash to civil reconciliation. Through the use of a strong theological basis and understanding of American racial history and racial policy, Called to Reconciliation provides not just the justification for action but also the blueprint. This book could easily be applied to classrooms, church groups, and social organizations. In the midst of the intense and never-ending culture war that has erupted in response to the successes of the civil rights movement, this text provides an explanation of why this has happened and a vision of how to end the enduring and painful American internal conflict."

Eric L. McDaniel

Associate professor, University of Texas at Austin; author of Politics in the Pews

"Jay Augustine's multidisciplinary work is a gift to the church, by which I mean the diverse ekklēsia envisioned by Jesus. Drawing on and synthesizing a wide array of resources from theology, politics, and law, Augustine has written a powerful and inspiring book for individual Christians and congregations ready to work for reconciliation. Though he does not shy away from the large challenges that the church both faces and has created when it comes to equality, he calls the church to lead in our society's larger fight to end systemic racism by recovering the heart of a Gospel message that affirms the equal worth and dignity of all people."

Amanda Tyler

Executive director, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty

 "Jay Augustine's book Called to Reconciliation is an interdisciplinary study--rich in metaphors, deep in theology, and versed in history--of the urgent need for reconciliation with God and neighbor. Not content with only pointing out the wounds in our social body, the author offers a hopeful, healing vision for today. His insistence that working for equality and inclusion is not a specialized ministry for a select few is crucial. All Christians are called to be ministers of reconciliation. This book is an invitation to rediscover this call and to be encouraged and equipped to respond affirmatively and wholeheartedly."

Edgardo Colón-Emeric

Dean, Duke Divinity School; director, Center for Reconciliation

"In a time of political polarization, Jay Augustine reminds Christians that we are called to reconciliation. That calling is not just an invitation to some; it is a mandate for all (see 2 Cor. 5). Augustine's training as a lawyer and pastor come together as he challenges all of us to find fresh ways to reweave the social fabric. A wonderful accomplishment!"

L. Gregory Jones

President, Belmont University; author of Embodying Forgiveness

"Jay Augustine has clearly and creatively fixed the issue of countering racism within the context of Scripture, thus claiming the issue as a matter of formation for those who follow Jesus. And too, he turns the reader's attention to the future by articulating a vision of hope that is reconciliation. His writing would be a wonderful resource for those who seek discernment on the topic of racism via the way of faith in Jesus Christ."

Russell Kendrick

Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast

"I hesitate to affirm Jay Augustine's work as a 'good' book. It is succinct, well-written, persuasive, clear, and thoroughly researched--all qualities of a 'good' book. But it is much more than that. It is an important book and a timely book. Augustine draws the call to reconciliation from the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What has been far too peripheral (where it has even existed) in the American evangelical church has been summoned to the center of the church's life. I commend this work to pastors, to church study groups, and to the college and seminary classroom. May the hard task of social and civil reconciliation move forward among those reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and may Augustine's clear and passionate call serve as a catalyst."

R. Robert Creech

Hubert H. and Gladys S. Raborn Professor of Pastoral Leadership and director of pastoral ministries, George W. Truett Theological Seminary

"This masterful work is an essential tool for all people of good will as we seek solutions to the serious and deep fissures challenging our society. A roadmap for how we come together when we seem so far apart, this is a must-read for anyone navigating the intersection of faith and politics."

Leah D. Daughtry

National presiding prelate of The House of the Lord Churches, author, and activist-organize

"Jay Augustine's Called to Reconciliation is an absolute force of a book, required reading for clergy, lay leaders, and interested citizens alike. Augustine not only makes the case for reconciliation in the church but also lays out a clear road map for anyone who wants to take a step toward inclusion but does not know how. The biggest challenges of our day will not be tackled in silos; we will need to come together. Augustine makes that 'coming together' more theologically grounded, practical, and ultimately more possible. He has done the church, and the world, a great service with this text."

Joshua DuBois

Faith-based advisor to President Barack Obama; author of The President's Devotional

"In Called to Reconciliation, Jay Augustine uses a compellingly creative gumbo motif to call Christ followers to the ministry of reconciliation. He draws lessons from transformative social reconciliation models, like those employed by the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, which resulted in nation-changing civil reconciliation. At one of the most divided times in our nation since the Civil War, Augustine pleads with believers from different groups to embrace 'the Other' in a mutually beneficial and diverse community. This is truly a must-read."

Barbara Williams-Skinner

Co-convener, the National African American Clergy Network; author of I Prayed, Now What?

"Dr. Augustine has done the best and most comprehensive job I have yet seen not only of describing the racial divide and challenges in this country but also of giving us a hopeful way forward. His thorough and faithful biblical exegetical beginning on the theme of reconciliation lays a solid and compelling foundation for the church's call to reconciling work, but he also connects that call to sociopolitical and even cosmological realities. Displaying a rare ability to speak deep truth and yet to invite and encourage. Accessible and helpful for the congregational study group or for the seminary or sociology classroom. Of the eight books I've read in the past eighteen months on the topic of racial justice, this one by far resonates the most with me as something that can bring us together, even in a time of such deep division, around this central biblical and cultural necessity. I couldn't put it down, and it renewed my hope that we not only must, but we can, do this. Read it."

Timothy M. Smith

Bishop, NC Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

"Jay Augustine has issued a call to the church to engage its diversity, or sad lack of it, if it is to take up the all-important work of reconciliation. Dr. Augustine's mastery of theology, political theory, sociology, and the law enables him to describe a path forward. With the care of a pastor and the power of a prophet, he urges us to proceed. He writes, 'In the name of reconciliation, I call on the church to return to her apostolic origins of diversity and inclusion in order to keep moving toward her destination, no matter how curvy the road might be.' It is way past time for our congregations to give up on their segregated ways and become beacons and witnesses for true reconciliation. For any in the church looking for a partner in the Christian vocation of reconciliation, they will find one in this author and be enriched by his wisdom and passion."

David M. Greenhaw

President emeritus, Eden Theological Seminary

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