Volf started preaching early, before he was 18. While living in his native Croatia, he often taught in the church and served for a brief period as interim pastor of a church in Zagreb. In the United States, he continued to preach and teach in churches as well as appear on Christian radio and TV programs. True to his reputation as a “theologian of the bridge,” he addressed a wide variety of types of church groups, ranging from speaking to the conference of Episcopal bishops to preaching at Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power, from teaching for the Trinity Wall Street Church to giving an hour long interview to James Kennedy Radio ministries, and much in between (such as speaking at conferences of Covenant, Adventist, Vineyard or “Emergent Church” pastors and church workers).
While doing his doctoral work and teaching in Croatia, Volf worked for the Croatian Christian monthly Ivori, re-designing and re-branding the magazine his father, then General Secretary of the Pentecostal Church in Yugoslavia, was publishing. As the magazine’s co-editor (1979–84) and editor (1984–89), he regularly wrote editorials and feature articles. These took up themes and staked out positions he would later develop in academic publications. Some of these texts were on issues at the intersection between faith and culture (as, for instance, those dealing with the religious dimensions of the poetry of the Serbian poet Aleksa Šantić, which were the seed for his first book, done in collaboration with the Croatian painter Marko Živković and titled I znam da sunce ne boji se tame . Other texts were theological interpretations of biblical texts, notably of 1 Peter. Interest in culture broadly construed and in theological interpretation remained a significant feature of Volf’s theological work from then on, as did his commitment to writing for the church and not just for the academy.
When Volf moved to the United States, he continued to write for church audiences. He wrote occasional articles and gave interviews for Christianity Today, and for many years he wrote a regular column “Faith Matters” for The Christian Century (the collection of these is published as Against the Tide: Love in a Time of Petty Dreams and Great Enmities ).
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