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Reading for Preaching

The Preacher in Conversation with Storytellers, Biographers, Poets, and Journalists

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Wm. B. Eerdmanns Publishing
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5.5 x 8.46
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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. 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!


      "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." Richard Lischer-- author of Stations of the Heart and The End of Words

      "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." Walter Brueggemann -- author of The Prophetic Imagination and Truth Speaks to Power

      "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." Thomas G. Long-- author of The Witness of Preaching and What Shall We Say?

      "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."John Ortberg -- author of If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

      "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." Publishers Weekly

      "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." John Buchanan-- editor/publisher of The Christian Century

      "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." Lillian Daniel -- author of When "Spiritual but Not Religious" Is Not Enough

      "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 writing. . . . Plantinga is discerning, witty, humane, up-to-date, and profoundly pastoral. I urgently recommend this ear-opening book to a host of readers - including not only preachers but also those who listen to preaching, for they will be enlarged by it as well." Fleming Rutledge-- author of And God Spoke to Abraham: Preaching from the Old Testament

      "This beautifully written gem of a book admirably fulfills its sign function by pointing not at itself but at the thing it is about - other people's books. Plantinga makes as good a case as I have come across for the importance of reading many books to enrich the preaching of the Christian's one book. Here is no recipe for pretty preaching, which only distracts from the biblical message, but rather a discerning call to `Take, read' and more effectively minister God's word." Kevin J. Vanhoozer -- editor of Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible

Reading for Preach...
The Preacher in Co...
by Wm. B. Eerdmanns Publishing
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