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Conversations with Barth on Preaching Paperback – May 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0687341612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0687341610
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Feeling most at home behind a pulpit, Bishop William H. Willimon’s deepest calling is to be a preacher and truth-teller of Jesus Christ. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke University Divinity School and retired Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, after serving for 20 years as faculty member and Dean of the Chapel at Duke University. He continues to give lectures and teach at universities around the world. Willimon earned a doctoral degree from Emory University and has been honored with 13 additional doctorates. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

A study by the Pulpit and Pew Research Center found that Willimon is one of the most widely read authors among mainline Protestant pastors. An international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the "Twelve Most Effective Preachers" in the English-speaking world. With over a million copies of more than 60 books sold, his popularity is undeniable.

More About the Author

William H. Willimon is Presiding Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, Birmingham, AL area, and Visiting Research Professor, Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC. Prior to his current position he served for twenty years as Professor of Christian Ministry and Dean of Duke University Chapel. He is the author of fifty books, and over a million copies of his books have been sold. His articles have appeared in many publications including The Christian Ministry, Quarterly Review, Liturgy, Worship, and Christianity Today. His Pulpit Resource is used each week by over eight thousand pastors in the U.S.A., Canada, and Australia. He was selected in a Baylor University survey as one of the "Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World."

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. Mullen on January 25, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been a pastor for 17 years and on a yearly basis try to read a collection of sermons (usually classic sermons from the Church Fathers), and a contemprary voice on preaching. This year I chose Willimon's book. Early in my calling, I was influenced by Barth's teaching on the Word of God as it was presented in His Dogmatics (I.1). I have long been an admirer of William Willimon as a preacher, and as he was writing on an early influence upon what I believe I am doing on a weekly basis, it seemed like a good fit. I have not been disappointed.

Willimon is an appreciative reader of Barth, but he is not uncritical. At many points he delares what Barth has to say, and then states where, in his view, Barth has gone to far. He is up front with his own theological inclinations, and does not hesitate to point out where Barth has mis-stated the case. Still, he is very much in agreement with what that great mind has to say about the task of speaking for God. I felt as if I was going on an intelectual journey of a great preacher being taught by a great theologian. Wonderful! I encourage all pastors and preachers who have an affinity to the thought of Karl Barth to pick this up.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JAD on May 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you are a well-versed student of Barth, you will find much in this book that will resonate, as the author (who must be one of the world's experts on the 20th century theologian by virtue of his lifelong love for the man and his message) provides skillful observations about what approach the preacher should take when preaching. If you are somewhat new to Barth, then do not fret, Willimon gives much background about his life and work to help you along at every page.

Dr. Willimon is used to addressing a well-educated audience and in this book we find him taking the high road of theological thinking and are glad of it. The book presents the main arguments supplemented in each case by indented additional material (all well worth reading--but the author says from the outset that one can read the book omitting these and have the whole thought presented). He also intersperses some of his own sermons to serve as illustrations of his hope to adhere to the precepts of Barth in moving from scripture to homely.

It is easy to draw ideas but hard to draw conclusions about this book because the reader is apt to return again and again to it, to see what else might be worthy of consideration for the preaching moment of next Sunday. This reader hopes to incorporate ideas expressed in this book in future, and looks forward to the feedback from the people in the pews. Other readers will probably want to do the same.

I only wish that Dr. Willimon had included some of Dr. Barth's sermons in translation that have not appeared in English heretofore. What an added treat that would have been.

Not long ago I watched contestants on a travel reality show as they tried to eat more than their share of a long link of sausage. This book reminds me of that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Knetsch on May 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
Written by one of the best preachers in the US about one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, this book is an outstanding contribution to Barth studies. Too often thought of as a "theologian" in the negative sense of being too academic, Barth is often read only by "academics" who are interested in esoteric and obscure matters. The problem is, Barth's writing, although meaty and dense at times, is filled with a passion for the task of preaching. Much of Barth's life was spent wrestling (and often failing) at preaching and was the goal for his entire theological project.

This book centres around the practice of preaching in light of Barth's theology and makes the point that a good preacher is a good theologian. That is to preach is to bear witness faithfully to the gospel as God's free act in toward his creatures, not eloquent rhetoric (although Barth is good at that too, despite his dislike of it!).

Read and enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
I used this as part of an independent study on Barth's theology of preaching, while also taking a general preaching course. And really, it's not bad as Willimon's book on preaching and reflecting on Barth. It's a very nice homage. And it makes a good close followup to Dorrien's _The Barthian Revolt in Modern Theology_ for anyone who wants to get deeper into the importance of our proclamation as a necessary form of the Word in Barth.

One major quibble: Willimon has this distracting pretension of imitating the excurses of the Church Dogmatics. And he does it in ways that aren't really reflective of how those excurses work. (If you're not familiar: Barth's CD is written with large-print main text interspersed with smaller-print excurses, sometimes running for pages on end.) For Barth, the main text can be read for the point without the excurses, and any given excursus is something akin to a massive footnote in which the academic heavy lifting is done, and Barth especially segregates his Latin and Greek work into these smaller-print sections.

For Willimon, the excurses are often a means of including block quotes--which he also does in the text normally--in a totally different type setting. Where this is not true, they are still a means of advancing the argument, and cannot genuinely be done without. It would have been a better book for thinking of these sections as parts that had to be properly integrated into the main text.

Still, well worth the read as a companion to the primary sources. It is good to hear what one accomplished and well-recognized theologian of preaching has to say about another, who was less-often recognized as a theologian of preaching.
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