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

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

by Cornelius Plantinga Jr.
     
 

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In Reading for Preaching Cornelius Plantinga makes a striking claim: preachers who read widely will most likely become better preachers.

Plantinga — himself a master preacher — shows how a wide reading program can benefit preachers. First, he says, good reading generates delight, and the preacher who enters the world of delight goes with God.

Overview

In Reading for Preaching Cornelius Plantinga makes a striking claim: preachers who read widely will most likely become better preachers.

Plantinga — himself a master preacher — shows how a wide reading program can benefit preachers. First, he says, good reading generates delight, and the preacher who enters the world of delight goes with God. Good reading can also help tune the preacher’s ear for language — his or her primary tool. General reading can enlarge the preacher’s sympathies for people and situations that she or he had previously known nothing about. And, above all, the preacher who reads widely has the chance to become wise.

This beautifully written book will benefit not just preachers but anyone interested in the wisdom to be derived from reading.

Works that Plantinga interacts with in the book include

  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
  • Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario
  • Silence, by Shusaku Endo
  • "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" by Leo Tolstoy
  • "Narcissus Leaves the Pool" by Joseph Epstein
  • Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
. . . and many more!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/26/2013
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.)
From the Publisher
Richard Lischer
— author of Stations of the Heart and The End of Words
“Cornelius Plantinga’s Reading for Preaching represents the gift of a lifetime. Plantinga has spent many years mapping great fiction, poetry, biography, and journalism. In this book he shares that map with technologized, digitalized, busy preachers who badly need what he has to offer. This is not a guide to ‘pretty sermons,’ as Niebuhr called them, but to human, deeply textured reflections. . . . I can’t imagine a preacher who will not benefit from this gift.”

Walter Brueggemann
— author of The Prophetic Imagination and Truth Speaks to Power
“Two matters are unmistakably clear in this book. First, Plantinga loves words, phrases, sentences, and stories. He remembers them, relishes them, and knows their durable power. Second, Plantinga cares about ministers. He knows the burdens and wonders of ministry, and treats preachers with deep respect. . . . Preachers will find in these pages a colleague and fellow traveler who exudes courage and pathos and joy in our common calling.”

Thomas G. Long
— author of The Witness of Preaching and What Shall We Say?
“With wit, wisdom, and a fresh supply of his own compelling prose, Cornelius Plantinga invites us into the whitewater adventure of good reading. He speaks directly to preachers, to those who bear the load of weekly sermons and who wonder where they can find language that bristles with energy and faithful imagination. But he also gathers in all Christians who hunger for the old words of the faith — sin, hope, salvation, providence — to come alive in the vibrant metaphors, rich stories, and telling insights of great literature. This book is about delightful reading, and it is itself a delight to read.”

John Ortberg
— author of If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat
“Jesus once said we are to love God with all our mind — I know of no one who does this better than Neal Plantinga. He seems to be incapable of crafting an uninteresting or unedifying sentence. To be able to learn from him how to stock a mind for greater preaching is beyond price. Whatever this book costs, it’s not enough.”

Publishers Weekly
“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.”

John Buchanan
— editor/publisher of The Christian Century
“Reading is the necessary backdrop to relevant twenty-first-century preaching. There is no shortcut or substitute. When the gospel and the preacher’s personal faith and experience are informed by wide, disciplined, varied, and sustained reading, lively and compelling sermons will be the result. Cornelius Plantinga, an avid and creative reader himself, provides the community of preachers with a very valuable resource and the impetus for all of us to read, read, read.”

Lillian Daniel
— author of When “Spiritual but Not Religious” Is Not Enough
“Why don’t preachers read more? Preachers are writers who produce more content each week than the average newspaper columnist. Why don’t we ravenously read in order to feed the beast of each Sunday’s deadline? The truth is that a million pressing callings invade the small space that pastors reserve for reading. And so I give thanks for the deep reading that Cornelius Plantinga has done over the years, and for this gentle guide to words that are worth reading.”

Fleming Rutledge
— author of And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament
“This treasure of a book by Neal Plantinga offers substantial help to a generation of young preachers (and older ones too) who have not fully grasped the importance of furnishing the mind with great literary w

Mid-America Journal of Theology
“Here is a book that addresses the preacher from a totally different angle. Plantinga makes his case for better preaching, not through the improvement of the mere mechanics of the art of preaching but through a challenge to the preacher to expand his horizons through reading widely beyond theology. . . . I would recommend this book merely on the strength of his writing and the pleasure it provides. But I also appreciate the author’s wisdom and the unpretentious way he goes about commending his program.”

Congregational Libraries Today
“Plantinga’s knowledge is impressive, and combined with practical guidance and humor, provides a text that is a pleasure to read. While preachers are the intended audience, other church leaders, teachers and seminary students will find value.”

Interpretation
“This short and engaging volume should earn a place on the syllabus of every seminary homiletics course and in every pastor’s library. . . . This small, sage book will not ensure wise preaching from its readers, but it will shine some light on the path toward such a goal.”
 

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802870773
Publisher:
Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
Publication date:
11/30/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
136
Sales rank:
596,857
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Cornelius Plantinga Jr. is president emeritus of Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Senior Research Fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship . His previous books include Beyond Doubt, Not the Way It's Supposed to Be, and Engaging God's World, and his many articles and essays have appeared in such periodicals as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, and The Christian Century.

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