Warren W. Wiersbe, Developing a Christian Imagination (Wheaton, IL: Viktor Books, 1995), 286 pp., paper.
This companion volume to Wiersbe’s outstanding Preaching and Teaching With Imagination (Victor, 1994) is a collection of delightful literary resources that are likely to both demonstrate and spark imagination. The bulk of the book consists of creative sermons that will be of interest to anyone who regularly stands in the pulpit.
Wiersbe has gathered a diverse assortment of literary and homiletical gems, ranging from Charles Spurgeon and Henry Ward Beecher to Eugene H. Peterson. Preachers will find a wealth of material to encourage greater imagination in our own efforts.
Walter Brueggemann, Charles B. Cousar, Beverly R. Gaventa, and James D. Newsome, Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV Year A (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995), 589 pp., hardcover, $32.00.
Preachers who follow the Revised Common Lectionary will find much of value in this third (of three) volumes providing resources for preaching on lectionary texts. The book covers each Sunday (plus important liturgical holidays) of the year; each listing includes introductory material on the texts, and a commentary on each of the four texts (Old Testament, Psalter, Gospel and Epistle).
Written primarily for a mainline audience, readers will find many good exegetical insights and suggestions for practical implications of the biblical texts.
Gaventa is a professor at Princeton Seminary; the other three compilers are on the faculty of Columbia Seminary in Atlanta.
Paul Scott Wilson, The Practice of Preaching (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), 329 pp., hardcover.
Wilson has added his contribution to the ever-growing list of preaching textbooks. It is written specifically for the classroom, but will still be of interest to the preaching minister who wishes to stay in touch with the academic side of homiletics. As a text, preachers will find it better than many, less helpful than some. Much material will be helpful to beginning preachers, while more experienced preachers will urge the author to “get on with it.”
I particularly like Wilson’s idea of the “hermeneutical square,” which represents “the four-step progression we make: from receiving a (biblical) text, to providing an interpretation of it in the form of another text (which in the case of homiletics is the sermon). The stages then repeat for the next interpreter (in this case, the congregation).” The four parts of the “hermeneutical square” are: 1. What the text says (study of the biblical text); 2. What the text means (study of what others say about the text); 3. What experience says (application of the text); 4. What the preacher says (the sermon).
Wilson is professor of homiletics at Emmanuel College in Canada’s Toronto School of Theology.
Barry L. Callen, ed., Sharing Heaven’s Music: The Heart of Christian Preaching (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), 230 pp., hardcover.
James Earl Massey is one of the outstanding preachers of our day, and this collection of essays is a festschrift compiled and published in his honor. Massey has recently retired as dean of the School of Theology of Anderson University, and this book was edited by Barry L. Callen, a professor at Anderson and Massey’s predecessor as dean.
In addition to being a worthy tribute to Massey, the book is also one of the better preaching volumes published in the last year. It includes a diverse collection of essays about preaching, by authors ranging from William Willimon and Elizabeth Achtemeier (both Preaching Contributing Editors) to David Buttrick and Thomas Long.
Topics range from the traditional (“Canons of Sermon Construction”) to the intriguing (“Laughing with the Gospel”).
Massey — himself a Contributing Editor of Preaching — should be pleased with this interesting collection of homiletical insights. The reader won’t be disappointed, either.
Proclamation 6: Series A. Advent/Christmas by J. Christiaan Beker; Epiphany by Susan K. Hedahl; Holy Week by Robin Scroggs. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), paper.
These three slim volumes are part of the ongoing Proclamation series produced by Fortress Press, providing interpretations of lectionary texts for preaching. Readers may be disappointed with the lack of attention to the various texts (the largest of the three volumes is only 64 pages, so there’s not much to work with), but those using the last two volumes (Epiphany and Holy Week) will at least find some homiletical reflections that may offer some insights for preaching during these seasons.
Robert E. Coleman, The Coming World Revival (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1995), 171 pp., hardcover.
Pastors who desire revival in their churches will find much to appreciate in Coleman’s contribution. He describes what revival is, why it is so important to the church, and how a church can prepare for revival to occur. As Billy Graham comments, “This could be one of the most important books you will ever read.”
Preachers will especially appreciate a wealth of interesting and preachable stories and illustrations relating to revival — many drawn from the rich history of revival which Coleman chronicles so well.
Coleman, a Preaching Contributing Editor, is director of the School of World Mission and Evangelism at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Thom S. Rainer, Giant Aivakenings (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1995), 198 pp., hardcover, $17.99.
Thom Rainer’s book will come as welcome news to pastors who have come to believe that if their churches aren’t named “Willow Creek” or “Saddleback,” they won’t find real success. Rainer makes it clear that more traditional churches can also be successful in reaching unchurched people and achieving growth even in our contemporary culture.
Of particular interest to preachers is the author’s conviction that “Expository preaching will be a key vehicle for the recovery of theology in the twenty-first century traditional church.” (My only criticism is his use of David Wells’ questionable survey of preaching publications to make one of his points — but that’s another story!)
Rainer is dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY.

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