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


Product Details

$19.99  $18.59
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Publish Date
5.6 X 8.46 X 0.41 inches | 0.44 pounds

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About the Author

Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and president emeritus of Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author of many books, including the Christianity Today Book Award winners Not the Way It's Supposed to Be, Engaging God's World, and Reading for Preaching. He is also the author of Under the Wings of God: Twenty Biblical Reflections for a Deeper Faith and Morning and Evening Prayers.


Review & Expositor
"What makes Plantinga's book so helpful is not just the list of authors and titles we might pick up (a very impressive list) but the practical ideas he includes along the way."

Restoration Quarterly
"Any preacher who already reads widely will be pleased to find in this book justification for this practice. Any preacher who does not read widely will find this book compelling enough to provide motivation to read a novel, and short enough to leave plenty of time to do so."

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 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."

Kevin J. Vanhoozer
-- editor of Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible
"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."

Christian Century
"Concise, thoughtful, provocative and engaging, this is a book we preachers should read."

Preaching (Survey of the Year's Best Books for Preachers)
"Preachers will find tremendous wisdom and insight from reading Plantinga's short but very potent treatise on the preacher and reading."

Christianity Today
"A marvel of concision, blunt good sense, sharp insight, and intellectual generosity. Buy one yourself and one for your pastor."

Sharing the Practice
"Plantinga's selections are rich in humor, satire, delight and carry the reader into some powerful times, places and events. This book would be a good resource for ministers to use in discussion groups or in personal study. For the preacher looking to escape the `dry days' and dull preaching, this book offers a
challenge to revitalize one's preaching."

Theology Today
"Invites preachers into the wonderful world of literature as a primary source for homiletical imagination. . . . This book offers a concise argument for the necessity of preachers to engage in conversation with great writers. . . . The permission to read, to schedule reading in one's weekly tasks, and to take reading seriously, will be another great joy of this book."

Presbyterian Outlook
"In this book are found riches from novels, short stories, poems and essays that will enrich any preacher's art. That is one of the many delights of this book. One is treated to insightful commentary on a delightfully wide range of reading that demonstrates how the great skill of the authors can be learned by preachers who are seeking to announce the presence of God and move the human heart. . . . After all these years, I have again found a source for deepening my own reading that may in turn deepen my preaching."

Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society
"This slim volume, like the book of Proverbs, packs a lot of wisdom -- insight for skillful living in the fear of God -- into a few pages. . . . Plantinga's own prose delights the reader as much as the dozens of passages he quotes from luminaries like Tolstoy and Steinbeck."

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."

"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."

Anglican Theological Review
"Every preacher - lay and ordained - should read this book if for no other reason than to develop a reading list. . . . Plantinga masterfully demonstrates throughout the book how to use various types of prose and poetry in sermon writing. . . . Plantinga's writing is engaging, lively, and even humorous - all qualities most preachers pray will be characteristic of their sermons."