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.
-- author of Stations of the Heart and The End of Words
Cornelius Plantingas 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 cant 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, Youve 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, its not enough.Publishers Weekly
Plantingas sympathetic understanding of the preachers 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 preachers 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 dont preachers read more? Preachers are writers who produce more content each week than the average newspaper columnist. Why dont we ravenously read in order to feed the beast of each Sundays 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 peoples 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 Christians 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 Gods word.-- Theology Today
Plantinga invites preachers into the wonderful world of literature as a primary source for homiletical imagination. . . . The benefits of a general reading program for preachers are not simply described but demonstrated with enough detail so that the preacher can actually imagine its practice in a sermon. Preachers will be reminded of the artistic elements of preaching that we tend to forget in the pressing demands of having something to say each week.