Preaching is both art and science, demanding creativity, training, and resilience. In An Inward-Outward Witness, James Ellis III connects Christian suffering and the faithful preacher’s own suffering to form a bridge between the Bible and hurting people. For clergy and laypeople alike, life can be unjust, turbulent, tenuous, and rife with pain. Preachers must be able to come face to face with their own suffering and, with God’s help, see their way to the other side. Through biblical narrative, pastoral vignettes, scholarly wisdom, and personal testimony, Ellis makes the case for the cruciform life in Christ as a nonnegotiable element that shapes godly preachers.
In An Inward-Outward Witness, Dr. James Ellis shows himself to be an erudite author who has prolifically searched Scripture and our contemporary times to explore and espouse the necessity of suffering in the lives of believers. Ellis’s work exposes the inner soul as it deals with the outward reality of pain and suffering—often unacknowledged by the church and intentionally ignored by society. This work interprets the void between sacred theology and practical living and provides a biblical GPS to guide preachers through their own pain to the dais of societal observation in order to lead the masses to godly vision only endured suffering can sharpen.
—Robert Smith Jr.
Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity, Samford University
Author of Doctrine that Dances:
Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life
Written with the creativity of an artist and the verve of a preacher, An Inward-Outward Witness presents an alternative to a vision of preaching based on a false notion of “prosperity.” Ellis presents a deeply biblical vision of the preacher and preaching as on a cross-shaped yet joyous path in Christ. Drawing fruitfully upon a wide range of voices, Ellis is particularly insightful in highlighting the significance of the Black church tradition for homiletics today. This book is a treasure!
—J. Todd Billings
Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology
Western Theological Seminary
When we take our ordination vows, we’d do well to buckle up our crash helmets. Dangerous country lies ahead. Ellis skillfully reminds us of a truth we might prefer to ignore: suffering and trouble awaits all of us who would live—and invite others into—the way of the cross. But reading these words, I’m buckling up. I’m ready to follow.
Director of the Eugene Peterson Center for Christian Imagination
Author of Love Big, Be Well and A Burning in My Bones:
The Authorized Biography of Eugene Peterson
James Ellis III has waded into the deep waters of Christian life and ministry. The one who preaches a crucified Christ is formed by the cross as well. Suffering shapes the servants of God so that they may identify more fully with both those who suffer around them and the One who suffered for them. This is an important word for those called to ministry to hear. We have not been called to comfort, but to the cross.
—R. Robert Creech
Hubert H. and Gladys S. Raborn Professor of
Pastoral Leadership and Director of Pastoral Ministries