Charles Campbell, James T. and Alice Mead Cleland Professor Emeritus of Homiletics, has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Homiletics. The award was presented during the academy’s annual meeting on Dec. 3 in Louisville, Ky., and received by Jerusha Neal, assistant professor of homiletics, who accepted the award on his behalf.
Campbell, a past president of the Academy of Homiletics, was honored for his contributions to the field of homiletics, with his particular focus on the Christological and apocalyptic aspects of preaching, the role of preaching in relation to the “principalities and powers,” and contemporary homiletical theory. His books include The Scandal of the Gospel: Preaching and the Grotesque, 1 Corinthians; Preaching Fools: The Gospel as a Rhetoric of Folly (with Johan Cilliers); The Word Before the Powers: An Ethic of Preaching; The Word on the Street: Performing the Scriptures in the Urban Context (with Stanley P. Saunders); and Preaching Jesus: New Directions for Homiletics in Hans Frei’s Postliberal Theology.
At the academy meeting, Neal spoke about Campbell, who listened to the presentation in Louisville via live web conferencing. “There are few scholars as fearless as Chuck Campbell about rethinking everything,” she said. Neal talked about his extensive contributions to the field of homiletics and the impact he had on his students and many others: “When he retired, his students presented him with a video telling him what his teaching had meant to them. Again and again, students told him that they had felt ‘seen’ in his courses, that they had grown courageous under his tutelage.”
Neal shared a quote from Alexander Deeg, president of Societas Homiletica and Campbell’s longtime friend: “It is especially in these days of a terrible war in Ukraine that I (and many other theologians and pastors here in Germany) realize again how important Chuck’s work is. All we have is words, yes—and there stand the powers and principalities with all their might. But what we have is words! Our work is foolish, but it is not futile. It is a meaningful protest that destabilizes war and violence. Chuck Campbell gave us reason to continue the foolishness of preaching.”
On Dec. 7, Neal presented the award to Campbell at Duke Divinity School, and they celebrated the achievement with a small group of homiletics students, staff, and faculty.