Craddock's point is well taken. I read quite a few theology books each year, and I believe I am a better preacher because of it. This isn't because I get anything out of those books for direct use in my sermons (like quotes or illustrations). No. Very little in such books makes a direct jump into the text of my sermons. No, the point isn't to get material for my sermons, but rather, to get deeper thoughts into me. Reading theology stretches my understanding and challenges my assumptions. Reading theology calls me to examine questions I'd rather leave unasked and to hear answers I'd rather not hear. Reading theology, good theology, deepens my faith, and that makes me a better preacher.
Three favorite theology books (among many):
- Exclusion & Embrace by Miroslav Volf
- The Drama of Doctrine by Kevin Vanhoozer
- The Crucified God by Jurgen Moltmann
- Roger Olson, Professor of Theology at Truett Seminary. You can read his thoughts on why theology is essential to ministry here.
- Scot McKnight, a New Testament professor at North Park University (I realize McKnight is not technically a theologian, but the truth is, all good biblical scholars also do theology just as good theologians also study their Bibles!).