Preaching Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts

By William Brosend Published
Paperback image ISBN: 9781501870248 $17.99 Buy
eBook image ISBN: 9781501870255 $17.99 Buy
How to successfully walk the tightrope of preaching when there are few agreed upon "facts."While comedian Stephen Colbert was remarkably prescient some years ago when he introduced the word “truthiness” to our vocabulary, it was presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway who told us that there are “alternative facts” abroad in the land. Rarely has such an offhand comment so captured the imagination while also aptly summarizing the spirit of the age. The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that while everyone is entitled to his (or her) opinion they are not entitled to their own facts. Until now.

Good preaching has always been a challenge, a combination of exegesis, insight and craft in witness to the Gospel and in service of the Church. Cultural forces, in particular the proliferation of media outlets and the explosion of available entertainment sources, have only made the challenge greater. And that was when most agreed on a common set of facts. Those days are now past and gone, and preachers may be forgiven if at times it feels as if the task is impossible:
  • The pulpit is like a tightrope, stretched between red and blue, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals. And there is no net.
  • I read the Beatitudes last Sunday and the tension in the church was palpable. Who knew “Blessed are the peacemakers” were fighting words?
  • Everything I say is being interpreted and analyzed for things I never even thought about. Joshua and the Battle of Jericho has become a commentary on whether or not we should build a wall on the border.
  • I cannot believe how angry people are.
  • I’m old enough to remember when the big difference was whether you got your news from Walter Cronkite on CBS or Huntley/Brinkley on NBC. Now no one agrees on what constitutes news. Or facts.

Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts
offers a way forward. This is a book for preachers, teachers, and other leaders, along with students of preaching. It demonstrates how to proclaim honest, faithful, candid sermons, in spite of social and political disagreements. It teaches how to preach in a way that allows the Church to be its best self—a place of commitment, engagement, acceptance and compassion for all God’s children.


“For all of us who dare to preach in a complex and challenging time, Bill Brosend offers an inspiring, highly practical way forward. Brosend helps us navigate our way through the often choppy waters that surround us every time we step into a pulpit. This is a must-read for anyone who takes seriously the call to proclaim good news.”
—C.K. Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry Beyond The Episcopal Church, New York, NY

“Bill Brosend gives those of us who preach amid the noise of partisan battles wise practical advice; but, more than this, he gives us confidence.”
—Tom Long, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching, Director of the Early Career Pastoral Leadership Program, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Preaching Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts . . .

“. . . reminds us that it is not the preacher’s job to chase down every titillating or troubling news item in the pulpit.”
—O. Wesley Allen Jr., Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX

“. . . ‘keeps it real’ by naming the precarious situation of many church leaders.”
—Joni Sancken, Associate Professor of Homiletics, United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH

About the Author

William Brosend

William Brosend is Professor of New Testament and Preaching for the School of Theology at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. An Episcopal priest, he is the author of The Homiletical Question: An Introduction to Liturgical Preaching and The Preaching of Jesus: Gospel Proclamation Then and Now.