Reading for Preaching: The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists

Cornelius Plantinga, Author
Cornelius Plantinga Jr.. Eerdmans, $14 trade paper (145p) ISBN 978-0-8028-7077-3
Reviewed on: 08/26/2013
Release date: 09/01/2013
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To the preacher's weekly challenge of needing "something intelligent to say on an intimidating list of topics raised by biblical texts," Plantinga, systematic theologian and former president of Calvin College, presents practical and spiritual motivation for cultivating a habit of sophisticated reading. Contending that preachers have as much to learn from Victor Hugo, Robert Frost, and Thomas Friedman as from Augustine, Calvin, and Barth, Plantinga argues that such exposure not only tunes the preacher's ear and offers choice sermon illustrations, but aids in the pursuit of wisdom. Urging caution with illustrations to avoid emotional manipulation, and careful consideration of congregational context and one's own pastoral identity, he reviews excerpts from sermons of well-known preachers, examining the "attentiveness and reverence" of Barbara Brown Taylor's writing; Will Willimon's use of "a single, quotable line"; and William Sloane Coffin's clever quip at Yale, which might have flopped in a different setting. Plantinga's sympathetic understanding of the preacher's "daunting task," combined with his concrete guidance for enhancing homiletic skill, makes this a valuable resource for new and veteran preachers alike. (Oct.)
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