Nature, God & Pulpit by Elizabeth Achtemeier (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992), $16.99, hardcover, 206 pp.
Few topics occupy more media time these days than environmental issues. Last fall, Vice President Al Gore’s book on the environment hit the best seller lists, and television is filled with both news reports and entertainment programming relating to endangered species, rain forests, acid rain and similar topics. Even in the neighborhood grocery store, “green” products are occupying more and more shelf space. (Although, alas, manufacturers are learning that we may say well spend more for environmentally-sensitive products — but we don’t).
Yet with all the attention being focused on environmental concerns, little in the way of practical resource material is available for preachers wishing to address such issues from a biblical perspective. That’s why Elizabeth Achtemeier’s most recent book, Nature, God & Pulpit, should find a welcome place in the study of many preachers.
Achtemeier, who is adjunct professor of Bible and homiletics at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, has proven in her previous seventeen books to be an able and articulate advocate of biblical preaching. Nature, God & Pulpit is no exception.
As she explains in the very first sentence of the preface, “This book is intended to draw together and to interpret for the church’s preachers, in a clear and reasonably comprehensive fashion, the biblical materials having to do with the natural world and God’s relation to it.” Given that most contemporary resources on environmental issues seem to be written on the basis of a secular (or sometimes even pantheistic) worldview, preachers can welcome an approach that is unapologetic in its biblical perspective.
Achtemeier ably surveys the biblical view of nature and creation, discussing the theological and practical implications for the church. As she does, she also provides — throughout the book — sample sermons and meditations modeling the treatment of such issues in the pulpit. Pastors will find such resources of tremendous value in applying Achtemeier’s biblical insights in their own preaching.
The final chapter, “The Preacher’s Opportunity,” is written directly to those who are called to apply the truths of God’s Word to the lives of their congregations. She summarizes the major affirmations of the book, then suggests additional ways in which an understanding of biblical teaching on nature and creation can amplify, illustrate and enhance sermons on other themes. Preachers will also appreciate the helpful index of scriptural references.
Our congregations are bombarded by a secular approach to such issues that can distort their perspectives and lead to serious misunderstandings of the nature of our world and ourselves. Nature, God & Pulpit is a healthy corrective that will assist preachers to proclaim biblical insights that are greatly needed in the current environmental debate.
Book Notes
John Killinger, Letting God Bless You: The Beatitudes for Today (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1992), paper, 139 pp.
John Killinger is one of the finest preachers in mainline Protestantism, and this most recent book will be well received by preachers as they prepare to proclaim the truths of the Beatitudes. Although this is already a widely-treated topic, Killinger offers new insights and wonderful illustrations to assist contemporary congregations in hearing again the great truths of Jesus’ teaching.
Killinger is distinguished professor of theology and culture at Stamford University in Birmingham, Alabama.
George L. Klein, Editor, Reclaiming the Prophetic Mantle: Preaching the Old Testament Faithfully (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), $14.95, paper, 315 pp.
The Old Testament is all but ignored in too many Christian pulpits. In this new collection of essays, Klein and a collection of other Southern Baptist scholars emphasize the value of Old Testament proclamation and offer valuable insights to aid the preacher in approaching and preaching such texts. Of particular value to many preachers are the chapters on preaching various Old Testament literary genres.
One major division of the book helps the reader relate the literature of the Old Testament to that of the New Testament. Another section offers assistance in applying Old Testament truths in a contemporary setting.
George L. Klein is professor of Old Testament at Criswell College in Dallas, TX.
Stuart and Jill Briscoe, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Holiness (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993), paper, 191 pp.
Do holiness and happiness mix? The Briscoes pose the question, “In a culture where personal rights are considered sacred, can we find satisfaction as ‘living sacrifices’ to God?”
As you might imagine, the authors answer in the affirmative, and do so in an engaging and persuasive manner. The book contains valuable material and illustrations for teaching and preaching.
Stuart Briscoe is senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Waukesha, WI; he is a Contributing Editor to Preaching. His wife, Jill, is a well-known author and speaker, and editor of Just Between Us, a magazine for ministry wives.
Leander E. Keck, The Church Confident (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), $9.95, paper, 128 pp.
This book by the former dean of Yale Divinity School contains the Lyman Beecher Lectures presented at Yale in February 1992; those lectures were offered under the title, “Toward the Renewal of Mainline Protestantism.”
Keck challenges the mainline church, whose “identity and mission seemed to be determined less and less by the resources of the gospel and their tested wisdom and more and more by extraneous agendas.” He believes that praise of God must be restored as the center and focus of Christian worship. In theology, he calls for a “hermeneutic of affirmation” which will “reclaim, renew, and release critically the classical Christian tradition into the lives of the churches, where it can find its own level of influence by clarifying their identity and mission on the one hand, and by generating a vision of a new Christian humanism on the other.” This book will be of interest to mainline pastors concerned for the renewal of their own denominations.
On a personal note, it is disappointing to see Yale Divinity School continue to let the prestigious (but increasingly less so) Lyman Beecher Lectures on Preaching continue to drift away from its stated focus on preaching. There are many worthy potential lecturers who could be utilized — including many evangelical homileticians, who seem to have no place at Yale despite their central place in contemporary preaching.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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